May 20, 2011

Arriverderci to North Carolina Spring

We have migrated to Italy and a minor surgery on my finger–right hand!–kept me from the computer the last days before I left.  I spent a lot of time in the garden and had a little time just to soak  in the beauty of a southern spring.  Of course, spring is beautiful everywhere and now that I’m in Italy, I’m dazzled all over again (meadows of poppies!) and also filled with that sense of renewal the season brings.

Our farmhouse in North Carolina has a garden of old roses planted in the 1950’s and onward.  Many of the plants are on their downward spiral but we are giving them care while we replant as we can.  My grandson and I took on the project of rewriting the labels on all the old bourbon, noisette, grandifloras, and musks.  He was delighted with the names and with a Sharpie, retraced the letters that someone else had labeled.  When the labels were gone, we redid what I knew and sadly left the rest unnamed.  I hope to identify all of those with the help of rosarians.  The tracing over someone’s writing was a little eerie but also satisfying because some were faint and we remarked that if we’d not written over the letters that day, they might have been lost. The highlight of the project was that Willie got to spray clear sealer over the labels. This is a part of the three-room rose garden now in my charge:


The pump house in the rose garden is covered with a rose called Gardenia:


Gardens seem like a place for memory and at the same time they are fragile.  A summer of neglect and chaos descends.  Acquiring an old garden, though, seems to give me links to the woman who first designed it.  I can look at her beds and borders and hear her thinking. Clearly, she was a dreamer. And ambitious. And she must have had a lot of help.  She liked garden rooms; I like views.  A later owner planted some evergreens that look ugly to me but I haven’t removed them.  Another owner put in a water feature my grandson calls Brief Creek.  What a nuisance–leaves clog the pump, mosquitoes breed, and the thing has to be laboriously cleaned frequently.  Still, the sound is nice and the plants have filled in enough to make it look totally natural.  We’ll leave it.  Meanwhile, I’ve cut down on the many flower borders–just too much to maintain–and have planted a lot of fruit trees. Everyone who passes through leaves their prints.  I wonder who planted all the peonies, my favorite.  Here are a few of them.




To open the view, I’ve lowered hedges. Now we can see the lower garden from the house.



There’s one of those evergreens on the left that bother my eye. But it contributes its shade of green to all the other shades that make up spring.

Now I’ll be writing from Italy.  I’m happy that my daughter and her family will enjoy the garden in North Carolina.  (Please weed the vegetable garden!)