This weekend is the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament, held each year in Madison. It brings hundreds of players to town, their families and friends tagging along for a moment of March Madness.
It also usually brings a March snowstorm and this year was no different than seasons past. We noticed the first flakes drifting down just as we were finishing dinner last night.
We had turned the deck lights on so Mark could see to finish grilling — our first use of the Weber since we hauled it out to cook our Thanksgiving turkey.
Luckily, I'd picked a bouquet of double snowdrops to decorate the table on Thursday — when the sun was shining and the temps were climbing toward 60 degrees. This morning's 31 degrees reminded me why I mostly left the garden alone during this glorious warm and sunny week that has ended so abruptly. I've lived in Wisconsin long enough to know that I shouldn't even think about heading out to the garden until all the basketball boys head back home.
This may be the official first day of summer, but summer arrived here one week ago today. It was the kind of perfect day you dream about deep in winter: sunny and warm with enough of a breeze to keep the leaves softly rustling and the mosquitoes at bay. I spent it at a baby shower held on a farm in the country not far outside of Madison — surrounded by old stone walls, good food, horses, dogs, prairie grass, and of course, old friends. Meanwhile Mark was in a different part of countryside checking out all our potter friends at the annual Cambridge Pottery Festival. He snapped this photo which perfectly captured the mood of the day.
This may be the official first day of summer, but what's been noteworthy about its arrival this year is the endless Spring that preceded it. We've had an occasional day where the temps shot up into the high 70s pushing the blooming forward; but mostly it's been cool with plenty of rain and soft, cloudy light. It's been hell if you're trying to get tomatoes started, but heavenly otherwise. My rhodie — which had a record 17 flowers last year — had just under 50 this year. The 'Guernsey Cream' clematis had maybe a dozen blossoms last year; 40 this year. It's like the garden has been on steroids (weeds, too).
This may be the official first day of summer, but I'm still celebrating Spring. The bouquets I made last weekend continue to hold pride of place indoors today. They're not composed of the Astilbes or Astrantias that are coming into bloom. Instead, I'm honoring the last blissful remnants of the stars of the Spring garden: The metallic gold seedheads of the Guernsey Cream clematis (above) and the glazed seed pods of peony 'Burnished Bronze' (below, along with leaves of Hechera 'Pewter Veil,' Cimicifuga 'Brunette,' and Geranium phaeum 'Samobor').
This may be the official first day of summer, but I've gardened for enough seasons to know that nothing is ever the same in the garden. You can't count on enjoying the same pairings of plants blooming together or your favorite shrub or vine producing more flowers each successive year. Change and uncertainty are what make gardening so frustrating and so enjoyable at the same time. During all these gorgeous Spring days, when others were clamoring for warmer weather, I reveled in the long slow unfolding of the season. I marveled at the lushness of the flowers and the length of blooming. I made myself stop — over and over again — to enjoy this special Spring, knowing I will never see another one quite like it.