Sunday, April 11, 2010

Welcome back Green!

Easter Sunday at the Fellowship Lawn with kids hunting for eggs

I grew up in a very green place, but somehow those memories were lost on me. It took a trip there ten years ago to renew my awareness of Cuba to get a real sense of the place where I was born. My early life in Florida seemed green enough, but that too was over forty years ago. My family then moved to Chicago where I remember no green whatsoever just buildings and a big lake. Eventually my family moved to California and to Los Angeles. The trip my mother and I took to rejoin my father was on a Greyhound along route 66. Certainly I saw the green slowly disappear as we headed west. Yet, I thought that California was green enough. This was was the place where I first tended my own garden. But in fact it took a trip to the Mid-Atlantic region when I was checking out a return to graduate school that I rediscovered GREEN!

By East Coast standard California is brown. There a few days during the winter, after the January rains when the hills go green. Later on the California poppies bloom and turn entire hillsides orange, but when those fade the green there is anemic. Most plants that do well in California are a blue green that is adapted so little water is lost in transpiration and to reflects sun light. There are other greens but even in heavily irrigated gardens the green is mild, shy not bold. It is not the lush, verdant and velvety green that I see appearing all around me. Here Green is King. Trees change from brown trunks and branches to emerald cover practically overnight. Shrubs that were beige twigs seem to grown giant green butterflies on their branches. Daylilies that were little sprouts one day grow a foot in a week and change the character of gardens from that of brown mulch into a sea of green.

Of course, there are other colors here at the same time while the green is sneaking up on us. It is yellow, white, pink, purple and so many other colors, but green is behind everything and it is setting up the base color for what will be the entire growing season up until fall when it gives way to Autumn colors. A block from my house is a parking lot like no other. It is owned by the Diener Brick Company whose offices are across the street from this beautifully manicured garden. Every year the garden is replanted with bulbs and spruced up with new plants to make sure that we all share in the bounty of spring. If there is an Easter Bunny he certainly hides eggs in this marvelous garden bejeweled in all the colors of spring. It is a rare thing to see, and I am so glad that they do it.

Detail of Diener's Garden

Beside green the great triumph of Spring is the return of fragrance. What would be the worth of living in places that flood during the early season if that liquid did not find its way into the lush leaves and flowers and the perfumes that taunt us for this marvelous time of year. Hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, violets and viburnums all are rich in fragrant nectar that is everywhere exhilarating some and giving hay fever to others. My favorite is the Lilac whose short lived blossoms I tried to coax back when I lived in California. There, only in a few colder hillside areas where privy to their fragrant wonder, but few really had the opulence fragrance that is everywhere in our gardens. I have two plants. An American lilac near my front door to bathe it when I come out in the morning and a Persian lilac to drown out the main garden in its pungent perfume. They both fade quickly although their green remains and for a week to ten days the scent is like a paradise garden. Welcome back green!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! My lilac hasn't bloomed for 2 straight years so I have to do some research. Lilac is, to me, the scent of home as my grandmother always had a huge bush and equally huge bouquets inside the house. What an intoxicating scent!