What a spring we’re having! Hot, cold, panicky, rainy with a chance of Covid?

The following is a point of view with some collected observations loosely grouped around gardening.

As a landscape designer I’ve never, ever been so busy creating plans for people to get the most out of their yards (often building it themselves) including decks, raised veggie beds and patios to ‘stock tank pools’ and native planting plans. This seems to be the summer of learning to love where you are. As Douglas Tallamy might say ‘Bringing Nature Home’. (Google it and read the e-book from our Hamilton Public library)

No yard? No problem. Bayfront park and various trails originally wavered on whether they were open or not but even in the downtown core there were little spaces to escape to. One of my favorites lately has been ‘Lands Inlet’ near Wellington north of Barton. I’ve been taking regular walks to this little space with its native perennials, trees and shrubs planted by the Hamilton Naturalists club and Environment Hamilton. I frequently see Yellow warblers, a Northern Mockingbird, Red winged blackbirds, Song sparrows, Cedar Waxwings, a groundhog and multiple wild rabbits.

We can have nature at our back doorstep too. This solstice I became wildly excited when I saw a firefly in my extremely urban yard between Cannon and Barton. We also have a local Cardinal couple, and sometimes hawks (you can tell when all the other birds go silent) plus a monarch laid eggs on my milkweed today, thus justifying at least half the reason I have a garden. I added a birdbath to the front yard this spring and now I’m on the lookout for the sparrows splashing, see wasps and bees come to drink from the edge, and have a reason to check on the garden daily as I fill the bowl with fresh water every morning. Between the milkweed, the trees, the birds and caterpillars it fills a need to be in touch with the natural world and creates a multilayered ‘orchestra’ that ‘low maintenance’ AstroTurf, asphalt and concrete never will.

Recently I talked with a client who’s new to gardening; she explained how working in her yard, adding perennials and native plants, listening to birds, growing vegetables and watching for swallowtail caterpillars, has kept her from spiraling into a depression over Covid. I hardly think she’s alone in that situation.

As a final ‘snapshot’ I’ll leave you with this: The last couple of weeks I’ve been joined by a ladies choir who can’t sing together inside so have started volunteering to help weed & maintain  Sunset Garden (A volunteer maintained public parkette at Bay and Strachan where there’s more than enough space to social distance) – this week they blessed the space with a song as the sun set, the shadows were long, it was truly magical.

If there’s a silver lining to this spring it may be that many of us have had the space and time to prioritize what’s important, what truly brings joy, how important a green space can be whether public or private.