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Spring Is a Generous Caller

Spring Is a Generous Caller
Bluebells and Lunaria vie for the maple's attention, just off my back porch.

What’s grand and glorious about the Pacific Northwest could not happen without the presence of rain, lots of rain—rain that sneaks in on a wind’s whisper or commands attention as a charging front headed toward the coast. Either way, I’ve grown to love the rain in all its forms. Whether sprinkles, mist, deluge or drizzle, there is still a comforting and hypnotic beauty during the region’s 9-month sodden sentence (as seen below in my chicken yard netting). Then again, by the end of winter, my mood is challenged daily by a combination of dark days and unrelenting rain.

Truth be told, I love sunshine, too. But on occasion, too many sunny days can faze me as an uncommon and unexpected anomaly that leaves me anxious and burning the candle at both ends. Every minute of dreamy blue-sky weather must be appropriately apportioned to the tasks at hand. It’s a nice problem to have.

And then one April day it happens, the sun finally makes an appearance on the westside of the house, for just enough time for me to smile on the reality that the pendulum is swinging back toward a more equitable amount light.

Clockwise from top left: cedar and vine maple; Lunaria biennis (money plant); violets; and my garden fountain.

I used to think of myself as more of a summer/autumn guy—eager for long days, deep shade and buckets of flowers on my tables. Now I welcome spring in a new way, one that took a decade of living in this house to appreciate. The slow process of putting one’s stamp on a place reveals itself in surprising ways and for me that has been my need to plant spring bulbs and flowers throughout my property.

Clockwise from top left: Camellia Taylor’s Pink Perfection; Narcissus poeticus; Lewisia cotyledon; York apple blossom.

There was never a grand plan to have my garden show off the riches of spring, but time unveiled such intention in my action. Every fall I’d plant a smattering of bulbs and flowers as a ritual of putting the garden to bed for the winter. (Deer-proof daffodils and narcissus played heavily in the rotation.) Each spring I’d be surprised and delighted by what a little effort in autumn could provide. And even better, sometimes nature would step in with her own devices, and paint a swale or meadow with the ease of a artist’s brushstroke (as seen in my back-porch bluebells). I never argue with Mother Nature; she seems to know what she’s doing (with the exception of brambles, nettles, knotweed, English ivy, moss and Scot’s broom, said the bitter gardener).

The dreamy light right before sunset.

I’d like to share some of the beauty with you; it’s wild and fraught with interlopers of the aforementioned ilk: weeds and brambles, but that just reminds me of who’s really in control of this palette and canvas. I may think I have the upper hand in this collaboration, but spring just smiles and presses on. 

Sunny Day Bonus!


  1. I know what you mean about having too many Puget Sound sunny days. We’re just waiting… what big storm is on it’s way?

    I love your bluebells. I have never planted any here at my house in Tacoma, but they are all over the garden!

  2. Some lovely photos, spring is a great time of the year.
    Bluebells are not a bulb that we see lot of here but I have 2 or 3 in my garden.
    Kaye Ward NZ

    • Thank you Kaye, New Zealand plants as well as Australian are becoming quite popular in the nursery trade in the U.S. – Most are beautiful and drought tolerant. Thanks for sharing! 😉

  3. Yes, those sunny days catch us Pacific Northwesters off guard sometimes. Expecting rain but getting a sunny afternoon is a real treat. So many tasks to do in a small window of time. I like the sun but also look forward to the rain! By the way, what brand of boots are you wearing in the hammock?? I wear Muck boots almost year round-seems the grass in the pastures never quite dry out. Those look like a great alternative.

    • Laura, the boots are Redbacks. It’s a great Australian boot, that really fits my troublesome, wide, flat feet well. And they are amazingly comfortable and provide much needed support for standing and moving all day. My new favorite boot, which is made very well, easy to slip on and off, and good for wet fields (though avoid standing water). Oh yes, and they look good .

  4. Hello From V and the Furry Gang.

    Oh the wonders of spring!

    The gang’s favourite is all the wonderful scents that have accumulated over the winter and with the wnow melt is so delightful to stop,assess, exam etc.

    Enjoy ,

    Viv and the Furry Gang

  5. We have had SUCH a late spring here in Montreal. I was out a couple of days ago taking pictures of the first daffodil, the first hyacinth, the first pulmonaria, etc., and this morning when I look out the window, the garden is suddenly awash with spring colour – isn’t nature magical and grand! Enjoy your rain, Tom, and I’ll enjoy my sunshine! I have Virginia bluebells, which self seed but are easily removed and make a wonderful show in the spring.

  6. Do you read Neruda? (“Rain, friend to those who dream and those who despair, companion of those who do not act and those who sit and wait.” ) He lived, as you do, in an especially rainy clime and that seeps through so much of his writing. Thanks for reminding me of him this morning. And congratulations to you & your smallholding for finding your way to another spring.

    • Anne, I have not read Neruda, but I will now. Thanks for penning that lovely line, piquing my interest and sharing such kind words.

  7. I also love the rain in all it’s many forms here in the NW, but have to admit we did return in the perfect season. You have captured it beautifully, Tom!

  8. Sunny days are welcome, but too many in succession have me crying out, “Sun, go AWAY!”

    Not today, though. Sun…stick around a bit, will ya?

    We too have many brambles, growing thickly around the edges of our property like the wall around Sleeping Beauty’s castle. (I annually battle bird-sown incursions in my flower beds.) However, in July one can pick gallons of delicious berries from those same brambles; they can stay.

  9. Nope, the Himalayan blackberry brambles remain my mortal enemy here on my spot on Bainbridge Island.

    Even while sleeping I keep one eye opened and cocked towards the creeping tentacles coming out of the woods towards my house growing at an alarming rate…seemingly at least 4 “ per day, which every day is an increasing exponential number equalling zillions of new inches.

    Lovely photos Tom! Do the deer like the violets?

    • Chris, I can hear them growing at dusk. Beware of the brambles and keep your windows closed at night. 😉 The deer have not touched my violets, but that could be only because they’ve yet to discover that particular path.

  10. What a beautiful garden patch! Even Martha Stewart would be envious. Well done!! Another good thing about 9 months of rainy, chilly days–it’s much easier to get enough sleep. In the summer I want to be outside every minute and with so much daylight, it’s hard to get to bed.

    • Hi Karen, thanks for the compliment, but I would worry Ms. Stewart would pass out and need resuscitation, if she witnessed my weedy bedd and garden wilds. 😉


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