Survivors

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You have to be tough to live where we live. Especially when it’s May 10th, rainy, and 6 degrees Celsius, and you know that this weekend (Mother’s Day) usually marks the beginning of camping season in the Maritimes!

Our winters can be long and harsh; spring lasts about two weeks (if we don’t skip it altogether), and our summers are too, too short. Fall is my favourite season, with the harvest, the changing leaves, no bugs – but it takes all year to get there.

As soon as the weather warms up – or, if I’m desperate to get outdoors, or, you know, despite the fact that it’s May 10th and 6 degrees outside – you can find me outside poking around in my garden. Living right on the edge of Zone 5a/5b, it doesn’t take long to figure out which plants are also tough enough to live in the Maritimes. Although we have seen part of the general global warming trend over the past couple of years, some shrubs, flowers, and other plants are just too persnickety for this climate.

I am always super pumped to find out which of my friends have survived the winter. The snow load – the salt – the frost (or sometimes not-frost) – the ice storms – the stress from the fall rains – and this week, the spring rains!: which plants made it, and which plants did not. A large branch of the spirea cracked off with the snow load and the shrub is quite slow in coming to bud this year. The dogwood branches are as red as ever – but again, slow coming to bud. When I unwrapped my rhododendron, though, this is what I was greeted with: DSC02962

I do not think she will survive (in that I’m tired of her prissiness!). She has been in the family for 15 years, and I’ve moved her twice: she and I just do not get along, so it’s time to cut the strings. On the other hand, I have been super lucky with tulip migration: I tried once to dig them all up and put them on the south side of the house, but now they are appearing in the gardens on the east side of the house as well.

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We live on a double lot on the edge of town, and every spring it is fascinating to see the microclimate even in my little yard. Look at my neighbour’s forsythia, for instance – while mine, only a few metres away and down the hill, with a little bit of wet feet, is stubbornly refusing to pop its buds just yet. My lilies on the southwest side of the house – sheltered by a hedge of nine-barks – are happy as clams, despite the snow we got just a couple of short weeks ago.

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On my way home from work this afternoon, I stopped by the swan pond to take a few pictures of more winter survivors: a few stubborn daffodils, and then the beautiful, glorious, independent magnolias in front of the Marjorie Young Bell Conservatory of Music at Mount Allison University.

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May we all learn to embrace these miserable spring days as well as the magnolias do!

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