First April

I live in a tiny, century-old, dilapidated house in a worse-for-wear corner of Montreal.  When we visited the house for the first time last March,  we immediately fell in love with it, not least because it was a HOUSE (until then, we had seen only condos).

We paid little attention to the yard, however.  For one thing,  it was so small; for another, it was under a scab of dirty, half-melted snow.  Neither of us had ever really gardened.  There were trees, which pleased us, and the yard was ours, which would please the cats.  Otherwise, we paid it little mind.

When we next saw the house, it was June, just a week or so before we were to move in.  From the outside, it was an entirely different place.  The birch tree and two lilacs, now covered with leaves (the lilac blooms were long gone), turned the house into a hobbitty overgrown cottage.  There was grass on one side of the front lawn, and some persistent tulips on the other.  Under the living room window, a bed was bursting with daylilies and gooseneck loosestrife.  In the back yard was another bed of goosenecks, and one of proud raspberry canes.  The current owner was digging and piling up masses of mint, and apologizing to us for their minty error.

(I spent my first morning after we moved in pulling mint and dreaming of garden possibilities.  Then I made mint tea, which my husband was unwilling to drink, perhaps because of the stray cats wandering the neighbourhood and insisting that our yard was their own.)

Now I’m seeing the house in April for the first time.

In the front yard, the lilacs are in bud.


A little patch of yellow eranthis buttercups, with a couple of purple crocus friends, shines under the naked hydrangea, right in the spot where Cat B lived for the first three months of our tenure here, when he would come indoors only to eat, because he was so angry with us.


A whole bunch of bulbs are leafing all over the place – we assume some are tulips, but the others are a mystery.


We’re worried that the birch tree might be dead – the tree doctor will return in May to see…


…but we think that the cedar bush will make it, despite an irritable hacking my husband gave it when it took up too much room in October.


Behind the house, I’ve set up a couple of wooden crates that my husband has donated.  I’ve transplanted the onions and sown the carrots and peas, and am hoping that the freak snowfall a couple of weeks ago didn’t kill them.


I am bringing the pots of kale, lettuce, spinach and rapini seedlings out daily – I might even leave the kale outdoors tonight.


The dwarf Alberta spruce, which looked pretty battered at the beginning of the month, are plumping up nicely.


The raspberries may be done for, as I pruned them too ruthlessly in the fall (ok, fine, I chopped them all down because I didn’t know  what I was doing – you got me.)  That’s ok.  They were making the wasps a little too happy.


All sorts of things are happening in this garden that I don’t even know about.  I can’t wait to see it through this last of our four seasons here, and to transform and nurture it through many more.


This post was written in response to a prompt from Gayla Trail.  Gayla is sponsoring “The Grow Write Guild” on her excellent gardening site You Grow Girl.


8 thoughts on “First April

  1. How exciting, to begin the months of discovery in your new landscape! I look forward to seeing what you find and do. I think the plants sprouting in a V-shaped pattern (the ones near the fence) may be daylilies; that’s what mine look like when they emerge. And as for the birch tree, if you can reach a lower limb, you might try scratching off a tiny spot of bark with your fingernail or a sharp knife. If you see green wood beneath, it’s alive. Good luck! I shall be wishing I were in your plot when August rolls around, I guarantee. 🙂

    • I was so hoping someone would identify those bulbs for me – thank you! I love daylilies, so I will look forward to them. I will check out the flesh of the birch – my husband swears he can see some buds, although I’m convinced they are just leaf remnants from last fall…

  2. How great that you get to transform this yard while learning about the current occupants. For me it is much easier to work with some established plants than to have a blank slate. Hope your snow is done now.

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