In my many years producing gardening shows for television and writing about gardens for newspapers, I had many chances to visit with Dave and Cathy Cummins in their wonderful Dundas garden. This column from April 2006 rejoices in spring.
Evidence of spring continues to percolate. Just look at the clump of crocus snugged up to a warm rock, their saffron centres smiling at the sun. Such is the poetic scene in the garden of Dave Cummins of Dundas.
On this fine spring day he is removing his homespun solution to foraging deer. He looks for all the world, like he is mending fishing nets in Newfoundland. He is actually untangling the black plastic netting he uses over his loved plants, to keep them from being inhaled by the rude mannered invaders.
I tell him about Plantskydd (plantskydd.com), a repellent that the wise photographer Freeman Patterson swears keeps the deer out of his New Brunswick garden.
While Cummins ponders the tip, I retreat to his greenhouse. A pipsqueak of a greenhouse that has over 14 years produced thousand of plants for the Cummins annual Victoria Day plant sale.
It is about 12C in the garden air, and at least 23C in the greenhouse. Geraniums are in bloom, coleus has stacks of multicoloured leaves, and a begonia hunches over under the weight of its flowers.
It’s fantastically uplifting to be in this greenhouse full of life. And evidence of spring to see it being filled with future treasures. This season Cummins, ever the handicapper of flowers for which the crowds will clamour, likes the precocious yellow petunia called ‘Limoncello’ (seeds available at Dominion Seed House) Yellow petunias for the most part have been weak of mind and body, this one he thinks will have a deeper yellow colour.
If you’re smart enough to have sorrel in the garden, it’s up and ready to be picked. Have it in soup, or make a sauce for salmon, it’s got the zing of a freshly squeezed lemon.
Isn’t it grand too, that there is spare sun at the end of the day. You can march right into the garden and saw back some ornamental grasses, or pick off the papery remains of hosta leaves. I chose to shear back the gangly growth of euonymus by the setting sun. Every year it gets covered in scale, I ignore, and it seems to soldier on. My philosophy to plagues in general is to turn the other cheek.
From now on it’s pure gravy in the garden. A new leaf, a new flower, a new bird arriving like new stock at Winners.