Spring in the Cove: Six

At the best of times, I have a short little span of attention, and THESE times are not helping. So while we isolate here at home, maybe I can show you what I’m noticing in the spring landscape, and around the site, cause that is mostly what I’m doing anyway.

So what has happened since my last report? Well, it snowed again, one of those “so beautiful” in November and “really, do you have to” in late April.

More damaging to many plants, there is still frost. The average last frost day in Halifax is about May 6.

On the coldest nights we cover one of our earliest rhododendrons. If Airy Fairy gets frosted the delicate blooms collapse into what looks like balls of wet tissue paper.

Toilet paper envy feels so long ago. Post yeast, the world has turned to seed frenzy, a movement I can get behind. Fortunately, we are seed rich and all our sunny windowsills have seed trays that are checked as often as a phone. Each little spot of green is a like.

Some peas and lettuce seeds, that are cold tolerant, have gone in the ground. The garlic that was planted last fall is upstanding.

Trying to understand what plants want and need is frustrating and rewarding. However, our relationship with the animal kingdom has become irritating and heartbreaking.

On the low end of the scale are attempts by starlings to nest in cavities in our house. We realized they had discovered some weakness in a fascia board and were arriving with nesting material. I leaned out a third story window and hung one of our scare cats on a nearby drain pipe and waved a rag tied to a broom handle whenever they were sighted. To everyone’s surprise this may actually have worked! Later saw the starlings investigating the dryer vent.

The real life-changing attacks come from deer. When we moved here, 25 years ago, there were no deer. As they began to appear we made various accommodations: no tulips, expect the hostas to be cleaned up at the end of summer. This year there has been a real explosion and they are eating plants, like large-leafed rhododendrons, that had not been on their menu before. There is now daily vandalism by a herd that is larger than I can count at once, 10 or so. Almost worse than their eating are the trampled flowerbeds. Looks like a dozen devils had a dance around the blue poppies.

The other day I made a cardboard guard dog with a glass eye. I’m not sure why I was compelled to do this, perhaps the need to create some sort of a talisman. As I work in the garden I’m aware of it swiveling in the wind. Of course the deer don’t understand or care.

And deer are also trying to kill us. If it is not on the roads, it is with the ticks they have brought to our landscape. Here is the massive, infected tick bite I got last year, right in my own yard. We are doomed.

Postscript

Of course there are bigger things to mourn too. On Sunday we went across the road to look at HMCS Ville de Quebec, where Battle of the Atlantic ceremonies were being performed.

Later the Snowbirds flew past, reminding us of almost more than we could remember.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.

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