I am not prey to the swoon of spring. As a seasoned gardener of thirty years, I have learned to mute its siren call, not from fear of seduction as much as dread of another ten-month-long growing season, full of malevolent surprise, unending work, and rampant change. When April comes, “breeding lilacs out of the dead land,” I take perverse delight in telephoning my friends in northern Vermont to be soothed by their reports of bone chilling cold, naked branches, and three inches of fresh snow.
In our West Coast garden, spring pounces in early February, coaxing groundhogs out of their winter burrows. Caught in the thick tide of vernal upwelling, I yearn for an anchor in the present moment, to prevent my being swept away by the flood of the seasons. The primeval magnolia is such a mooring plant for me.