I love the rain. Generally it cannot rain enough for me. I used to enjoy wading in knee-deep water on my way to class in college and, years ago, spent a delirious day in the Canary Islands in a monsoon-like downpour that was as warm as bathwater. A pair of beloved shoes was destroyed, but I still remember that feeling of complete unity with the elements as one of the happiest of my life. This spring’s extraordinarily wet weather has made the greens of our gardens, lawns, woods and fields incredibly vibrant. The chartreuses and golds in my garden plants often get burned and bleached with the abrupt transition in mid-May from cloudy and cool to sunny and hot. Not this year. Instead, they are glowing against the deeper greens of conifers and broadleaved evergreens. All the water-loving plants are spectacular. My Ligularia are a little lacy from the slugs (who have also enjoyed the rain), but I just do a daily slug inspection on their foliage which keeps most of the damage at bay, and the plants are tall and glossy. My Rodgersia have never been bigger and the cultivar ‘Chocolate Wings’ actually looks chocolate-y because the leaves have not seen the sun at all. All the plants I have been moving around have been able to settle in at their leisure, and I, ever one to push the envelope, have a dozen others that have been uprooted but never replanted. The rainy weather is all that is protecting them at this point. (When the sun does re-emerge, as it is supposed to this weekend, I will have a marathon planting session–I won’t let them just die, but afterward easily half of them will still be in the wrong spot.)
On the other hand, I am engulfed in weeds. The weeds are also taller, glossier and more virile than ever before, and of all the things I love to do in the rain, weeding is not one of them. I don’t so much mind getting wet, I often plant in the rain, but I weed on my hands and knees and I really hate getting slapped in the face with a plume of grass as I try to wrestle it out of the ground. I also resent the huge clumps of sticky clay that cling to the roots of each plant after I get it out of the ground. I am a gardening minimalist when it come to tools, I have used the same single spade for over 20 years (everyone else knows to never touch it; they freely rifle my bag and wallet for keys, credit cards, checks and cash, but there be monsters guarding my spade), but my biggest category of tools is those used for weeding. Still, with my clayey soil I feel more like I am making pottery than gardening when it is wet. I whack the root against big rocks to dislodge the soil, and usually end up with a root ball encased in a cube of clay. So, between the luxuriant weed growth, and my reluctance to tackle it due to the weather, my garden is a jungle. And not the pretty tropical kind, either. The really messy, ugly kind. And it is under these conditions that the doubts start to creep in–that I will never be able to maintain this whole garden alone, that I will always be behind, and that therefore it will never have the polished look that any good garden requires. That I have violated my own resolutions to keep it smaller and more manageable. That I am too old/lazy/busy to have the garden of my dreams. But since there is nothing else material that I want as much I am putting all those doubts aside and going out to weed in the rain. Onward, ever onward!