One night this week I had friends to dinner, and it was a lot of fun to plan the menu, which in this case included a soup course. I always intend to make cream of asparagus soup at least once in springtime, but don’t usually get to it, even though I harvest several pounds of that vegetable from my front yard plot for a few weeks running. Having someone to share it with gave me the added push.
So I used my own asparagus, and an equal amount of leeks from the store — just over a pound each, chopped. I sautéed them together in butter with fresh tarragon leaves, also from my garden. Just before everything started to brown, I removed the flower tips of the asparagus to a little bowl, and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of flour. I added a quart of chicken stock and cooked all of that together for 10-15 minutes, then used an immersion blender to make it smooth. Added salt and pepper to taste. After I’d ladled it into bowls I dropped a few of the reserved asparagus tips on top of each serving. We were all deep in conversation at that point so the thought of taking a picture of the lovely green soup never came into my head. (I also forgot that I’d planned to drizzle on a little cream.) But earlier I had noticed the beauty of the panful of chopped vegetables and leaves…
You will have to imagine the look of the creamy green soup.
We stopped talking and slurped it up joyfully.
The garden always seems to have an intention of its own, apart from what I have planned for it. Last year I planted several new milkweed varieties on the south side, and none of them has emerged as yet. But under the fig tree the hearty Showy Milkweed volunteers have arrived as a whole regiment, even sprouting up through the lithodora.
So many of the welcome flowers are of the blue and purple hues, like Blue-eyed Grass and the first salvia bloom. I planted the sweet pea flowers in a row where chives were already growing; the chives are huge now, and I might have to cut them back to clear the way for the sweet peas to see the sun.
A single anonymous sweet pea volunteered in a big pot, back in the fall, and was trailing all over the path, so that I was stepping on it. So I stuck a mobile trellis next to the greenhouse and tied it up there.
This pink jasmine is finally thriving on a trellis against the fence. It looks pretty right now, but soon the salvia will send out its long branches and hide it. The garden is definitely overcrowded in spots….
One of the areas that felt overcrowded was in the front garden where a False Cypress grew. It was getting too big for my taste, and it’s kind of scruffy, so I took it out. Now more sunlight can come into my living room. I will replace it with something smaller and more interesting in the fall.
Borage has been surprising me by sprouting here and there, encouraged by all the rain; this is the most vigorous of the plants, and it’s in a place where I might remember to squirt it with the hose occasionally and keep it growing through the summer. (That ferny plant surrounding it is Love-in-a-Mist.) I don’t often use borage for anything, but the bees do! I hope it will grow away from the nearby fig tree, so that in late summer when I’m picking figs, I won’t be encroaching on the bees’ favorite feasting grounds. It will be interesting, day by day, to see how all the plants and insects and birds — and the gardener — coordinate their work for the maximum enjoyment of all.
Yesterday afternoon the garden was brilliant under the sunbeams that followed rain showers. This strip of purple caught my eye, revealing itself to be violets that had quietly grown lush over the wet winter, along the edge of the patio where they also had planted themselves years ago. Sometimes they volunteer in pots and choke out whatever I had intended to nurture, but this little border didn’t encroach on anything, so I was pleased to see them suddenly dressed in their purple gowns, as one more sign announcing: SPRING!
I’m afraid my grandchildren went home before the violets bloomed, but I will invite a few young outdoorsy friends over soon, and invite them to gather happiness in their small hands.
CHILDREN, IT’S SPRING
And this is the lady Whom everyone loves, Ms. Violet in her purple gown
Or, on special occasions, A dress the color Of sunlight. She sits In the mossy weeds and waits
To be noticed. She loves dampness. She loves attention. She loves especially
To be picked by careful fingers, Young fingers, entranced By what has happened To the world.
We, the older ones, Call it Spring, And we have been through it Many times.
But there is still nothing Like the children bringing home Such happiness In their small hands.