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Notes From Madoo

   A magnificent spring it is, it is. On the immediate dry side, yes, but an annual superfluity of rain just might redress present lack.
   My pessimism, of course (a very good extra ligament in a gardener’s equipage of agile responses to the weather) predicts a very long, very hard period of nighttime frost as well as, perhaps, a blizzard. Or at least a slush. If one wants to stay on the side of the angels, it is best to doze in the shadow of a very dark cloud, but as I am in mode recovery after four hospitalizations, the world is unbelievably fresh and most dusty things shine as if newly hatched and soon to fledge, and the smallest accomplishment provides delight.
    The greenhouse prospers under new fingers thinning and transplanting. A quivery, thriving sight. I am about to employ a little regimen that involves sliding a single sheet of newspaper (painter’s newsprint will do) over the tops of all growth, a technique that inhibits tomato plants and makes them compact and sturdier. This is done three times a session, three times a day. And, please, no lapse in the schedule lest one rediscovers just how aware and responsive a plant can be. Think that you are erasing a plant’s glass ceiling and you will have it. Of course, understand that such knowledge is in no way weighable or reliably provable. Henry James did not write fairy tales yet his roses always lost petals when someone of evil intent entered a room.
    Shipments already. Shallots and champagne currants are already installed in the revised potager, alas, dependent on packaged cow manure, all possible local sources having been already promised. Claude Monet died with his recipe for fertilizer unrevealed. It is said to have included the efforts of chickens and pigs as well as cows and horses. Even his nasturtiums exhibited wizard growth and blossom. (No notes on his water lilies, which were, by the way, newly minted hybrids sent him by a Parisian grower.)
    February Gold, a robust triandrus daffodil, generally inaptly named, has for the first time bloomed in its natal month and is flourishing into April as if glad to come out from its usual overcast behavior. Rampant scarlet tulips in pots and beds, lavish displays of coreopsis (spicata and pauciflora), and magnolia stellata . . . and, of course, rafts of caltha palistris, whose charming but weedy effusion leaps out from wherever it has ever landed (which is everywhere). It melts away in summer, but it leaves bare spots as it does.
    Forsythia, of course, flaunt, daunt, darken the season from every garden, and each and every hedge and each and every hedgerow. There is even one, close by, abloom in the primary cleft of a Chinese elm. Pure impertinent yawp. Absolute yellow peril.