Sunday’s warm weather inspired me to start an annual task that’s tedious but necessary, slightly sad but with the promise of joy: Cleaning the lavender bed. The yard drops off steeply along the front walkway so the bed gets lots of sun, has good drainage – a good spot for lavender. For years we were graced with an enviable abundance of fragrant blooms. Trimming back the faded first bloom ensured a second bloom.
As with most things, time hasn’t been entirely kind. The older plants are no longer as vigorous. The gnarled old growth at the base of those plants looks like miniature grapevines – ruggedly attractive but wholly unproductive. At the front of the bed, the oldest plants have a horizontal rather than vertical habit. The newer plants grow upward, balancing the overall appearance. Scattered gaps in the bed are reminders of varieties unable to withstand Midwestern winters. Perhaps the poor seedlings didn’t read the labels promising sufficient hardiness. They didn’t know they were supposed to survive.
This year I’m taking the task slowly, pruning with more thoughtfulness, kindness. The joy these plants can still give has to be coaxed out gently; trimming properly and, just as important, leaving well-spaced branches should reward us all in a couple of months.
After picking up the tools, I put the bin of trimmed branches in the garage, the pale scent of last year’s lavender filled the air.