As Spring Arrives, A Return To The Garden

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Host Jacki Lyden shares some thoughts on the first weekend of spring.


From the table, back to the garden, and a few parting thoughts. I don't have a kitchen garden, really. A few herbs in a window box. And I don't have a kitchen gardener's patience for weeding, and I don't have much sun.

What I plant for the first sign of spring is scilla siberica alba, also known as Siberian Squill. Not a lovely name, but its white flowers pour out of the earth like sprays of sea foam.

I planted it beneath a Japanese maple in my sightline from an upper window. And when I see the Siberian Squill, I know spring's here.

I also plant snowdrops and crocuses right beside a busy avenue. People pitch cigarette butts and other detritus into them, but up they come.

LYDEN: That's what it is to dig a garden, particularly in the fall for the spring. You plant something in the autumn, like a flower bulb, and the energy, the fantastic energy of it, goes on and on through the long winter months, through the rugged disdain of news, the avalanche of woes and winds of winter.

And here comes this redemptive, perfect little link to a cycle bigger than our frailty and our folly. To see a six-inch snowdrop with its knotting white and green chapeau plied with snow is to make a gardener think, I can take that. I can take it. If a snowdrop can take it, I can too. It makes me pause.

While we have labored, labored just to be this winter, amid downpours of uncertainty, the certainty of the garden has been enduring. I love seeing my garden with all its sultry names wake up from winter. I look out the window as soon as it's light.

There are the edgy, tooth-leaved hellebores, my show girls, flaunting saucy flounces of creamy white, hot magenta. And oh, the Helleborus foetidus, the stinking hellebore. She's racy, and her flower bells are my favorite color, chartreuse.

I can guarantee that if you plant this drought tolerant, tough and leathery perennial, the hellebore, you will never be alone in early spring. And no matter what the state of your heart, you will have her charms.

From the groundbreaking Michelle Obama and the daffodil-gazing William Wordsworth, amid the fields of grain and shoots of earliest green, we plant our hopes in the ground. And while the garden may be wordless, the endeavor and creativity it inspires seems almost boundless. Seasons past, seasons to come.

Wordsworth's poem ends: For oft when on my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood, may flash upon the inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude. And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.

My favorite garden daffodil is a tiny one called (unintelligible), a screaming, show-stopping neon yellow. You look at it, mesmerized, while in some distant place the world rushes by, the music ends.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: And that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden, dig it.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from