“Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)”

I have two apple trees in the backyard that are full of white flower buds. The older tree has some open flowers. There are no cherry trees in the neighborhood, although two houses east of me the yard has several flowering crabapples with bright pink flowers. The Twin Cities seeming skipped spring and rushed headlong into summer, so some mambo music is perfect. Perez Prado recorded “Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)” in 1955 as an instrumental and it seemed quite appropriate for today. The weather has provided a mambo beat with a steady drone of thunder and syncopated drumming of raindrops on the porch roof. The only thing missing is “more cowbell” (or at least some cowbell).

Skipping spring is not an exaggeration. One week ago today, the low temperature was 31°F, which just missed tying the record low of 28°F. Within 48 hours, the high temperature set a record high of 98°F. Even though Minnesota is known for extreme weather, going from frostbite to heat stroke in such a short period is unusual. Over 4 inches of rain falling since Thursday has accelerated blooms in the gardens. A cold and snowy April added to the precipitation total. I hope the copious rains also do not create a bumper crop of ticks, mosquitoes, and sandflies. The area is under its first tornado watch, first severe thunderstorm warning, and urban flood watch of the season. Ah, summer in Minnesota. I am positive there will be a push to put a retractable roof on Target Field even though the architects say it can’t be realistically done. The Twins might have to finish their game today wearing scuba gear.

The early blooming flowers and shrubs are done for the season. There were no crocus blooms this year, but the squills and snowdrops were above average, and the forsythia was absolutely loaded with yellow flowers. Tulips, daffodils, the apple trees, and the miniature irises are blooming along with the early blooming white lilac. The purple lilacs are close, and the pink Canadian lilac will bloom from the time the purple lilacs are done in early June until mid-July. It will rebloom in mid-September.

The winter took a toll on some of the plants. The Russian sage, the red twig dogwood, the cottoneaster, a shrub rose, and the Miss Kim Korean lilac did not make it. All had been looking sickly for the past couple years so I was not surprised. The red twig dogwood is replaced by a lilac with white edged purple flowers. I will not replace the cottoneaster, but will plant a knockout rose in its place. The Russian sage gets replaced when the weather dries out.

Gardening has taught me many things through the years. Dealing with adversity, not having total control over the environment, and learning to complete as many tasks as possible because the weather may not cooperate are some of the life lessons. Gardening also gives me an appreciation for the intricacies of nature, the fascination of seeing a startled chirping hummingbird staring me in the face, of watching robins and cardinals tending to their young, of finally seeing bluebirds on a regular basis, and of dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and moths adding grace and color to the scenery.

So maybe the dahlias will get nailed with an early frost or get shredded by hail before they finish blooming. Maybe torrential rain like today will wash away carefully planted seeds. Perhaps a drought later this season will stunt the apple and raspberry growth or Japanese beetles will cause damage. These are all outside my control although I will take reasonable steps to minimize or mitigate damage. Perseverance is the most important life lesson learned from gardening. Lucy’s determination to overcome gardening adversities helped her in her cancer battle.

The second wave of showers ended, but a particularly strong third wave just hit my area. It is still too early in the day for a rainbow or double rainbow. If the humidity stays this high and the cloud cover to the west breaks up, perhaps this area will be fortunate to see one.

Take the time to give your loved ones a meaningful hug and let them know you care. Please help me wish a happy birthday to cousin Mary, and a happy birthday to Micaela!

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