It has been said that human life, and our mortal fall, happened in a garden. But for over two thousand years, Christians worldwide have celebrated Easter as a rebirth - and how appropriate it is for all of us to celebrate this season as a reawakening of our own garden!
Throughout all parts of the country, by the end of March and early April most seasoned gardeners have spring bulbs, flowering shrubs and wildflowers to kick-start the unfurling of spring. Some have already had azaleas come into full bloom, while others are just seeing blankets of crocus, early daffodils, snowdrops and hellebores peeping through what is hopefully the last snow of the season.
But any garden, even a normally-manicured suburban one, can be quickly transformed into a temporary celebration of Easter and the coming of spring.
First off, there is no rule saying this sort of garden has to be outdoors. No matter the weather, you can easily fill a lined wicker basket with a small pot or two of flowering bulbs from a garden center, florist or supermarket flower center, and adorn it with ribbons and small Easter or spring-themed accessories for a really cheerful display. Some accessories can be used to create even a religious theme.
By the way, in many areas of the country, potted Easter lilies, which are grown in specially-lighted greenhouses to get them to bloom on time, can be set out in the garden later. With deep, well-drained soil and plenty of mulch, they often become reliable garden perennials, though in subsequent years they naturally flower later in the spring.
Take It Outside
Even very small cottage gardens will have spots to hide a few painted Easter eggs for children to find; if you have no children at home, why not invite those of neighbors or friends? Just make sure you let them know how many there are to find, and hide them in plain sight so the youngsters don’t trample all your other flowers in their excitement. While you are at it, include a foil-wrapped chocolate bunny or two as well, and tuck in a little of that fake grass that is so ubiquitous in store-bought Easter baskets.
Fill some of the plastic eggs with candy, but try to also include a few with garden seeds inside, so the young gardeners will be encouraged to plant something of their own.
One of the most common yet unusual Easter garden accessories, which I have seen from coast to coast in every kind of neighborhood, is the Easter egg shrub or tree. Reminiscent of Christmas or Halloween garden adornments, they are seen as a bit tacky by some folks, but to me are pure joie de vivre - an exultation of seasonal spirit!
An Easter garden can be planned well ahead of time, with fall-planted bulbs and cold-hardy annuals that flower soon after the spring equinox, and accessorized for Easter. Or it can be thrown together at the last minute for a garden party or as a place to thrill children with an Easter egg hunt.
My main advice for the latter is, just don’t leave the chocolate bunny out in the sun for too long…