On Being a Farm Wife


“Oh, everything is so green,” commented a friend who stopped by one recent morning to drop off some excess iris plants she was hunting homes for in other gardens.

We were standing on our back porch, looking out over our lower yard, which looks out to the meadow and the fields farther below. The scene stretches on to the woodlot and draws your eyes toward the distant hills. At this halfway point in spring, as April showers are giving way to May flowers, our “local world” is about as green as it can possibly get.

So many shades of green color reside in our outdoor palette. Even the lawn grass blends to subtly varying shades, a bit lighter where it basks in all-day sunshine, a deeper hue where overhead trees temper the sunlight it receives for at least a portion of each day. The solid, dark-green rye cover crop on the hill above the farm is transformed in a matter of hours to a picture-pretty, corduroy-like design of alternating light and dark green stripes, after being windrowed for haylage.

Fat clumps of allium bulbs — soon-to-open fat balls of tiny purple blooms atop leggy stems — add accents to the backyard shade garden. Their naturally gray-toned leaves make them look almost anemic and in need of a boost of fertilizer, but they make a nice contrast in the bed of bulbs with the darker-green daffodil clumps and tulip foliage that fall somewhere in between the myriad green colors around the farm.

Scattered like confetti all over the porches, sidewalks, deck and the road past the house are maple “flowers,” tree droppings in that nearly neon, chartreuse-green shade so widely seen on shirts and vests worn by highway crews and emergency personnel. Sweeping them away only clears the landscape for the next batch of fashionable, chartreuse fallout.

The “green-ness” that encompasses the farm and our neighborhood is so intense and so all-pervasive that it almost feels like sensual overload after the seemingly endless, beige landscapes of winter. And, with her typical artistic touch, Mother Nature dots our landscape with accents in beautiful crayon-box contrasts to the background curtain of greenery.

Years ago, The Farmer found some bargain-priced fruit and ornamental trees on a season-end sale, hauled them home and planted them at various spots around the meadow ponds. On the farthest bank of the most distant pond, two flowering cherry youngsters took root, thriving in the cool dampness of the site, and have grown full and wide, each now well over 20 feet tall.

Each year, as April fades to May, the flowering cherry sisters transform into Cinderellas of the meadow, briefly festooned in stunning pink, pom-pom-like blossoms, lending them a “fluffy” look. The effect is stunning, doubly so when the lovely pink sisters are reflected in the dark, still waters of the pond at their feet.

Lilacs — several tall bushes sporting the traditional lavender along with a white one, the offspring from a sprawling parent plant grown by my mom — add accents of lovely color to the background of greens around the yard. More lilacs, also planted by The Farmer when the ponds were newly established, continue to bloom, so far defying the creeping invasion of black walnut seedlings.

Yet another of the plant legacies I treasure from my mom is our flowering dogwood in the back border, opening its white blossoms in concert with the lavender lilacs nearby. Each white dogwood petal is dotted with a tiny bit of red, reflecting a legend kept on by faithful gardeners that each crimson spot represents the droplets of blood of the Crucifixion.

One of my “bucket list” wishes is to visit the Western deserts during the brief spring season when the wildflowers bloom. I’ve seen the deserts in the summertime and in the winter, when only the uniqueness of the cactus and related succulents break the monotony of dry brown and browner, albeit with its own sort of beauty.

But living where there would be no burst of springtime greenery, covering everything from the top of the soil cover to the tips of our myriad hardwood trees, has no attraction to me.

Give me greenery, from early spring when it bursts forth from winter’s drabness to its annual finale into glorious color, like living fireworks exploding across fall landscapes.

And the beautiful flowering trees of early May are a bonus, a dazzling, colorful jewelry on nature’s annual green fashion statement.

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.