Notes from the Garden: Shinryoku ...

Just enough rain to make the baseball game a muddy affair and keep the slugs actively sliming their way through our garden treasures, but not enough rain to penetrate the new, unfurling canopies of our deciduous trees. Check under your evergreen trees and shrubs and you will find very dry soil conditions. Check under and around other plants and you will find that the soil is scarcely muddy or sodden as it was just a few short weeks ago. This sudden dryness is in such contrast to the tender and verdant growth that is happening with such abandon throughout our landscapes.

Spring in the Northwest is such a watery affair. The days usually start with a wet, deep grayness and then end in stunning, slanting rays of sunshine lighting up the glistening drops still remaining from the morning wetness. There may be the drama of a sudden and slightly violent squall with the wind tearing at the tender new growth. But as a dear and bright and articulate gardening friend said recently, the faster the wind blows, the faster the squall is over.

With the lingering sunshine in the evening hours we dream of the months ahead that will be filled with hiking our favorite trails, sailing into new harbors, picnics with friends, and warming our bodies and souls with the full and warm summer light. But I am sorry to remind all of us that we have yet to have "boating" opening day (always miserably cold and wet) and the Fourth of July, predictably wet and cool here in the Northwest.

So, we need to find ways to treasure those moments of dramatic squalls and tender new growth, and the sense of renewal that surrounds us every day. The Japanese have a word, or rather a Kanji, which is a Chinese character with a peculiar pattern used by the Japanese. For this season, the Kanji is Shinryoku, which briefly translated means new green. It also directly refers to the fresh verdure of spring.

Last year I was fortunate to be in Japan for their Shinryoku season. During this season they have national holidays from the end of April through the first week in May. They all travel to their favorite sites to view this verdure. As you travel through their islands by train, you can see this chartreuse/green in the hillsides. Their rice paddies show just a very modest green glint. It is a time to renew, and they take that time and create an awareness of the season. For years I have been grappling with finding the words, or a word, that could capture the intensity and the simplicity of this time of the year.

I found it: Shinryoku.[[In-content Ad]]