Gardens are gifts to ourselves and wildlife. The once sadly neglected gardens at our home are once again a place of refuge for humans as well as animals and birds. It’s taken time, back-breaking labor, and lots of patience.

The previous owners hadn’t been able to keep things up, but since our house was a designated Certified Habitat for Wildlife, the beginnings were there.  Over the last six years, we’ve trimmed, removed dead trees, cleared brush gone wild, planted, and watered until we had a garden and could sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

There were times of throwing our hands in the air and shouting what’s the point? We wrestled with hoses and tripped over shovels. Our backs hurt. Our shoulders ached.

But we persevered.

What began as pitiful patches of sickly grass, haggard shrubs, sad old crepe myrtles, a neglected dogwood, and a sad tulip magnolia, returned to life. The birds and butterflies came back. Our backyard became a busy wildlife place again.

Then Mother Nature stuck with four days of below-freezing temperatures and crippled our efforts. Our garden sanctuary was once again dead and desolate.

Ugly brown foliage was all we saw from the porch swing. The creek fountain sprung a leak. The birdbaths were abandoned. Gone was the respite of sitting on the porch.

Spring-like weather finally arrived but the yard wasn’t the same. Missing the birds and the blooms, we started over.

We found the pond leaks and sealed them. The fountain flows again.  Water trickles over the creek bed into the pond. A helper cleared the frostbitten plants and weeds, removed dead shrubs, and dug holes for new shrubbery, then spread mulch. College boy neighbors, on spring break and needing cash, cleared the roof and raked debris into thirteen bags.

Weeks later zinnia and marigold seeds are sprouting. Four o’clocks and Cardinal plants are popping up in the dirt behind the patio and fountain. The Angel Trumpet has new growth and the freshly planted Arbor Day seedlings have tiny leaves. Our sanctuary’s begun to emerge again.

Soon we can sit on the porch swing and watch butterflies and hummingbirds feasting on blooms. Birds will bathe in the tricking pond again.

I can’t wait. Come on warm weather.