On Sunday, I saw that we hopefully had three days (and nights) above freezing on the way, so I got busy and planted some native wildflowers in the shady part of the garden this weekend. (I found them at Lowes, of all places! Good on ya, Lowes.) The trillium, trout lily, and jack-in-the-pulpit are now well watered and safely ensconced beneath 3-4 inches of dirt & leaf mold, and I added a bleeding heart nearby (because the cats tend to frolic in and out of the daylilies around the other one, which usually shortens its blooming season/survival, as the stems are too soft to withstand two cats playing an energetic game of hide-and-pounce).

Attentive gardeners among you will wonder why daylilies (who love sun) and bleeding heart (which prefers shade) are doing in the same bed. The answer is the daylilies were there long before I arrived on the scene. I only discovered that they might be better suited to a south-facing bed recently, so I’ll likely divide them and move half elsewhere when the temps are consistently above freezing. They do bloom beautifully where they already are, albeit a little late.

It’s always curious what you find when you’re clearing neglected corners of a garden or digging someplace for the first time. I found an old, broken birdhouse (painted in gaudy colors like a gypsy caravan by one of my kids many years ago) under leaves in the middle of the hedge, the head of an old claw hammer under years of deadfall and leaf mulch, and a round metal object under several of inches of dirt and pine needles. I think it may have been an ornamental garden sunburst at some point. If so, this would be the first sign of garden whimsy we’ve found from the original owners who built the house in the 1920s.

Being immersed in a novel-in-progress about the Celts, I imagined just for a moment that this might be an ancient Celtic shield I was pulling from the earth, buried since falling from the hand of some slain warrior. The “claw hammer” I found nearby might be an insignificant cousin to a mighty war hammer, but now my shady corner of a North Carolina mountainside feels symbolically linked to the central European hillsides and Irish glens of 2000 years ago. The sun and the seasons were very important to Celtic spiritual life, and perhaps only gardeners and farmers can still appreciate just how vital and worthy of worship the sun is. So, of all the things I could have dug up in my garden, I think a metal sunburst/shield is one of the most symbolic/appropriate for at least two of my consuming interests.