May, the Magnificent

Of all the warm-weather months, May is to me the most beautiful here in our little pocket of Northern Virginia. For our family, it’s the month of roses. All around our back courtyard, they burst into glorious bloom.

The profusion of flowers and foliage appears all the more fabulous to us, because we remember too well the area when it looked strikingly different.

Our “back yard,” before, c. 2005.

Twenty-four years ago, when we bought our house, there was no real back yard, only an expanse of concrete leading to an ugly garage. In the spring of 2009, after years of idle talk and months of actual planning, we embarked on a major renovation, which included landscaping, a flagstone patio, a wrought iron fence, and a screened porch. (See Up from the Concrete, Roses, May 2021.) With every year that passes, we enjoy our back yard refuge even more.

May is the most fragrant month here, as well. Throughout our neighborhood, there are patches of undeveloped land, property of Fairfax County, which remain pleasantly unkempt. In May, these spots teem with wild roses and honeysuckle. All year long, they offer sanctuary and shelter to wildlife. I’m grateful to live in a place where every last bit of acreage is not overly manicured.

Peonies add their perfume to the rose-scented atmosphere of May.

A new addition to my mother’s back yard is a Teddy Bear Southern Magnolia, which we planted in November. As its cuddly name suggests, it’s a smaller variety. Its creamy white blossoms should be sending forth their luxuriant fragrance well into June.

This May has been marked by dramatic, sudden shifts from clear blue skies to fierce storms, and right back again, just as quickly. On Mother’s Day, after a heavy downpour, we were gifted with a lovely double rainbow.

As spring turns to summer, as May cedes the ground to June, may you push through all your cloudbursts to find the rainbows!

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