When I planted ranunculus in the back garden bed, it was the fulfillment of a long-held dream. Those frilly petals! The glorious colors! Those feathery leaves! It never occurred that they would die off rather quickly and thus put an end to my adoration.
Until this spring, that is. Suddenly whorls of those feathered leaves appeared out of the mulch. Tightly gathered buds emerged in all the colors I remembered so well. And slowly, slowly, they are unwinding, turning their crenellated faces up to the sun.

There are other surprises as well. I bought a bag of tiny bulbs at Costco last fall, then forgot all about them. At the tail end of the planting season, seized by gardener’s remorse, I flung them into the ground by the handful. They looked a bit shrivelled up after sitting out on the back stoop for several weeks, and I had little hope that they’d actually survive the winter. Oh, me of little faith. For there they are, and I can’t even remember their name – only that they are native to Africa but perform well in our semi-arid climate as well.

But the piece de resistance is the bleeding heart that comes back year after year. It reminds me of spring on the east coast, where they were often among the first plants to surface at winter’s end. Their delicacy and charm never fails to arouse in me a bittersweet feeling; I still miss the seasonal changes back east even after nearly nine years in the Bay area. I’m grateful that they bloom here, too.

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