I'm not a gardener.  But I aspire to be one.

Last Fall, under the rationalization that it would protect the plants underneath from the winter snow, I didn't rake up the dead leaves that fell on the flowerbeds, only the grass and sidewalk.  

A few unexpected flowers have popped up here and there in the Spring warmth, but for the most part my backyard still looks pretty barren.  This weekend it suddenly occurred to me that all that dark debris still sitting there might actually be preventing spring shoots from making it up to the surface.  So the first chance I got, which was this afternoon, I raked up the leaves from last Fall.

Lo and behold, tender pink peony shoots, so delicate looking.  I thought for sure they'd died of thirst last summer.

Elsewhere, more shoots.  These green.  I have no idea what they are but am eager to find out.

After breaking a leaf and sniffing, I discover that the tiny leaves where the peppermint used to be aren't weeds after all.

Even some of the Greek Oregano and French tarragon seem to have survived - by a sprig - both the winter and the even more brutal workmen.

And my chrysanthemums from too late last fall... some of them don't seem to have made it, but a few have green leaves popping up at their bases.

Amazing what a good exfoliation can uncover.

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