Speedy spring: Not an illusion.
What we're doing out there now.
Incentive to go out.
In late January or early February every year we hear questions like this:
Are the trees starting to bud or am I imagining things? And, no, I haven't been drinking when I noticed this.
No wonder. The progression from winter to spring is not strictly linear. The closer we come to that first day of spring, the greater the change in sunlight -- daylight hours make a bigger daily jump and sunlight's angle changes so each square foot of Earth receives more intense radiation.
It's a nod to the first significant turn toward the light. It's when the hardiest plant resume growth so buds swell and twigs show brighter color. Groundhogs, raccoons, skunks and birds begin to move around more. Even inside the house, plants begin to wake and push some new growth.
Buds do swell and twigs color up as days begin to lengthen in late winter. For week, plants gather that energy. By the equinox, the green world is pumped full of moisture and ready to leap at the first warm day.
There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming, summer.
- Gertrude Jekyll -
First an artist, Jekyll turned
to garden design as her sight failed.
We who use Jekyll's ideas owe a debt
to the extra-sensory allure of spring.
- Thanks to Carol Mousigian
for calling this quote to the fore. -
Each spring day is precious. Wait for only the warm late spring days and you can't possibly do all that needs doing and must trample eager new shoots in the doing.
So we get out there in spring, even when it's cold.
• Pruning back summer blooming shrubs and vines (Buddleia/butterfly bush, dwarf spirea, Potentilla shrubs, Russian sage/Perovskia, snowball- and panicle Hydrangea, hybrid roses, Clematis).
• Shaping young trees.
• Reining in woody plants that grow so fast they need two clips a year (Wisteria and quince are high on the list).
• Cutting ornamental grasses down as close to ground as we can.
• Fertilizing perennial and groundcover/shrub/tree areas with slow release organic materials.
• Transplanting (first priority: evergreens we didn't move in fall in case reduced roots might not keep them moist through winter).
• Picking up trash and dog droppings.
• Enlarging the no-lawn areas around growing trees.
Bless that good ol' Equinox -- the plants have come to life again. It's so nice to watch them all turning toward the sun at their summertime rate (rather than their slow weak winter wobblings) -- a reminder that we're all stretching for the light again.
- Sonja Nikkila -
You hesitate. We know! Don't feel alone in battling winter inertia. Even after 30 years in the field we must talk ourselves into going out on the iffy days. Once out there, you'll warm up with moving, have fun and be so productive. As a bonus, there are "Guess what I did?!" stories to tell!