March ado

Seed trays in the propagation house

Sweet peas!I’m not even going to bother go in search for spring outside today because it looks and feels too much like winter again. Blustery. Bitter cold. Snowy, even (though nothing compared to other parts of the country, so I’ll quit my complaining). The tug of war between winter and spring is still fierce — we’re all getting whiplash to varying degrees (how bad’s yours?) — but I know winter’s muscles are weakening because the signs of spring are getting easier to spot — at least they were before today. I was lucky to get a big eyeful of spring (on another snowy day) last week at the Philadelphia Flower Show. (Click here if you’re curious to see some of my terrible pictures of the fabulous extravaganza.) Meanwhile, Dan hasn’t been the only one to start seeds in the greenhouse. Some of the garden volunteers have been back in to sow an early array for the cutting and herb garden too. Snapdragons, scabiosa, cerinthe, and the sweet peas are already up and at ‘em. We did dill, parsley, cilantro, Swiss chard, kale, cabbages, and lettuces yesterday — we’ll be growing a gorgeous salad mix in the herb garden this year… And with the sun heating the greenhouse well into the 70s now, everything is beginning to put on fresh spring growth too so we’ve been making the rounds of stock plants and our fall cuttings, pruning them back to low leaf sets and, in some cases, taking fresh cuttings along the way.

Before and after hibiscus pruning

Outside, early signs of spring were on view this past Tuesday. –It was 40 degrees warmer then than it is right this minute. Those adorable little wild-looking crocus (Crocus tommasinianus) were open on the Great Lawn, inspiring me to take my annual belly shot. Even the bees were out and about that day, making the witch hazel hum. And I was excited to see that the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is up. High time for winter to step aside.

Crocus under the Osage orangeHoneybees working the witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane')Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Gail and I are beginning to be quizzed about when the daffodils will be at their peak, just as we are every springter. It’s still too soon to tell but if we had to guess (and we do) we’d say they’ll probably peak right on time for the middle of April and school vacation week. Getting through March is the trick. But with any luck, after this round of wintery bluster and bother, spring will start to put some real weight into the fight.

Are you seeing any signs of spring yet indoors or out? Is your garden buried under snow still/again?

2 thoughts on “March ado

  1. Halfway through March,boggling between boredom and frustration,I like to take out my John Boroughs essays,particularly,”The Snow Walkers” and reread this encouraging passage, some lines of which I’d like to share. Please, take a quiet moment to visualize in your minds eye.
    “He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…..Look up at the miracle of the falling snow!….exquisite crystals dropping in ditch and gutter….the old dilapidated fence is suddenly set off with the most fantastic ruffles, scalloped and fluted….A severe artist, no longer the canvas and pigments, but the marble and chisel……

    But, with March…. vague rumors of a great and coming change. We are all eager for Winter to be gone, since he too, is fugitive and cannot keep his place. Invisible hands deface his icy statuary; his chisel has lost its cunning.The drifts,so pure and exquisite, are now earth-stained and weather-worn- the flutes and scallops and fine, firm lines, all gone. Like worn and unwashed linen appear the the remains of that spotless robe with which he clothed the world as his bride.
    But, he will not abdicate without a struggle. Day after day he rallies his scattered forces, and night after night pitches his white tents on the hills, and would fain regain his lost ground; but the young prince in every encounter prevails. Slowly and reluctantly, the gray old hero retreats up the mountain, til finally the south rain comes in earnest, and in a night he is dead”

    Beautiful. Jean, thanks so much for sharing that. -kris

  2. Well, we were just starting to see signs of spring in North Carolina and then . . . another ice storm. Of course, after reading about the ice storms in Slovenia (awesome but frightening), I have no right to complain. Now we just pray that the temperature rises, the ice melts, and our southern flowering anything will survive. Jean, thank you for sharing the beautiful words of John Burroughs’ “The Snow Walkers.” I, however, will add “hope springs eternal . . .”:-)

    Gypsy, complain away — we’re all entitled. It has been a tough season, no doubt about it. And then enjoy the transition as it happens. (It will happen!) Keep us posted on survivors… -kris

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