Spiking temperatures in the heat of the sun are making us sweat and bitter winds give us the chills. Add to that the frenetic frantics of “gotta get the gardens cleaned out NOW!” coupled with a lethargy bordering on catatonia that sets in after a day spent out: it feels for all the world like a fever. I’d say we haven’t acclimated to the season yet except that the season itself hasn’t settled out. Compared to this time last year when we had record floods and warmth, this March – perhaps compared to any recent years has been dry – the ground is actually cracked in places – and cold. We have an April Fool’s snow in the forecast and we’re all beginning to speculate that one of these days maybe we’ll pass straight from winter into summer.
But regardless of the vagaries of March (and April) weather, plants and wildlife are as feverish for spring as we are. Despite the cold winds and the little hints of snow and even the lack of real rain everything is emerging right according to plan – perhaps not 2 weeks early this year like it was last year, but inch by inch, on schedule. A good thing too because regardless of the weather, at a certain point we gardeners can’t restrain ourselves any longer from cleaning winter out of the gardens. Here at Blithewold we have the added incentive of getting everything tidy before Daffodil Days, which start a mere week and a half from now on April 9th (and run through May 1st.)
Gail, a couple of the Deadheads, and I cut back the North Garden yesterday and we know the timing is right because tiny kitten Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle) are waking beneath the scrunk of last year’s leaves, caryopteris and perovskia buds are swollen and as usual, the ‘Ballerina’ roses have even begun to break – sooner than any other roses on the property. Bees are out working the scilla (do you have any early flowers for the bees?), and Gail and I were only willing to call it quits after encountering the largest spider this side of the tropics in one of our tub-trugs. Today the Rockettes cleaned up the Rock Garden where Pasque flowers were showing fuzz, tight whorls of corydalis foliage are loosening, and we all were on the lookout for hidden gems (hellebore flowers hiding in the old epimedium leaves) and camouflaged creatures. It was a real eye-test to spot the nest inside the spirea. (Needless to say, that particular shrub didn’t get much of a haircut. – Anyone know if the nest would be this year’s or last year’s?)
Are you feeling feverish too?