We came back from our vacation to a sharp drop in temperature. Our friends told us that while we were gone the temperature had gone up to the 60°F for a couple of days and mostly hovered above 50°F for the rest of that period. I can see the result of warm temperatures in our garden. Roses, hydrangeas, tree peonies started to bud. The silver maple in the front yard has blossomed. The crocuses and snowdrops are blooming.
Then two days after we came back, the temperature dropped again, combined with a high wind that resulted in a wind chill below 0°F. Last night the temperature was in a teens and today it is barely above freezing. It’s de ja vu of last spring. Plants started budding only to get frost burn. We didn’t have any hydrangeas last year for this reason and the first round of roses looked awful.
I don’t even know how the honeybees are. They’ve been so quiet, no sign of dead bees in front of the hives. We weren’t here when the temperature soared up to see if they were out cleansing. They’ve been too quiet for my liking and I have no way of checking on them. It’s either too cold or too windy to open the hives up for inspection. To be on the safe side, I have ordered one more package of bees to be delivered in May.
Though it will not be a promising spring, I still look forward to it. It’s time for me to start tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings and prep tropical plants in the basement for a warm and less seesaw temperature outside. In a little bit over a month the seedlings should be able to set their roots in the garden and tropical plants will enjoy real sunlight. And, hopefully, the hives will have survived another winter.
It’s been only three months when I last saw flowers in our garden but it seems a very long time ago. The longing get worse when I see flowers in other bloggers gardens that are still blooming or spring flowers that have already come up. Wishing that we lived in a warmer climate usually grips us at this time of year. But gardening and beekeeping in extreme weather is a fun challenge and keeps me on my toes. Good planning and timing is pretty crucial. I have never been obsessed with checking weather this much in my life. So many people I know wake up in the morning and check Facebook, Twitter, Email, even Snapchat, …I check the weather.
Finally, winter has released her grip in my neighborhood. It has been warmer most days now: above 30°F and some days above 50°F. Early spring plants are responding accordingly.
And, my longing turns to itchiness. Itching to get my hands in the dirt, get my arms scratched by the rose bushes, get bitten by insects, get natural vitamin D and end my day with aches and pain BUT happy and fulfilled.
After months of bone chilling cold and several feet of snow, Mother nature finally eased her grip. The temperature has been increasing slowly and the spring rain has arrived. It’s been raining on and off since yesterday, with intermittent drizzle. When it was just drizzling, I took the opportunity to walk around looking for both survivors and a new generation in the garden. The deer and rabbits have done a lot of damage this winter. I guess hunger made them try anything they can get their teeth on. Yew hedge, rhododendron, iris, hydrangea, clematis, and tree peony bore the signs of being munched on.
There are also new flowering plants that have pushed themselves above ground. Tulips, hyacinth and daffodils I rescued from the garbage bin have never failed to express their gratitude year after year. Not many tulips left though. The chipmunks managed to dig a lot of them up last year even after they had started to flower. Snowdrops have already bloomed. Grape Hyacinth and Dwarf iris will follow close behind.
A new cycle begins again. I can hardly wait for a dry sunny day when I can begin pruning roses, feeding the plants, cleaning up the garden in general, and putting new seeds in the ground.
The Alyssum ‘Basket of Gold’ (Aurinia saxatilis) is a perennial that produces bright yellow flowers. Butterflies and bees love them. This particular one was buried under a mound of snow this winter but it’s happy and perky again.
I will have to cage these tulips before the chipmunks find them. I have no idea what this one is but the pattern on the leaf is beautiful and the resulting flower will be so vibrant.
Waiting for spring to come seems like forever. I should have be used to it by now, roughly three months of cold, wet weather with snow on the ground or freezing rain before I can garden outside again. But, it’s never been that easy.
When plant and seed catalogs start to fill up my mailbox that’s when I start getting itchy. Seeing new plants I want to put in the garden and looking outside for good spots to put them makes me feel helpless. I want so much to be out weeding, pruning and digging in the garden, but it’s beyond my control. In years past, I would spend time down in the basement among the tropical plants, some of whom still flower in winter, as consolation.
With a beehive sitting out in the garden for the first time this year, I go outside more in winter. I schedule a check on the hive once a week to make sure they are fine: no dead bees blocking the entrance, no woodpecker holes, no raccoon or skunk break-in evidence. I would check on it more often than once a week if the weather were more erratic to make sure that no snow blocked either main or top entrances and nothing was blown off the hive. What can I say, they are part of our family now like the other wildlife in our garden. The ones that are willing to co-exist and share with others are welcome and we try to treat them all well. I’m not going to mention the ones that are not well behaved like the house sparrows, etc.
On my last trip out to check on the hive, I also saw other signs of life here and there. Green! I’m not talking about pine trees, yews (Taxus) and rhododendrons, but little greens that cling to the ground or on the trees. Snowdrops (Galanthus) have pushed their little tips above the melting snow. Ferns stay fresh, and lichen and mosses look crisp. We had single digit temperatures outside a couple of days ago, but there is no sign of frost burn or wilting on them now at all.
It’s a different kind of beauty, a different kind of toughness. One hundred million years of nature nurtured.
A sure sign that spring is coming is when the little Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) push themselves up above ground. Our Common Snowdrops have already blossomed with white delicate flowers like little lanterns shining spring light. Don’t let the delicate looking petals fool you, they are tougher than they look. I used to rush to look at them in the morning after a snow fall overnight or when the temperature was down to a little bit above 20 degrees to make sure that they survived. They always look happy and playful in the morning wind.
They are very easy to grow. You just put the bulbs in the ground in autumn, give them some good dirt and wait for spring to come. The deer won’t bother them.
I will have to do something about the Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) that appeared to crowd this little beauty a bit too closely last year. I think I will dig some of the lilies out to provide room for the Snowdrops. As much as I don’t like growing bulbs since they will disapper underground after spring blossoming, Snowdrops are one of the exceptions.
If you want to grow something that will push your late winter depression away; I give you Snowdrops. Their appearance is a confirmation that life goes round and round; after a dark and moody winter, there will be a bright spring.