Next week is March, which means it will only be a matter of weeks until spring. At least, that’s what the calendar says. It does feel like an early spring. The bird songs have changed. The sleepy skunks are digging up my yard and wandering out into the road to get hit by cars. The squirrels are frantic for food. The Eastern gray squirrel mates in late winter (and again in summer), and the moms-to-be are hungry. These are good signs of spring.
The not so good signs are the tiny leaves on my flowering quince. I’m not sure they are up to the possibility of an arctic blast or (I hate to even think it) a late season snowstorm.
My daffodils popped up last December, along with the flowers on my hellebores. This was the first time my Lenten roses bloomed for Christmas. At last check, the daffs are holding their own. They’re about 2-3 inches high and biding their time, looking no worse for the early start. And the snowdrops are only days away from flowering, but they don’t care if we have an ice storm, let alone snow. Oh, to be that hardy.
I looked at some February photos from prior years. It’s a mixed bag. I remember 2012 being low-snow February, but I don’t remember so many mild days. I could be over appreciating this year because we’ve been treated to so much sunshine lately. I’ve missed sun even more than heat. I haven’t had the heart to look at March photos. I don’t want to see the 3 ft. paths in snow that tunnel through my yard to the bird feeders. I consolidated the feeders this year.
With temperatures flitting about in the 50s, it took a lot of self-control not to prune and cut down everything. I don’t know that the birds are done with the perennial seeds and berries, so just in case it does snow again, I’ll wait. I’ve done some safe pruning of dormant trees, like my apples, but I’m hesitant to touch most of the shrubs. I don’t want more dieback.
One chore I’m looking forward to is moving some potted divisions out of the vegetable garden. I potted them up in the fall of 2014. I stored them in some vacant real estate behind the vegetable beds. I didn’t have a chance to get to them in the spring and when I finally was ready to move them in early summer, ground bees had set up house in the bottoms of several pots. I did not find this out until I lifted 2 and dragged them outside the fence. Suddenly I was being swarmed. I only got 1 sting – that time. When I went back a few weeks later, to finish moving those 2 pots, there was an even larger hive. This time I got 3 stings for my stupidity. But I learned my lesson. Sting me once, shame on you. Sting me twice, shame on me.
I thought I’d get a head start and move the remaining pots out of the vegetable garden now, but they are still firmly frozen to the ground. Generally I recommend lifting your containers off the ground for winter, so water can drain out of them even if the ground underneath remains solid as a brick. But there was no way I was going in there a third time. I’m not that clueless. We’ll have to wait and see how they did.
For the most part, I am satisfying my gardening urges by starting seeds indoors and out. The onions and hot peppers take forever in my cool basement, so I start them in February, along with some artichokes I want to move outdoors while it’s still cold. If they get a few weeks of cold weather, they think they’ve been through winter and are ready to bloom their first year. I always hedge my bets and start about a dozen plants, even though I only have room for 2. Thank God for plant swaps.
I put some blue columbine seeds outdoors to get a chill before germinating. I suppose I could have sown them in place, but right now I don’t know where that place will be.
One last spring sighting; the moss is a beautiful neon green. There was certainly no shortage of precipitation this month. But my basement stayed dry, as I hope yours did and will continue to be. Funny the things that mark the seasons.