Speedy spring: Not an
What we're doing out there now.
Incentive to go out.
In late January or early February every year we hear questions
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.
Groundhog Day is
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.
Get out there!
So we get out there in spring, even when it's cold.
Some of the things
we're doing outdoors now:
• Pruning back summer blooming shrubs and vines
(Buddleia/butterfly bush, dwarf spirea,
Potentilla shrubs, Russian sage/Perovskia,
snowball- and panicle Hydrangea, hybrid roses,
• 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
• 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
• 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
- 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!
Shelley Welch called on the mid-March morning we'd appointed
to meet and prune shrubs. She asked, "I'm just checking to be sure
you're still serious, because it is snowing and pretty cold..." A
little less than two hours later, with four overgrown shrubs
thinned and shaped, we were warm from the work and happy for the
results. Here she is with one of the four, a flowering