We are waiting and watching. Come on, spring!
First came the winter solstice. The next day we swore we could see that daylight lasted a minute later. We love the quietude of winter, when we bury ourselves in plant catalogues and plot garden changes, but we’re always anxious for longer days and signs of spring.
By January each day gains one and a half to two minutes of daylight. Now, in February, we enjoy about two and a half minutes more of daylight every day. No wonder energy is rising.
Sap is too. A friend’s silver maple is a telltale sign. She recently cautioned us not to park under it to avoid gooey droplets on our car. She’s also reported that cherry tree branches she brought inside for forcing are starting to show color.
Recently, we’ve had icy snow twice. By morning, temperatures rose. Bright sunlight accelerated the melting. Snow plopped from evergreen boughs. Roads quickly turned to blacktop. Afternoon temperatures jumped to the fifties, and most of the snow disappeared. Daffodil shoots seemed to stand a little taller, but no color yet. Buds on our snowdrops cracked opened; the first blooms in our garden are white. Can we say it’s early spring?
It’s almost time to prune the rose canes. In Zone 7 the last week in February is when we do it. We’ll keep the leaves on garden beds a little longer, but we’ve ordered the compost. Several years ago we gave up on hardwood mulch; it didn’t enrich the soil. Now we spread yards of “humusy” compost in early March. That’s when excitement really builds; our gardeners’ hearts beat faster.
Likely, we have not seen the last snowfall. We’ve had 10 inches and more this time of year and later. Often, it’s that heavy, wet snow, which breaks boxwood and evergreen limbs.
Nuthatches, juncos, blue jays and cardinals still cover our feeders. They are our winter color, some say the flowers of winter. A flock of robins filled the lawn today. We’re in the yo-yo time: winter-spring, spring-winter.
The foliage of winter aconite has emerged in the woodland. More light and warmth draw plants from the earth. Soon their butter-yellow blooms will spill downhill along the fence. Lavender crocus and blue Chionodoxa will pop open. Winter will melt away.
When the pale yellow tête-à-tête daffodils by the sunroom open, the waiting will officially end. A different kind of watching will start, with the awe of fireworks-gazing as the color show begins.