From the first of this month till today, we have gone from balmy, 60 degree temperatures to stormy, highly windy to, extremely cold and dry and now back to spring like conditions. That is in the span of exactly one week. Craayzeeee!
The snowdrops are practically done for. They shone all too briefly. There must be utter confusion underground. I imagine the assorted bulbs talking all at once in a state of panic trying to decide if it’s time to get going yet. The snowdrops are probably saying – “It’s madness up there guys! I wouldn’t risk it just yet.” And I’ll bet the scillas are hesitantly wondering if they ought to listen or just take their chances. No doubt the hyacinths are flexing their muscles and scornful of their more delicate cousin. Meanwhile, the irises are shrugging their corms and listening to the ensuing chaos happy in the knowledge that they do not need to decide anything this early. They get to snooze a few weeks longer.
I’m kind of glad I am a bit behind schedule in trimming back the old foliage on the hellebores. The emerging flowers ought have enjoyed the protection this past weekend. I intend to remove those leaves tomorrow.
Typically, at this time of year, I’m already looking into acquiring pansies and primroses to set the stage for spring. The spring window-boxes are put up a week before the vernal Equinox. Perhaps that will happen this weekend. It really is time to start on the spring clean up and schedule plantings and sowing.
After the barely-there winter, the feeling of spring is almost anti-climactic. There is none of the usual dramatic shift from frigid and bare to pleasant and green. It’s as though spring has been creeping in slowly for a while and appears to have made some sort of cohabitation deal with winter. I personally find this frustrating. Are we done with winter or not? Is she going to drag her feet? I’d like to know one way or other. I have plenty of work to do but the weather doesn’t seem to care one whit about that. It is clearly having a blast tormenting gardeners all around.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m starting with the hellebores. Then, I shall begin cleaning up in earnest. Next, set up the window-boxes. This should clearly be a declaration that this garden is spring-ready. And by that time, we ought to know if winter is finally letting go of her hold on us.
In these unpredictable, unsettling times, I really need to get started in the garden – my sanity depends on it.
I hope you enjoy my watercolor rendition and poem below:
Diminutive cousin of Amaryllis
emerging from Eurasian roots
Harking back to Winter’s white
Alluding to Springs chartreuse.
Visiting just long enough
to reassure seasons change
Never overstaying her welcome
Her departure prearranged.
Sweet bells hang low
So ants can hear them ring
calling to come feast
Depart with seeds to fling
Homer’s magical herb moly
disarms all human hearts
When small can be mighty
and staying humble is an art.
– Shobha Vanchiswar