But, not all is despair outside. Here and there a spot of color has broken through the soil. On February 25th the very first snowdrops (Galanthus) were spotted and they lifted my spirit.
A few days later purple crocuses combined with blue Dutch iris provided an eye-popping accent in an otherwise colorless garden.
All this was followed by a variety of Hellebores which opened in soft pinks, reds, and white.
All of the willows received their annual haircuts, or as it is called in proper gardening terms, they were pollarded. The process of cutting back all of the branches close to the trunk of the tree was made easier with my new ratcheting loppers. Now a huge pile of branches is waiting to be stripped of smaller side branches. The tall branches will be used for support for pole beans and peas in the veggie garden. I tried chopping up the small side branches in the shredder/chopper once, but the pliable branches wound themselves around the blades instead of being cut. Now, I cut them in small sections and put these into the trash as I have not yet come up with a better solution (short of start weaving baskets).
All of the koi, those wet pets in the pond, have come through the winter without any problems. A pump kept a hole open in the ice and provided the fish with oxygen. Now, the pump is no longer needed and the waterfall has been turned on again instead.
Slowly but surely nature is starting to show its promise, with glorious colors not far away.