March can be a cruel month. There are three weeks to go before it officially becomes spring, so technically winter should be disappearing soon in our rear-view mirror. The clock "sprung forward" giving us an extra hour of light in the evenings. Less than two weeks from spring we managed to dodge another bullet weather wise. A winter storm was supposed to bring over a foot of snow, but our area just got a few inches of very wet and sloppy snow. It took less than an hour to clear the driveway, walkway and sidewalks while The Spouse helped a neighbor across the street with his driveway. So far, the temperatures remain in the high twenties during the night and mid-thirties to low forties during the day. Spring weather seems a long way off.
Meanwhile the basement is filling up with plants, seed packages, bulbs, roots and more cuttings. When the first catalogs arrived, I held off for a while, but eventually gave in and started ordering. The orders have not yet arrived, but my garden will be so much more colorful then last year. I will bulk up the meager beds all over the garden and add a few colors I haven't used in the past; reds and oranges.
While my first garden was a tranquil vision with pinks, purples and blues, this year I am adding "in your face" colors. I got inspired last year with my hedging of Tithonia or Mexican sunflowers which bloom in bold orange. In my old garden I also grew these annuals, but as they were mostly shaded they never performed as well as they could. Last spring, I planted seeds near the fence in full sun, in the butterfly garden and watched them take off into six-foot giants festooned with flowers. The butterflies loved them and so did I. This spring I will add a couple of rose bushes near them which will flower with blooms as bright and as orange as the Tithonia. After nearly two decades with soft pastel colors I want to go for bold in this butterfly garden and make it zing.
As I make the rounds in the garden I see and hear the signs of spring. The birds are singing and I have spotted the first American robins (so different from the European robins!), both a sure sign of spring. Outside I can see buds growing fatter and fatter on my (unknown variety of) Spirea. It seems a few warmer days and these shrubs will explode with foliage and maybe early flowers.
The Hellebores are also eagerly waiting for some sunshine. The buds and half open flowers are there but they need a bit more warmth to elongate their stems and open their flowers.
I know spring is not that far off but winter won't release its grip on us yet. I am sure there will be a few more snowflakes in our future; another Nor-Easter forecasted for next week! Slowly, seemingly very slowly this time, spring will arrive and soon I will be digging in the dirt again.
PS: March 17th. On a sunny and slightly windy day I walk around the garden to see what, if any, progress my plants are making. The snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) which look like snowbells on steroids are starting to come up and they give me hope there will be flowers in my near future. Then, a pale blue flower catches my attention! On the slope of the waterfall, facing south, three Iris reticulata variety ‘Katharine Hodgkin” have opened and the foliage of about 18 more of these bulbs is sticking up, waiting for a few nice days to open up and strut their stuff. Hurray, flower power has arrived!