Spring is a two steps forward and one step back affair. Bike commuting last week I wore shorts—in March!—on the way home one day, then two days of riding in the rain followed by two days of moderately layered. The rain was refreshing and cleansing and caused me to start remembering all the spots on my commute where water pools up. I got a little wet, but I do not have to shovel rain so silver linings. Plus we turned over our rain barrels in the garden and they both are now pretty much full. We have a third rain barrel on order from the city but won’t get to pick that up until the end of April.
Tomorrow’s forecast suggests 70F is possible, only to be followed by two days in the 30s. But then 60s after that. Stutter stepping into spring.
The trees are not wasting any time. Silver Maple is blooming and I noticed for the first time that squirrels like to snack on the flowers. Why did it take me so long to notice they did this? They clearly know to not eat all the flowers because that will mean no seeds, which they also like to eat, as do I. But there is no harm in snacking on a few flowers.
Witch Hazel is also blooming. Ki began life blooming in late fall like all the other witch hazels do, but at some point fall blooming became spring blooming. Ki holds onto autumn’s dry leaves throughout the winter so the pretty little yellowy spidery flowers get lost. But this time of year is also the windiest and Wind helps Witch Hazel let go of the old leaves and in the process the flowers become more visible.
Hazelnut is also blooming. Ki is covered profusely this year with catkins. Hazelnuts have male and female flowers on the same tree. The catkins are the male flowers and produce pollen that then drifts into the tiny female flowers that look more like red-tipped buds than actual flowers. Every year at this time I am hopeful that maybe, just maybe, I will beat the squirrels to the nuts at the end of August. It is has not happened yet, but hope springs eternal as the saying goes. I have not seen Hazelnut with so many male flowers before, so I hope that is a good sign.
Since the snow is gone and the time has changed making it lighter in the evenings for longer, the Dashwoods are able to enjoy plenty of time roaming the garden, scratching in the dirt, and eating bugs and seeds. When I get home from work I let them out of the run and giggle at how excited they are, running up the steps from the chicken garden into the main garden. Yesterday it rained and they were stuck in the covered run all day. But today, they have been out since sunrise. There is nothing planted or growing yet that they can eat or otherwise destroy, so I am happy for them to turn the soil and make fertilizer deposits for another three weeks before they are banished to the chicken garden for the growing season.
The seeds I started indoors are doing ok. They sprang up so fast and then I unplugged the warming mat and hung a grow light over them and they have slowed their growth and made me worried about them not being far enough along. Clearly my house is not encouragingly warm. I plugged the warming mat back in last week and I hope they are encouraged to start growing again.
The big plant sale James and I like to attend will be held this year in a pandemic appropriate way. We really missed it last year. I have been busy first making a giant list of all the plants I wish I could have, and currently I am narrowing it down to what is truly reasonable. There are now two varieties of peaches that are reliably hardy and I was hoping to bring one home, but there is much work involved in making a place for it—moving a 15-year-old climbing rose and doing some fence repair—that, coupled with a bunch of other more urgent things we need to do, seemed like too much. No peach tree this year then, but fingers crossed for next year!
I am thinking about getting another grape, this one to be planted at the foot of Walter the crabapple who will then serve as a trellis. I am also considering another red currant. The one I have is beautiful and prolific and I love red currant jam, not only for its tang but also because it is so gosh darn gorgeous to look at. Can one have too much red currant jam?
The remainder of my list is herbs and native perennials. I don’t have a place for all the perennials on the list and they are the ones making the winnowing most difficult. I have until May 7th to figure it out. Plenty of time to agonize, decide, change my mind, and then change my mind again. Ha!