Vernal Equinox - 2014

Winter's End Game


Indoor gardenWinter is not going out without a fight here in Rhode Island. The indoor garden is responding to higher light levels and a bit of fertilizer but outside there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground although there are patches of earth showing in the areas of southerly exposure. Southern exposure I read blogs from all over the country and there is wisteria blooming in CA, crocus blooming in Indiana and also in Tennessee. Here, I have one lonely and exposed bunch of snowdrops showing a stripe of white. SnowdropsThe snow is receding from the edges of the house and it is looking dirty and dismal. I want to shout 'Give it up'. Actually, I have muttered it many times as I have struggled to walk through the crusty yet giving depths of snow. There is no strolling through this snow mass. WaterholeGetting to the water hole in the back woods was an ordeal. Cooper had no issues with that but then his four legs travel easier in many places than my two . I was looking for signs of spring and it took a good search to find the dark hoods of the skunk cabbage at the water's edge. Skunk cabbageThe hooded spathe protects the emerging spadix flower of the skunk cabbage whose proper name, Symplocarpus foetidus, warns one of its foetid smell. The hoods are first visible in early March when the ground is still frozen, the nights are still frosty and the woods are still and flat with no other visible signs of life but the algae floating in the water of the woodland water hole. Skunk cabbage is a member of the Arum family and it has beautiful, lush green leaves later on in the season. The flowers emit a musky scent to attract pollinators and when crushed the leaves also emit an odor quite like that of a skunk. It is very early now and the hoods are tight and dark. They will be marked with streaks and stripes as they mature. I find them quite beautiful as well as intriguing. Skunk cabbage has an extensive, contractile root system which actually pulls them into the ground making it very difficult to dig them or move them around. They also are heat generating. Amazing! The signs of spring have arrived along with a new visitor. I have heard the song of the barred owl but last week this one graced us with a visit. Owl 90I am a bit concerned as they feed on small rodents. Cooper has had his nose to the snowy ground for quite a few weeks.He has a great nose and I know he can smell them. I fear that those rodents are feasting on the roots of my daylilies and hostas. As the snow recedes and the temperatures warm I hope to see signs of plant life. This owl is a welcome visitor. I hope he/she feasts well. What is a garden without inhabitants! Two legged, four legged and winged. Gardener, predator and prey. That is the circle of life.