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March 2014

Vernal Equinox - 2014


Garden linesMy garden is a mirror of the vernal equinox. There are equal parts of light and dark in the garden. The snow line is visible in many areas. The southern exposures in the garden are dark and void of growing vegetation, for the most part. The northerly sites have up to six inches of snow still on them.  My hellebores are still buried and this mornings garden walk entailed skirting the snow line. The earth was hard and unyielding underfoot but there was bird song in the air and a definite feeling of spring. I missed Bloom Day this weekend but the blooms have started. First snowdropThe snowdrops are emerging. I move them around each year to increase the amount. Someday I do hope to have rivers and ponds of snowdrops. They are fragrant little things and while they look fragile they withstand the harshest of temperatures as well as snow, sleet, rain and wind. Crocus2A couple purple crocus are huddled against the cement foundation giving them a bit of warmth when the sun is out. They reward me with brilliant purple blooms. These are leftovers from the garden which was here prior to the gravel. The gravel was added to help solve some drainage issues. I have one other tiny, very tiny, spot of color in the garden. Winter aconiteThe yellow winter aconite is a very early bloomer if sited correctly. I am making notes to add more along the most southerly route of the garden. Again, the goal is pools and rivers of  sowed sunshine. Planting bulbs is hard work so making notes now will really help save time this fall as I walk around with hundreds of bulbs to tuck in the ground. I must slow down, it is just barely spring and I have fall planning and planting on my mind. These long winters are tough on northern gardeners. I would love to know what your very first spring bloom is in your own garden.    


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.