On April 8, 2020

Looking Forward: Spring green reminds us of the new life that awaits just underground

By Mary Ellen Shaw

We all need something to look forward to, especially as we navigate our way through the changes in our lives because of the coronavirus. The constant mention of it on TV and in the papers can be overwhelming at times. Mother Nature to the rescue!  She will soon provide us with a wonderful palette of colors that are sure to cheer us up.

It’s best to “step away” from the media for awhile and focus on something that brings us pleasure. For me it’s enjoying nature, gardens and the many beautiful trees that are in our neighborhoods and our forests.

The white snow of winter is gradually being replaced by spring’s green grass. Bulbs that were planted last fall have experienced the cold weather that is needed to produce beautiful flowers. If they can be resilient enough to burst through the cold ground it’s a reminder that we can be resilient, too.

I walk around my garden areas on a daily basis checking to see what has popped up that wasn’t there the day before. The first flowers to greet me are always snowdrops. I admire their tenacity to break through before anything else.

A fairly new flower to my garden is the Katharine Hodgkin dwarf iris. Mine are pale blue with a speckled yellow center. They were in bloom this year by the first full day of spring – March 20. Perfect timing on their part and a wonderful surprise for me! They also come in a deep purple shade.

Crocuses appear about this same time if the squirrels didn’t eat them first. There are various ways to lessen the odds, such as chicken wire, bulb cages etc. but if you plant enough bulbs the squirrels might “share” some with you!

By far the most popular spring flowers are: daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Keep in mind that your enjoyment of both daffodils and tulips can be extended by planting early, mid and late varieties. You can’t ask for more brilliant colors than these three flowers will give you. Hyacinths have a wonderful fragrance that truly tells you spring is here!

If you want to create your own “flower fix” and didn’t plant bulbs, choose some pansies from your local garden centers. They are great to put in containers, window boxes or in the ground. I like to mix purple, yellow and blue pansies. If you place the darker colors in the back they will highlight the paler colors. I have filled our window box with pansies as early as mid-April. However, that means covering them on the frosty nights. It’s worth the effort for this “flower lover”!

Summer will be here soon and that short season is a busy time for us. You will wonder how fall crept up on you so quickly. So why not do some planning now? Then you will know exactly what to buy later on. There are numerous educational websites to give you ideas. One of my favorites is “Fall Planting for Spring Flowers” by Dr. Leonard Perry, University of Vermont Extension Department.

Now that socialization is virtually nonexistent it’s the ideal time to take a piece of paper and sketch a garden area. Nothing fancy required! You will be the only one seeing it. This helps in planning a new garden or deciding where to add plants to an existing garden. A sketch will also help you decide on the placement of your fall bulbs.

Local garden centers always have wonderful choices or make something unique.

The cleanup of lawns and gardens that are occurring in my neighborhood at the moment tells me that our properties will look great this year. Right now outside work takes our minds off the world as it currently is. By fall we will be ready for a rest! Stay well.

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