Spring: Is It Ever Gonna Get Here?

| 5/4/2011 12:16:55 PM

Tags: Spring, American Spicebush, Mayapples, Violets, Norway Maple, Marsh Marigolds, Common Mullein, Cindy Murphy,

CindyMurphyBlog.jpgGRIT  blogs have been alive with spring posts lately.  Stories of inspiration, poems, beautiful photos of beautiful plants, and lots of springtime projects.  It is spring, after-all! 

But to tell the truth, I haven’t been in much of a springtime mood.  I’ve never been an aficionado of spring, particularly early in the season.  Why is it twenty degrees and two feet of snow in December always feels warmer than forty degrees and rain in April?  It just takes me a while to warm up to spring … and this year, spring has taken its sweet old time coming.  Day after day of nonstop rain, and temperatures in the 30s and 40s prolonged my agony.  I knew things were happening out there – buds on the trees beginning to swell, the grass changing from tan to green, and perennials springing back to life – but I couldn’t bring myself to get out in the yard.  After coming home from work at the nursery cold, wet, and dirty, the last thing I wanted to do was remain cold, wet, and dirty working in my own gardens. 


The chionadoxa, one of the earliest bulbs to bloom, was in full swing mid-April.  ‘Glory of the Snow,’ it’s called, and it seemed aptly named this year.  Soon after I noticed it flowering, I woke up one morning to this:  

MidApril Snow 

Though it melted quickly, it seemed spring would never arrive.  A few days later, driving down a country road, I saw a most welcomed sight after all this wintry weather.  In a spectacular display designed by Mother Nature, the entire understory of a swampy woods was lit by lemon-yellow flowers of American Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).  Beneath them, the ground was covered with darker yellow marsh marigolds.  There is nothing like nature to give inspiration.  The scene made me feel compelled to dive into working in the yard again … a nice batch of marsh marigolds had just arrived at the nursery, some of which I was sure would look lovely at home.  In the least, nature’s display prompted me to get out and see what’s going on in my gardens.    

8/30/2011 3:18:14 AM

Our spring (& Summer) were also s-l-o-w on the uptake! Now it's been HOT ... & I'm working on fall plantings. That book sounds delightful! My mom always battled Mullein on the E side of the Oregon Cascades, & as a kid she had me pulling them or what she called "milkweed" (salsify - Tragopogon). Then along came my botanist (now X) hubby, telling us that BOTH those were 'really' herbs! & quite desirable! She said we were welcome to all we wanted! On that side of the mtns the species is yellow flowered. A Forest Service piece says: "According to a review by Clements and others, yellow salsify was introduced to North America as a garden plant in the early 1900s. Spread was likely from east to west, as this is was the pattern in the Pacific Northwest." I collected seed this year from a purple Salsify a few blocks from here, & also have a packet of seed ... little 'dandelion' fluffs. One of my NW garden books suggests a planting of carrots & salsify after garlic - so that's what I planted today. I have a lovely mullein from an herbalist friend (Greek? It's a variety that branches) & let several plants grow each year. I've been able to transplant some to the perimeters of my back yard, & one's in a pot in front. Stately.

cindy murphy
5/19/2011 4:52:00 AM

Thanks, Shannon and Stepper. Stepper, I never have tapped the maples, though I've often thought it'd be fun. A couple of nature centers here have sugaring days, and we've always meant to go, but something always seems to come up. It's one of those "maybe some day" things, but not high on the list of "must dos"....probably because neither Keith nor I like syrup.

chris davis
5/17/2011 6:37:42 PM

Wonderful pictures Cindy! You mentioned sugar maples - did you ever tap them for syrup? Alas, it's been a dry spring here. Only the weeds are growing well this year.

s.m.r. saia
5/13/2011 2:16:20 PM

What a beautiful photo tour!

cindy murphy
5/11/2011 9:40:28 PM

Hi, Dave. Wow, it sounds as if you are fighting quite the battle there in your yard. I can't picture the vine with pods of fluff; sounds sort of like it might be Virgin's Bower or its relative, Sweet Autumn Clematis. Tiny, white flowers in fall? I've got wild strawberries in the lawn too - like the violets (and creeping Jenny, clover, and ground ivy), I don't mind them there at all. Lots less work than turf, and more environmentally friendly too, (luckily I have plenty of like-minded neighbors who aren't into golf course lawns, so a dandelion seed or two blowing in from around the neighborhood doesn't cause a frenzy of chemical use). I am doing battle with one hideous weed, though, that is definitely not welcome. Actually, it's war. This thing is so hideous, and so tenacious there is no known effective control of it - either mechanical, chemical, or organic. More on that later, though - I've got a trick or two up my sleeve. It seems we skipped spring altogether almost - last week was winter jackets, this week it's shorts and flip-flops. I'm with you - "what's up with that?"

nebraska dave
5/11/2011 7:42:28 PM

Cindy, I might add one more hard to control plant that seemed like a nice thing to cultivate and that was wild strawberries. I had a terrible time trying to get those things under control when I thought some stray strawberries had taken root in my yard. I tried to raise the things in a raised bed thinking they were regular strawberries. Imagine my surprise when they jumped out of the bed and started eyeing the house. What a mistake that was. Ah, yeah, I did something similar to the wild African violets too. I'm still fighting the good fight rid my side yard of those lovely plants. I'm not sure what the plant in the other side yard is as it will vine up and cover up the whole side yard then produce big pods that burst open and have fluffy white stuff like cottonwood fluff in them. One pod will seed the yard for about a hundred years I think. Don't get me started on the wild mulberry trees that sprout up along the chain link fence every year because birds love the berries and then relieve themselves while sitting on the fence. I think the bird poo just fertilizes the seeds that apparently don't digest as they go through the bird. Then as you have stated the nice maple seedlings grow anywhere a drop of moisture will accumulate. I find them growing in the gutters quite often. It's a good indicator that they need cleaned out. Hmmmmm. I won't even get started on weather as it was freezing last week and now 90s this week. What's up with that?

cindy murphy
5/9/2011 5:46:17 AM

I would have loved to see your grandmother's gardens, Michelle, and listen to her talk about them! I'm sure she had a lot to teach about plants.

michelle house
5/8/2011 1:20:13 AM

Cindy, your gardens would live up what I think in my mind. My gramma that raised me, her gardens were pretty,but not fancy or fussy, She was Native American, and for her plants were not be controlled. Except for the garden she always had,most plants were allowed to run free. I love those kind of gardens, and I know she would have loved yours. :) I am hoping that my wildflower plants will bring in butterflies.

cindy murphy
5/7/2011 6:02:40 AM

Hi, Michelle. I wonder if my actual gardens would live up to the standards of the ones you visualize in your head! They aren’t fancy or fussy, but they give me a lot of pleasure. I hope your wild flower garden gives you just as much, and that you have lots of butterfly visitors. And Mountain Woman…we had three days of actual spring weather here this week; sixty degrees and sunshine! I’m packaging some up and sending it your way. Happy Mother’s Day to you both!

michelle house
5/6/2011 10:10:35 PM

Hi Cindy, I love the pictures. :). And where I grew up, those violets were rampant, but oh so pretty, so they were left alone. lol, a compromise is always good. I want to plant this weekend, wildflower seeds, to attract butterflies. I can visualize your gardens in my head, partly because you have posted pictures, and partly because of your writing, you bring images to life with your words. Michelle

mountain woman
5/6/2011 2:18:15 PM

I'll drink to that :-) I was hopeful for today but it hasn't happened :(

cindy murphy
5/6/2011 7:27:41 AM

Thanks for dropping in, Mountain Woman. Still having snow there? I think that mid-April snow was our last....at least I hope so; it's the rain and cold that just won't quit. The reports are in...I just heard yesterday that we received more than double our average rainfall for the month of April. The local farmers are really hurting; many can't even get into their fields yet. As you said, here's to sunny days and blue skies ahead for us all!

mountain woman
5/5/2011 9:13:29 AM

I loved the title! I feel the same way. It's still winter here. We've had two warm days but interspersed with freezing weather and more snow. We've had virtually no sun and if it's not snowing, it's raining. No thoughts of working in the garden because it's too cold. I think we might skip spring and jump right into summer or maybe into winter again :-) Anyway, I did love the visuals you have of your spring. Here's to at least one warm day in our future.

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