3.18.2012

THE WINTER THAT WASN'T--THE SPRING THAT'S SPRUNG


Because I didn't do a fall cleanup last year, I expected to have a big job of pruning, raking, and clearing away dead stalks this month. I figured I'd be wrapped up against the cold, and getting the job done before the arrival of tender new growth. Mid-March: I didn't expect spring to be here. And I sure didn't expect to be gardening in shirt sleeves.


In Rhode Island, we don't normally see daffodils for a few more weeks. And I have never had such early greens springing up for my salad--having survived the winter. But there you have it.

The hellebore is way ahead of schedule. I find their nodding heads so charming. But, not content to leave well enough alone, plant propagators are now developing hellebore varieties that look you in the eye; they are kind of forward, I might even say a bit brazen.

This one has not only arrived early to the party, but, I might add, she seems to be scoping out the crowd with some disdain. Some of us think she is the one who is a tad overdressed. All that blush.

What, have we become too lazy to reach down and lift up a tiny cup to peer inside?

Must every plant be bred to have the same temperament?

Some things about the modern plant world make me grumpy.


My gardening friends all over the East coast are talking about how everything is coming up at least three weeks early this year. I'm not that surprised by the appearance of cabbages in the cold...though I've never seen them pull through the winter with such aplomb.


I would be expecting crocuses--soon enough. But I welcome that shot of sunshine now. It may be warm, but the skies have been a dreary gray.


Wonderful how sedum looks like tiny cabbages, or Brussels sprouts, or something vegetal. Welcome! Please, keep your coats on!



Maybe spiderwort doesn't mind cold nights. And what about that combination of green and purple?


But should the roses really be unfurling their leaves right now? Aren't they going to catch a chill?


It is much too soon for these furzy heads to be peeking up out of the soil.


Anything that is a thug normally will become an even more rampant bully this summer, I can tell. The petasites is already showing signs of aggressive tendencies. There will be a great deal of weeding to do by May; most of the stuff that should have died back from cold is still here, and firmly rooted. I'm already two-fisting the grasses.

I doubt we have a "new normal". Rather, I think we simply don't have normal any longer. And like everyone else who has found herself in a new gardening zone, I'm torn between anxiety (what are we doing to our planet?) and enjoyment (how amazing to be able to be out in the garden so soon; my own limbs are unfurling.)

I suppose we must all figure out how to maintain two tracks these days. I certainly am. One features a long growly Debbie Downer mutter, full of apprehension, about global warming.

But on the other track, I'm  happily wielding the pruning shears, raking up debris, watching out for the new life springing out of a dull, sleepy soil--and bringing the first of the daffodils inside, where their sharp fragrance fills the kitchen with a reminder that something's cooking out there.    

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