It’s hard to believe that there were still some patches of snow around here just two weeks ago. Spring has definitely arrived, and things are changing daily, though you have to look pretty closely. Even on foot, the roadsides don’t appear too promising.
The appearance of maple-sugaring equipment in the neighborhood was the very first sign of spring. I imagine these sap bags keep the liquid quite clean, though they’re not as charming as the old galvanized buckets some of the folks around here use. I don’t think it was a good season for sugaring here, because we went suddenly from cold days and cold nights to mild days and mild nights.
The nearby wetlands don’t look very active, but the spring peepers and other frogs seem more abundant this year than they have been for a while, and their chirpings and croakings are almost deafening up close.
I’ve never actually spotted any of them, even though I’ve tried to be patient. I do get to see lots of skunk cabbage, though, which is the first thing to get growing each spring. Usually it starts in late February; this year, the flowers emerged in late March.
On the roadsides, the first “real” flower–coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)–opened about a week ago.
The woods aren’t very exciting yet, either.
The only thing I could find flower-wise was the emerging shoots of rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides).
I was hoping that the ramps (Allium tricoccum) would be ready to gather, but they’re just now emerging. We’ll have to wait another week or two to pick some for salads.
It is a good time for other green things in the woods: the various mosses and lichens. I hope to someday have time to learn more about identifying them. I have some basic IDs on the shots below.
This is also a good time of year to prowl around the old stone walls in the woods to find what I used to call “writing rocks.” They are, I believe, a metamorphic rock known as hornfels. This sort of rock is very common in the neighborhood, but it doesn’t always have these cool markings.
This is also a good time to visit the vernal pools in the woods. I’ve watched this one for over 40 years now. It’s filled with lots of eggs this year: from both frogs and salamanders, I think.
There used to be two pools about this size, but over the years, one pretty much disappeared. A few years ago, Hurricane Sandy knocked over some big trees, which was a sad thing, but the holes they left are now holding water in spring…
And some of the holes are even deep enough for the frogs, so I’d say we have half a dozen vernal pools now.
Back at home, too, things look pretty quiet from a distance.
This black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’) can’t be counted as showy, but it’s interesting, at least.
The snowdrops are the first of the garden flowers to open. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated them more than I did this year!
Spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum) is the next to open. It lasts only a few days and is barely an inch tall, but it’s cute. And, I think it’s starting to produce seedlings, so maybe there will be a nice patch someday.
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) also had its brief but cheery show in early April.
The reticulated irises (Iris reticulata) started last week and are still lovely.
Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis) first opened about 10 days ago and is still looking good.
The hybrids (H. x hybridus) just started opening just a few days ago, so I haven’t gotten many pictures of them yet.
Below are some scans of other odds and ends.
Before I go, I wanted to mention the release of a new book by Barbara W. Ellis: Chesapeake Bay Gardening & Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide.
It’s meant specifically for gardeners in the Chesapeake Bay region, obviously, but, knowing Barbara’s wealth of hands-on gardening experience in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, I’d recommend it to anyone in the Mid-Atlantic area. I do have to admit to being somewhat biased, however, because I owe my career in gardening publishing to Barbara. Twenty-five years ago next month, she hired me as a summer intern in the Garden Books division at Rodale Press. At the end of the summer, she let me join the team as an assistant editor, and since then, she has been a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. Many of you are probably familiar with her name, because she has written a number of other popular garden books over the years, including Deckscaping and Covering Ground, to name just two. You can follow her current adventures in her Maryland garden at Eastern Shore Gardener.
Well, by next Bloom Day, these two fluffballs will probably still be playing in their sprinkler. But I plan to start shearing later today, so after a few sessions, they’ll be back to their scrawny little selves and actually able to feel the cool water.
I hope to have some green garden paths to show, too. Over the last few days, I’ve accomplished Stage 1 of my garden changes for this year: seeding the bark-mulch paths back to grass.
Four weeks should make a big difference, if the weather cooperates. In the meantime, thanks for visiting, and enjoy this spring day in your own garden. If you need more spring color, be sure to check out the other Bloom Day participants in Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens.