Spring Closeups

I love looking at life as it springs forth after the long and dark of winter. The new season always gets me down on my knees, up close to flowers, to buds, to leaves, to weeds in the garden. Scratch the dirt, and smell the awakening soil! Push your hand into the dirt, and feel the warmth moving into the soil.

Moss and grass are greening.

Look! Worm castings! There will be night crawlers!

What a wonderful time of year.

Look at this photo of a cactus on top of our stone retaining wall. Its pads are still wrinkled and miserable-looking. Last year’s desiccated fruit still clings.

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Opuntia cactus. Once the weather is full warm, these pads will plump up, and a new year of growth will begin. If past years are any guide, on some night soon all the old fruit will disappear. The darktime nosher is most likely a skunk or coon.

Even more wrinkled than an opuntia pad is an emerging leaf of rhubarb. There’s a lot of leaf compressed into those wrinkles. Adult leaves on this rhubarb plant will be 18″ across, or wider. That’s a hat-sized leaf.

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Is there anything redder than a rhubarb bud?

Hyancinth buds are tightly packed, too.

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When my mother was in her last years, someone gave her one of those pots of hyacinths, with the shiny colored foil around the container. After the bloom was spent, I replanted the bulb at the side of her porch. My mother has gone, but the hyacinth still blooms every year.

The scillas expose, then extend their florets.

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Scilla are, to use the words of the bulb catalogs, “good naturalizers”. Which means that single bulbs soon turn into many, either from enthusiastic bulb division or from seed dispersal.

Cardoon rosettes have begun to expand, testing the warming air of these lengthening days.

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Among the gray-green of these cardoon leaves are brown accents of winter eelgrass mulch.

If you’ve read this blog, you know I like flowers.

One of my favorite spring flowers is the snowdrop.

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This snowdrop clump is near the doorsteps of the house I grew up in. I still remember opening the bags that the bulbs came in, and helping to plant an assortment of bulbs in the earth, including these snowdrops, along with crocus and grape hyacinth. They still flower, every spring, over fifty years later.

Crocus are a delicate flower, and rabbits love to eat them. But the bulbs are persistent. Especially where their roots do not have to compete with grass. A single bulb will, over time, become a clump of croci.

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Crocus can be gold.

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For this honeybee, after a long winter’s fast, flowers are a welcome find.

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For this honeybee, springtime crocus is truly gold.

4 responses to “Spring Closeups

  1. Beautiful, just beautiful. Another gift of this already gift-laden day. Can I take any more? YES! The last of the wood was split, I’m lugging it into the shed for next year…My daffs are sickly, I kept them under leaves too long, but they seem to be springing back…(little joke). Then clear the soon – to -be- garden of wood chips (a multi purpose area in this small yard), I have tomato plants in the sun on the window sill. What more do I need? OK, maybe a back that behaves a little better than mine does.

  2. About ten y ears ago I planted a large bag of croci in the flower bed in front of the house. Since then I’ve barely had a glimpse of them; the bunnies were there as soon as they broke ground. But this year they are blooming in profusion! I wonder if the cold winter decimated the rabbits?

  3. Yes! Your photo of the tiny wrinkled rhubarb leaves brings back a memory: when I was 4 or 5, my mother and brother went out to see the newly emerging rhubarb plants. Indecisive, I didn’t go with them, and wished I had. Ever since, the sight of emerging has become something all the more tantalizing and mysterious.

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