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February 27, 2005

Spring Fever

There is less than a foot of snow on the ground at our Minnesota home and if it continues to melt, we should see the first spring flowers by mid-March, only a few weeks away.

Tiny white snowdrops somehow manage to muscle their way through the remaining crust of ice and snow to appear first. There is something so quintessentially British about snowdrops with their white and green heads nodding atop graceful necks that when I see them, I always long to hop on a plane bound for Gatwick. Their petals open when the sun is out and remain closed when it’s cloudy. The clumps underneath the silver maple in front of our house have been expanding since they were planted five years ago. Last fall I planted more between the bergenia edging the window wells at the back of the house and between a row of My Favorite mums next to the pergola. I will be able to see them from the great room windows, an added treat.

When the snowdrops finish blooming, the early crocus begin. Since we remodeled our house and redid the gardens, my crocuses are no longer tucked against the southern side of the house where they would unfurl their sunny purple and yellow faces. Now they are on their own in a raised bed where they still appear early, just not as early as before.

Growing up in North Dakota, I enjoyed my mother’s spring borders which would always be flush with brilliant red species tulips that emerged after the crocus. Those splashes of vivid color went a long way to rekindling hope for warmer things after enduring a seemingly unending series of blizzards and cold.

We also have species tulips, which multiply year after year, but ours are Turkish tulips purchased from White Flower Farm. We planted at least 100, maybe even 200, along the north side of our house, a gently sloping area bisected by a dry streambed. Once they begin blooming, they open yellow, orange or red tapered petals to reveal a star-shaped center. Their bloom time lasts over a month as wave after wave of them dot the little hillside. It may not be Turkey but they seem very happy in Minnesota.

As the season moves on, the gardens are dotted again and again by bulbs – scilla, grape hyacinth, masses of daffodils, tulips, allium and fritallaria. I can’t imagine gardening without them.

Flowering bulbs aren’t the only harbingers of spring. Now when I open the backdoor to let the dogs out early in the morning, the air is full of a cardinal’s swaggering calls. “Hey, baby, hey, baby,” he croons, charming all the local ladies in red.

The cardinals may get the ball rolling but the true indication that spring has arrived is the trill of the first robin back from the south. When I hear that, I immediately stop everything I’m doing. I pivot slowly to scan the neighboring trees and power lines until I spot him.

There’s no more welcome sight than that tomato breast, white bib and dark cap nor a sound more cheerful than the distinctive warble that heralds the end of winter.

Since both robins and snow drops usually appear on or around my birthday, the Ides of March, I consider them my own special birthday presents.

And they are pretty cool presents, indeed. Just what I always wanted.

Posted by maasx003 at February 27, 2005 5:29 PM | Gardens

Comments

Ok.....now I REALLY have spring fever.

Thanks for the nice walk through your yard/gardens. If you notice someone peaking around....it could be me.

Carol

Posted by: Carol Just at February 28, 2005 8:19 PM

Geez, don't know if you will get this, --what is URL???anyway--reading the entry above, WOW, have you thought about becoming a writer--I can just see the flowers and smell them, etc. ---incredible!!!!!! Hey girl, don't forget that this year we WILL do your BD since it is your 40th--so start thinking of a date. going home for Bri's this weekend. love karen

Posted by: karen meier at March 2, 2005 6:04 PM

Love those Turkish tulips! Best little secret there is!

Posted by: Brian Maas at August 12, 2005 6:40 AM