Cue the angel chorus; there is hope

That's right folks. Look past the almost three feet of snow still covering most of the yard (in my part of the world) and you will indeed see signs that spring is on the way. I donned my new Target wellies the other day (with this much snow it's going to be a very wet spring) to take a little cruise (well, not so much a cruise as a fight ... for ... every ... step ... as ... you... plod ... through ... snow ... up ... to ... your ... crotch) through the yard to see what I could see. And what I saw made my heart sing.

First I took a glance at the little strip of ground next to the south side of the house that is bordered by the patio. This is a lovely little microclimate that can support plants that are at least zone 6 if not zone 7, so it's always the first place to produce a plant. The snow also melts quickly here so I can actually find dirt.

And look what I found there: daffodil shoots!

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Look at those cute little daffodil shoots!

I'm not sure what is going to come up in this bed this year because I raped it in late fall when I dug out all of the overgrown Russian sage that grows there. I know I damaged or destroyed a lot of bulbs in the process so it will be a surprise this spring. By the way, I'm replanting the area with ... more Russian sage, believe it or not. I'll do a separate post on that though.

Then I made my way around the corner to the area in front of the fireplace. This has been a very tough place for plants, in my experience. It faces west, but there are large trees nearby so it's really gets mid-day sun from the side but not so much hot afternoon sun. I had a rose there for awhile and that failed. Then I planted a gorgeous Kamagata Japanese maple (whose death I cannot mention without almost shedding a tear but you can read about it here and here) and then last year I put in a witch hazel. I can't be sure of the cultivar because the tag is buried under the snow, but if I recall it's a spring bloomer with red flowers. It's not  much to look at now, but up close you see there are indeed little buds thinking about bursting little blooms forth.

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It's not much to look at right now, but hopefully soon it will be.

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Do you see the one little bud with just the tiniest fraction of pink sticking out?

Incidentally, over on Garden Rant today James Roush is talking about drinking the witch hazel Koolaid, saying that they are unremarkable plants that no one would grow if they bloomed in June. And here are my thoughts on that: he's probably right. But that's just the point: a plant that blooms in June better be darn spectacular because there's a lot of blooming competition. A plant that blooms in early spring basically just has to show signs of life and a little color to make me want to set up a lawn chair and gaze at it lovingly. But in defense of the plant, it has amazing foliage. So there.

And then I went to look at my Acontifolium (Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium'), which is quickly becoming my favorite plant/tree in my yard. Again, it's unimpressive from a distance. Like most Japanese maples, it's a slow grower, but I love its shape and its color throughout the year cannot be beat.

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I love Acontifolium's vase shape and it looks particularly nice against the dark green evergreen.


I was happy to see it too has several nicely swollen buds, but I was horrified to look down and see what those nasty rabbits have been up to this winter.

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Acontifolium is ready for spring!


Those little bastards chewed the bark on my favorite tree! Now I've dealt with my share of irrational rabbit damage, but this takes the cake. I've never had them do this kind of winter damage before.

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The good news is that they did not girdle it, which usually is a death sentence for trees. Everything I've read leads me to believe that it should be able to heal itself without intervention from me. But what I should have done, and will do now to prevent further damage is to use some tree wrap. Apparently you can leave it on as long as the tree is still small and doesn't threaten to grow into the wrap, and by then the bark should be tough enough that Thumper and friends won't be interested in it.

More snow is on the way here, but Mother Nature can't fool me ... I know spring is coming. My plants told me so.

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