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Savoring signs of spring


Spring comes painfully slow here, something that I’m alternately thankful for and tormented by. It’s nearly intolerable to see the beauty of spring, all fresh green and flowery coming to other yards in warmer areas when mine is mostly still brown. But the upside is that I always feel like I get a bit of reprieve on some of those all-important spring chores. 

I have a funny little problem in the garden. I want to rearrange a few shrubs, a few spireas here and a few more there, for the most part, but also there’s a new ‘Haas Halo’ hydrangea showing up early next week that I want to have a primo spot. Unfortunately I can’t remember what the heck the garden looks like when it’s not brown. I know where the spireas are, I just can’t remember which variety is where. Surely there are photos that can offer clues, but I haven’t dedicate the time to hunt them down yet.

Gardeners in warmer zones might be enjoying a tulip or two, but they are rapidly running out of time to move shrubs around when they are dormant, so I guess I have a leg up there.

The other benefit of spring that comes at a snail’s pace is that you learn to appreciate every little moment.

For instance, there was a bit of a celebration last weekend when the containers thawed enough to remove the winter greens from them. I enjoy that display all winter, but when you want it gone, you want it gone and for about the last month I’ve been ready to take a lit match to them. Which I would consider if it weren’t for the fact that the browning evergreens have the makings of a bomb by this time of year.

empty window box

But there are lovely little moments to be found. 

The first hellebore to bloom is ‘Spanish Flare’, just planted last year.

Hellebore Spanish Flare

Another hellebore is budded up nearby. 


And the winter aconites are always the very first to bloom. Simple and cheery, they are a most welcome sight. 

winter aconites

I can’t say I’ve ever thought much of tulip foliage and I had no idea the tulips I’d planted might have foliage that looks like this, but it is a delightful little surprise.

striped tulip foliage

23 Responses

  1. Spring is in full swing on the southern plains here in OKC. Granted, everything is late, late, late. The redbud trees which are our herald to spring were 2-3 weeks late, and we are digging out established landscaping due to the -20 degree weather we had for a week in February. The first thing to bloom in my yard after the crocus were the Virginia bluebells. My roses made it, but they died back to the slow line. All of my nandinas are gone (thank God…trash shrubs anyway), and three of my dwarf yaupon holly are gone (same sentiment). I lost one jessamine, and I am afraid my crepe myrtle is toast too. I forgot to dig my dahlias, but they made it, and I have planted more. I have lily of the valley coming up that I forgot I had planted, and all of my peonies are going to be gorgeous. They loved the cold weather, so thankfully, they made it.

  2. My hyacinth is poking through and I love this time of year when suddenly there is a lovely pop of color where there was only brown a week ago. Love your videos, thank you.

  3. I am from The Netherlands. I saw all your stories on You Tube since we moved to a new house with lot’s of ground.
    I never saw a tulip wirh that voliage…beautiful!
    You give me lot,s of inspiration for my own garden and I want to thank you for that.
    Have a great Easter weekend!

    1. We are in Oconomowoc, Wis, halfway between Milwaukee and Madison. Our south-facing garden has a few daffodils already and the tulip sprouts are about 7 inches tall. We spray generously with stinky repellent to keep the bunnies from eating our beloved heirloom tulips; they already had their way with our Chicago figs. Next year I will cover them in burlap. My Achilles heel is the dirty landscaping stones around our pool that never seem to be clean. Last summer I purchased a heavy blower that doubles as a vacuum to clean all those pesky pine needles out from under the arborvitae and bushes; it sucks up the stones but spits them back out. It is dirty work but the only thing I’ve ever found that actually cleans the stones. One blessing of the dry weather is it’s perfect for cleaning up those messes. I washed the chair covers for our outdoor chairs and plan to power wash the chairs this week. So many projects! We are prepping our vegetable garden this week, tilling up a section of lawn to install a native prairie, and doing general cleanup. Isn’t it wonderful to be working in the yard so early this year? I don’t remember having flowers blooming in March before!

  4. Wow, that tulip foilage is indeed amazing!! Please don’t leave us hanging without telling us the name of that variety???

  5. You have nice peeks of spring even though we have green are weather was hit the hardest with the freeze we had negative figures i have lost a jasmine trees and several shrubs and roses.

  6. Yes, it’s spring because Virginia Bluebells are in bloom right now in my
    KY garden…so beautiful!

  7. I grew up near Lake Michigan south of where you are gardening. I have always loved spring best and fall second. But the love of my life found his calling teaching out on the edge of the prairie. Summer seems to turn to winter without the color of fall some years and my spring is rarely more than a week or so.

    I, too, have had some shrubs to move but it is difficult when they do not go dormant until the snow is deep on the ground and wake up with a week of spring temps before summer heat hits. So I was moving 2 rose bushes today in 70 degree temps and full sun. Their leaf buds are breaking and although I covered them from wind and sun to help them adjust I have to consider that they will likely fail to recover.

    So I am glad for you that you do have the inbetween seasons to work in your garden. I hope spring breaks soon for you and you get to enjoy all the flowers of the season in your garden. Meanwhile I am thankful for you sharing your garden and gardening with people like me. I enjoy your work very much.

  8. Hey you gardeners,
    My tulips are about to flower and i have a solid 3 weeks of taking down trees, replanting sowing deviding weeding priparing logs for mushrooms kleening out the veggarden and lots more jobs. Im not nearly there so ya enjoy your not so soar back knees hands shouldersand all the musles you forget in winter. Just a bit longer, sounds good to me wen i stumble back in the house at the end of the day ??

  9. I’m eager too though I’m a bit further ahead in my 6a garden. Things are greening up and some of my dahlia tubers got delivered today. Hope springs eternal and I can’t wait to see your garden grow along with mine. Love your posts and videos. Keep em coming!

  10. i would love to grow hellebores in this zone 5b zone but an open winter w lots of ice killed off my friends hellebores. maybe a raised bed w pine bough winter cover? any suggestions? they are too pricey to loose? thnx gale

  11. Growing up in Milwaukee and with a son living near Rhinelander, Wisconsin I fully understand and enjoy your feelings you write about this time of year.
    I live in Ohio 6A and have daffodils and late crocus blooming. My anticipation is forget-me-nots (refuse to mow until they go to seed in late May) and tulips (hardly in bud). Oh, can’t forget the peonies (barely red now above ground).

    My 2 questions:
    Should I be thinking of fertilizing the daffodils now in bloom?
    Why do my heliotrope flowers face down to the soil?
    Cheerio. Thanks for your great videos. PS. I love your dogs.

  12. I am in Zone 5A in NY, I completely understand the highs and lows of Spring! I appreciate being able to share them with you. 🙂

    1. Really 5A in New York? I would’ve thought you guys would be warmer than that, I’m in 5B but I’m in Newfoundland Canada. Being so close to the ocean does give us a more temperate climate though

  13. That tulip foliage is stunning. Living in Holland, MI, I have planted my fair share of tulips, but those leaves are a first for me. I am looking forward to seeing that one in bloom.

  14. Hello Erin, I very much enjoy your videos and have learned a lot from them. Thank you! Love your winter aconites, too!
    As I was recently watching your video planting dahlias against the side of your house, I was wondering how high the stakes were?

    1. That tulip foliage is amazing…I cant wait to see what they look like in bloom! Thank you for all your videos Erin. I also live in Wisconsin, zone 5b & the information you share has helped me so much!

  15. Oh I so enjoy your posts! My thoughts exactly…looking at all the gardeners who are in a warmer climate, with all their green, has me a little envious! But we will get there soon! (Hopefully ??)

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