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Do I dare to dream of spring?


Do I dare?

Do I dare even get my hopes up that we may indeed be having an early spring and trust that we will roll right into a warm spring and a “normal” summer? 

You know the answer to that. I absolutely should not do that and yet I will. I am. 

This year’s winter was (see? I’m even using past tense) a cakewalk compared to the misery of the 2018-2019 winter. It never got that cold, we didn’t get that much snow and people weren’t as crabby as they usually are.

Before I go on, I think I should clarify here that warm winters in Wisconsin are not normal or good and both last year’s winter and this year’s are indicative of scary things happening with the climate. But I’m a long-suffering Midwesterner, you have to forgive me if I take a little enjoyment from the chance to be outside without a parka before May.

A fair amount of pruning has been done: spireas in desperate need of rejuvenation, Hydrangea paniculata and H. arborescens and, in an exciting development, a heading cut on the hornbeam hedge.

Since I planted the hornbeams, I’ve only done light branch pruning to help (successfully, I believe) them thicken up, but I’d resisted doing any apical pruning, even though I’ve been stewing about it. Fortunately I had a chat with garden designer Nick McCullough, who frequently uses hornbeams in his designs, at a symposium I organized a couple weeks ago, and he advised that hornbeams are reluctant to grow wider until you give them no choice by making a heading cut.

The next day I was on the ladder topping them all at 100 inches, which is shorter than what I’d like the eventual height to be, but right now the width is more important to me. 

hornbeam pruning

hornbeam pruningIn the past week I’ve started panicking that I’m behind in my seed starting. Seed packets usually give a range of a couple weeks before the last frost to start seeds inside and, after last year, I was leaning toward the shorter end of that range. Now I’m having second thoughts and trying to catch up. 

But the ground is still frozen and the containers still have winter greens frozen in place, so at least nature is checking my enthusiasm.

And then there’s the little matter of photos I came across from last April 15 when we got about 6 inches of snow. 

Allium in the snow

That’s when I tell myself: Cool your jets. It’ll come when it comes.

17 Responses

  1. Thank you for the reminder to cool our jets! It’s so hard to keep from uncovering every bed. I try to also remember that April snow can freeze a lot of things. It was good for me to read this post again. Have a great spring everybody!

  2. Well you guys, spring is just about right around the corner. Hopefully everyone stays safe and the weather gets warmer. It’s been a bummer so far with all the lockdowns happening but at least that gives us more time for gardens.

  3. I just discovered your delightful website (while “researching” Monty Don)! We live in Zone 5 on the coast of Maine and are experiencing generally mild temperatures for March. Hopeful that spring is coming early – but, really, we know better.

  4. I’ve also been holding off on starting seeds. While it was a mild winter, spring seems to be gathering speed rather slowly, with unusually cold temperatures for March.

  5. We just returned from northeast Texas where the daffodils bloomed and have finished. Then a return to central Ontario (zone 3B -yes, 3B) and daffodils are two months off. I am winter sowing in the hope of getting sturdy plants to pop into the garden for our short season.

  6. It’s been a mild winter here in Kentucky, zone 6. Hellebore and a carpet of purple crocus led the way in the yard’s parade of color. Daffodils are doing their thing right now and with another two weeks and about three inches of growth, spring’s finest will be in bloom…Virginia Bluebells. Can’t wait !

  7. So nice to find your blog Erin, and read about gardening in Wisconsin, which I’m sure is much more of a challenge and long wait than here in central Ohio. We had a very mild winter too, so much so, that I was bit by a mosquito this week. Not a good sign.
    Nick McCullough is from Columbus, where I live, but I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. You are fortunate indeed to get to ask him questions in person. I suppose growing a hornbeam hedge is somewhat similar to growing a privet hedge in regards to trimming. Mine is taking much longer than I had expected, but I suppose I need to get out there and give it a good trim too.

  8. I am loving it, but need to get out and start some cleanup work. Don’t want to cut back Epimediums but maybe it’s time. Hard to know what to think, and then add in the economy and COVID-19 and it is hard to slow one’s brain down enough to think at all. I was looking at info from when we put in the pond in 1997. I was hysterical because we got 5 inches of rain in June; an inch and a half in one storm. Now, part of that is because the garden was just a big hole for the pond and muddy hills above it. So rain was worrisome. But now we are getting that month’s worth in a day, so it was clear that the climate has changed. Snowdrops are up here and I’m seeing a few Hellebore buds. So many matted leaves that it is hard to spot anything else.

  9. I cleaned out old asparagus stems today and “horrors” found 3 that are already sending up new shoots. Almost waited too late. Hope to cut back variegated lirope tomorrow before new tips are damaged from my shears. Suppose I need seed planting soil to get my early garden plants started. The peonies are poking through, forsythia will be in full bloom in couple more days. Springs coming to northern Virginia after a very very mild winter.

  10. Just about a 90 minute drive south of you, I’m feeling happy watching the 200 tulips emerge from the ground that I planted last fall. Watcing your videos inspired me to plant tulips for the first time ever!

  11. Down in middle georgia zone 8 it is full blown spring with highs from 70-80. I’m in a sweaty mad dash to hurry and do my yard projects and planting before it gets in the 90s and 100s and stays there until the end of October. Wisconsin snow sounds wonderful right about now lol

  12. Same here. Just happy to get out an do anything at this point but also need to remember that we have a bit of time before see can push the gas to the floor. Ohio hasn’t gotten really any snow either and only a couple good night’s of below freezing. Def zone 7 weather here.

  13. I am in Oklahoma City, and we have had several days of 70 degree weather, but I am not doing much yet. I uncovered bleeding hearts yesterday, pruned roses, and started cleaning out flower beds, but most of the landscaping is still covered. I do not clean out dead leaves in the fall (except for around my roses) as the leaves provide good mulch material against the cold for peonies, bulbs, dahlias, hostas, etc. I do a huge clean up in the spring, but the local news is forecasting that winter is still here.I am hanging on before planing elephants ear, caladiums, and cannas though.

  14. I often felt that spring was lagging behind when I lived in Ohio. It is fun to see an early spring with all the trees, shrubs and flowers starting to wake up. I enjoyed your video on sharpening pruners; very helpful. Mine are in desperate need of it. Have a great day!

  15. Hahaha this made me laugh. I live in Denver (zone 5) and we have had near 70 degree weather. It is such a tease!!! and will be completely interrupted by the possible snow chance on Sunday.

    But I am with you hoping for warmer weather and sunnier skies.

  16. I live further South than you and we are having the same weathers. Of course it is warmer here but our winter was mild. It feels like spring here already except the wind keeps my enthusiasms in check. We also had snow in April last year. Crazy. You just have to follow your gut feelings about this weather business.

  17. I can relate! I’m in New Hampshire and we’ve had a relatively mild winter, as well. My problem is that my yard tips, every so slightly, to the north, so I still have about a foot of snow on it. However, my dirt driveway and dirt road are very muddy! Temperatures have already reached 60 degrees a couple of times! But, like you, I’m cautiously optimistic. Could this be the one year that we have an early spring? Fingers crossed!

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