Lilacs are the most perfect of buds, expertly wrapped in leathery veneer. Once the weather turns, they swell before our eyes, making kinetic the potential stored in them all winter.
I remember my mother cutting flowers from the lilac bush outside our back door, bouquets that spilled over a large snifter vase — the centerpiece of our dining room table. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell the memories.
I spent most of yesterday cleaning away leaf litter and the remnants of last year’s garden. What started out as a chilly morning quickly moved to no-coat status courtesy of a bright, warming sun. I sawed — yes, sawed — down the dried plumes of Miscanthus and removed spent Sedum, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia stems that provided texture and height all winter.
It’s that time of year when we start to find out what’s coming back in the garden. Tufts of new growth pop out from the crowns of perennials as they break their dormancy. The usual suspects were up as I walked the garden this morning. Narcissus, Geum, Iris, and Sedum. They’re the ones I’d expect this early — the old stalwarts of spring with tough foliage that can stand dips below freezing.
We woke to a snow globe of a day, wet flakes stirred into a frenzy by the trailing winds of the nefariously-named bomb cyclone. It made my decision to retire my winter coat for the season a bit short-sighted. On days like these, where the tease of spring is retracted by Jack Frost’s last gasps, it’s wonderful to come home and see the hope of a new season. The first vine of the Clematis starts I have growing on my kitchen sink has burst forth with a green only found in plants just born. This one is a C. jackmanii, so I think I’ll call it Jack Jack for now. Once its purple blooms grace the garden fence later this summer, I’ll give it a more regal name.
The march of the daffodils has begun. The length and warmth of days has slowly increased, enough to trigger the energy within the dormant bulbs to activate. I’ve lived long enough to not be surprised by the bright green tips emerging through winter’s brown, but each year I feel a joy as if I’ve never seen them before. An old friend, reincarnated, perhaps.
With less than two official weeks of winter left on the calendar, the daffodils’ arrival is the first sign of renewal. I haven’t yet added hellebore or witch hazel — the usual harbingers of winter’s end — in my new garden, so, for now, the trusty old daffodils will serve as our first inkling of spring.
Frigid. That’s the only way to describe the first few days of March. The thermometer was lower in January, but there’s been something about the recent cold snap that goes straight to the bones. The sun dodged in and out between flurried squalls but never brought the warmth we’ve all be craving. Next week, perhaps.