It really wasn't that many days ago that we were talking about how the cold changes things at the farm. Our pictures featured snow or frost and the only additional colors we tended to get occurred when the sun was setting and the wind was blowing at the same time - giving us something like this:
Here we are in early April and the natural world is waking up around us. Well, truth be told, the natural world has been waking for some time. It's just that we humans sometimes need to have some really obvious signs to actually catch our notice.
Crazy Maurice has been showing off his yellow branches for a several weeks now, indicating that he was rousing from his cold weather slumber. As he mentioned in last week's blog, he's been watching the world turn and reconnecting with his tree acquaintances on the farm.
Maurice is now in full flower and the green leaves are starting to unfurl. He is really quite a handsome fellow and we're glad he's anchoring the northeast corner of our farm. After our discussion for last week's blog he pointed out that I had not taken a recent portrait - so we took care of that during a recent walkabout.
I realize most folks start to talk about Spring when they see the daffodil, crocus and other bulbs poking up from the ground. After all, it is true that they are among the first green and growing things that make themselves known. I am, of course, happy to see them preparing to bloom.
And some of the blooms are a little quicker to open than others. Most of our daffodils have not opened, but a few of them were brave and decided they couldn't wait any longer. I thought this particular bloom was doing a fine job of looking good with rain droplets adorning its petals.
Sadly, daffodils don't last very long on the farm because they are usually opening when the heavy April winds are blowing things around pretty good.
But, I think this is true for most flowers - they never last as long as I wish they would. That is why I remind myself to stop and enjoy them whenever I notice them. After all, a whole year's worth of sunlight conversion and energy storage have gone into producing these flowers and I don't want to fail to acknowledge that effort.
Crazy Maurice and I were also talking a bit about Pasque flowers because they are always among the first flowers on the farm each year. The first flowers that pop up from these plants often represent most of the volume of the plant that is above ground early on. But, not to worry, the greens will catch up with the flowers. If all goes well, each plant will reward us with multiple flower stalks and a bloom period that may last a few weeks. We'll take it!
Another early bloomer at the farm are the Forsythia bushes that we have placed in a few locations. Those that reside on the borders of the farm have to fight a bit, but the one that is not far from the house is a happy plant. Apparently the combination of just a little shelter from the harshest elements (and the neighboring fields) means something.
What makes a Forsythia standout is the fact that they are typically covered in flowers - and that coverage seems to happen overnight. I tried to pay attention this year and I just wasn't seeing the buds swelling. Then, suddenly... POOF! Flowers.
By themselves, I think it would be safe to say that they are not terribly eye catching. Don't get me wrong, I do like them and I did appreciate seeing them up close and personal.
The strength of a Forsythia and its flowers is that it shows off almost before any other plant. Sure, the grass has greened up some. But, nearly every other woody plant is still pretty barren. If you want to call attention to yourself, be audacious and flower before anyone else does!
All too soon, the green leaves will come in and the yellow petals will drop. Other, showier blooms will begin drawing our attention away from the Forsythia as it goes about the business of growing and storing energy.
Before that happens, I will go out and appreciate these bushes each day. They exhibit the beauty that a group, working in concert, can achieve. It is something we could all aspire to.
Another early season perennial that surprises me every year - even though I know it well - is the Lungwort. These are shade loving plants that show off before most of the other perennials have pushed anything up out of the soil for the year. By the time we get to June, there won't be so much of them to see.
Right now, they are growing - and growing fast! I took a picture of them one day and then again two days later and the plants had tripled in size and in the number of flower clusters they had showing. The blooms start as a pinkish red before they open and turn to a soft blue-violet.
Some folks might be more familiar with Virginia Bluebells.
Well, we have those as well at the farm. Not as many as I think I would like to have, but you might not be wrong if you guessed that I could really imagine A LOT of bluebells.
There are some definite similarities between Lungwort and Bluebells, but we have found that the Lungwort tends to start at the farm first. On the other hand, it seems as if the Bluebells are a hardier plant, showing the ability to grow reasonably well most places that have a little shade.
Either way, I am happy to provide a home for some of each at the farm. I keep thinking that we might split some of the bigger plants to encourage them to spread and cover more ground. But, by the time we get to that idea, the rest of the farm is calling our attentions elsewhere.
That's ok. If these plants keep coming back year after year - looking healthy - I'll still be pleased with the results.
It does seem like Spring is moving very quickly this year. I suppose if we compare it to the last few years, it really is moving quickly. There is still a decent chance that we will see another freeze or two and we haven't gotten our "three snows on the Robin's tail" by my count.
Just as a gentle reminder - here is the snow/ice map for May 3, 2013.
Yep, we had a snowstorm in May that year. It happens and nothing says it won't happen this year. Yet a big difference is that the Daffodils, Pasque Flowers and other plants were just about at the stage they are right now. That year (2013) was a slower Spring and the plants weren't much bothered by it all because those that were waking up were tough enough to deal with it.
Crazy Maurice tells me he doesn't feel much of a threat for a deep freeze this Spring. In fact, he's sounding and looking pretty optimistic that Spring is here to stay. On the other hand, the two of us agree that this is looking to be a dry year in our area.
After the number of wet seasons we've had, I might be tempted to welcome a dry year. But, I know better than to say too much for fear that Mother Nature will hear it and decide to give us too much of a good thing. And, now that I've said that, I realize that Mother Nature doesn't really care that much about what I think. She'll do what she does and we'll do what we must.
None of that is under our control, so I'll spend a bit more time appreciating the blooms on Maurice's branches (at left). I'll keep stopping to appreciate the Lungwort and the Forsythia. I'll smile at the Daffodils and offer encouragement to the Bluebells. I'll walk on green grass and even take note of the little yellow dots of Dandelions making their appearance.
There's a good deal to see when you take the time to look at the plants around you as they wake up.