Sure, spring isn't officially here for another week, but that technicality won't keep plants from emerging and beginning their seasonal growth. Crocus, Tulip, and Daffodil are already poking up in many areas. The first greening in the garden to catch my eye was the Columbine (Aquilegia). At the point you've had enough of winter and begin to question whether it will ever end, that first view of green brightens your spirit and proves the cycle of life continues.
|The Columbine is springing up.|
If you haven't been in your garden recently to see the new color, go exploring. Grass is among the first to green and grow in early spring. Most grasses are cool season plants and grow best in the cool, moist conditions of spring. From a distance your lawn still looks brown, but as you get closer you can see the new, green shoots pushing their way through the dried mass. In no time at all they will overwhelm and cover the brown.
|The grass is greening before the rest of the garden is cleaned up.|
Many perennial groundcovers are ready to grow quickly when the blankets of snow and ice are uncovered. My Thyme and Periwinkle (vinca minor) have thrown back the shackles and are adding nice color to the garden and paths.
|Periwinkle beginning to spread in spring.|
Most evident in the early spring growth are the weeds. Perennial weeds will try to gain a foothold before your other plants wake up. As I've mentioned before, use the opportunity of recognizing the green weeds against the brown of winter and remove them before they pose problems to other plants. It's their bad luck to be the first to express new color.
|This dandelion got a little too confident. It will be gone soon.|
Keep track of your plants as they emerge from winter slumber. Established plants of the same varieties should break ground at about the same time. If you see bare areas where nothing is growing, make note of that. You probably lost some plants to the harsh conditions of winter and will have to replant in those spots. You don't have to replace losses with the same plants; use the opportunity to plant something new.
Think about the other animals in your garden too. If you haven't been feeding the birds during the winter, now may be a good time to start. They're more active as they prepare nests and look for food sources. You don't need to wait for flowers and insects to bring them in. A few bird feeders and bird houses can make your garden the center of bird activity. We have a pair of doves that nest nearby; they always spark my heart when I see them swoop into the garden.
Rabbits, squirrels, and gophers will also become more active in these early days of spring. Have you acted to keep them on the side of the fence that you desire? Repair fences and covers or put up new ones to help keep them under control. Our dogs are spending more time outside now and helping to define the territory that other animals should avoid.
My apple tree is displaying buds that should open soon. Prune out diseased or broken branches from your trees and bushes before the leaves obscure your view of the troubled spots. Look at the shape of your fruit trees, berries, and grapes. Correct pruning will make a stronger plant and produce more fruit.
The soil is warming. Soon it will be time to plant my cool season vegetables. You may be doing it already. Broccoli, cauliflower, and peas like cooler conditions. Radishes, lettuce, spinach, and carrots will grow quickly and do best in the mild spring weather. My raised beds are ready.
That first green shoot of spring is also the green flag of the race to get everything prepared for the frantic planting, growing, and harvesting days ahead. Take the time to soak in the new color, but recognize that your gardening days are about to get busier. You wanted it... spring is here.