Friday, February 22, 2008

February 12: Today was warmish, around 43 degrees. While raking the dead leaves around the rocks up front, I found many, many, many little crocusses--species, not hybrid. They're very blanched, but as soon as I recognized the little leaves, I could see more in the very short moss and grass around the rocks. No blooms, or even buds, yet. This business of moving zones is very difficult, in that I have no idea when to expect anything. I remember very vividly my first spring in Massachusetts. Nina was a baby, 7 months old in February, I knew no one yet in Boxborough, and I had spent days and days the preceding fall planting daffodils and tulips and crocusses. I had spent the last four springs in Virginia, in grad school, and there spring comes in February; although I had spent many weekends in Pittsburgh, there I was in the city, so the effect of spring was both muted and mitigated by the asphalt and buildings. So there I was, in the hinterlands of Zone 5a, colder than 5. Of course there was snowcover through February. March? Well, that winter, it really only started to snow in March; we got several 1-foot snowfalls. I was confused--in my Victory Garden book, which I had been studying all winter, Jim Crockett talked about whether or not to plant peas on the "traditional" Boston date of St. Patrick's day. It snowed that day, too. Meanwhile, I had started perennials indoors in February (I actually kept a garden log then, so I know.) These were some of my proudest achievements, these plants. I didn't have a light bench, or fancy seedstarting stuff, just flats and windows, but they did remarkably well, foxgloves and columbine and delphinium, although quite a few of them died. According to my log, two snowdrops bloomed on March 27th. By April 22, "daffodils blooming, fast and furious." But that week we had several snowstorms, too. I had been yearning for spring since February, two months of going outside every time there was a lull in the snow and peering at the dirt for little green noses. (I had to learn by myself that newly-planted bulbs bloom later than established ones; I have never seen this in a book, but it's true). The spring seemed to take longer to come, since I hoped for it in vain so long--like expecting Christmas every day from Halloween on. Is it today? Nope, not today.

Since that spring I have tried to moderate my expectations, based on when it is reasonable to expect some blooms. But how do I find out? I have looked for local garden blogs, but I can't find any in 10507. I know, of course, that these things can vary anyway--Acton's lilacs were always a full week ahead of Boxborough's, and Acton is only a few miles away. But are we talking March or April?

February 22: snow. Is it today? Nope, not today.