Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Suddenly Spring!

Fifteen days until spring! Hurry, please hurry! The Farmers’ Almanac states that on March 20th, the vernal equinox is at 8:02 a.m. (CDT). But, I don’t think I will sit and watch to see if spring will begin precisely at that time. I can smell it, hear it and see it. And, yes, it is 32 degrees at night.

All winter I have been looking at the bleak landscape trying to perceive it full of bounty and color. I have been rethinking the plants, moving the plants, and reading gardening catalogs. So it is pure joy to see, hear and smell the first signs of upcoming spring.

Red maple
Have you seen them? Most people are looking on the ground for the signs of spring. Look up!! See that little bit of scarlet red on the limbs of those trees along the side of the road. Those are the red maples that are budding out. Not only does the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) give us a wonderful show in the fall but it is one of the first trees to flower in the spring.

And then there is the flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), which brings back memories of my Mother’s gardens. It is one of our earliest flowering shrubs and is in the rose family. Seasoned gardeners may also know this plant simply as japonica. It is long-lived plant; you can still see it flowering on properties where old homesteads were. It is especially lovely blooming among the Wild Plum (Prunus Americana). And then there are the Snowflakes, Little Sweeties and Redbuds. Sigh!

Flowering Quince and Wild Plum
Little Sweeties

Edmond, Oklahoma redbuds

The birds are singing again -a sure sign of spring. There is a big difference between a bird's song and its call. Singing usually is a more melodious sound, while calling often is sharper and more direct and usually a sign of alarm. Spring is the time when most birds are busy mating and building nests. As female songbirds arrive to nesting grounds, they hear the males singing. If a song attracts them, a female will stop to look over the male, check his plumage to determine if he has desirable genes, and then explore his territory. It is the female that selects a mate. Wonder if we women should have our future partners sing?

What is the smell of spring like? It is earthy and composty. Sorry that is the only way I can describe it. You know it is one of those smells you can only describe but not name. It is kinda like the rain on the hot pavement smell. But the smell of spring has a name! Scientists call the chemical that makes dirt smell fresh geosmin.  It is caused by plant munching bacteria that live in the soil. Not very romantic.

Ah, spring - new life, little buds, increasing daylight, and warming temperatures. So stop for a moment, look up, take a deep breath and listen closely. Spring!


  1. Ah, Spring.
    Bring it on!
    I have many Goldfinches at the bird feeders. They must be storing up energy for the flight northward when Spring does arrive.

  2. I'm ready for it! I have a tree that I can see out my bedroom window. This morning when I awoke, I noticed that it had its first little leaves on it! They were not there yesterday! Spring is surely coming soon, and I hope it takes those freezing nights away! I've never heard the term "Little Sweeties", but I love it!

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  4. I got this information from my gardening buddy, Cecil (who is older than dirt). He says they are Narcissus jonquilla- Jonquil sweeties. A good site is Chris Wiesinger's (known as the bulb hunter) which is: