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Spring Has Sprung!

April 23, 2010

Bluets (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Our coating of snow last weekend (see Spring Snow) seems to have been winter’s last gasp. The days since have brought sunshine and above-average temperatures; and spring truly seems to be here. Suddenly, there are carpets of bluets (Houstonia caerulea) underfoot,

Viola blanda (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Phlox subulata (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

… and the wild sweet white violets (Viola blanda) and the moss phlox (P. subulata) have begun to bloom.

The little woodland flowers have begun to appear, Unidentified woodland flower (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
vernal pool (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) vernal pools dot the woods,

New Leaves (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)and the deciduous trees are producing their new leaves in various shapes and colors.

fiddleheads (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) On the dirt road leading to my house, the ferns have put up their delicate fiddleheads of new growth,
and a viburnum is blooming at the edge of the woods.
Viburnum (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Viburnum bloom (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Alas, the black flies have also hatched out several weeks ahead of schedule, ending my carefree days of working in the garden without a full suit of protective netting. But, to quote the Carole King song, “You’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet.” And this early spring is most definitely sweet.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 5:12 pm

    It does look like Spring has sprung! The colors of the fresh leaves and the unfurling fern fronds are so pretty.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 8:33 pm

      Catherine, We had another warm, sunny day today; and things are happening fast here. Today I noticed another smaller variety of violet in bloom, and I also saw the first blooms on wild strawberry plants. I actually made my first visit to my favorite nursery today and spent some time dividing and transplanting plants. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before May. I’m going to start keeping my weekly garden record for this year tomorrow — something else I’ve never before done in April.

  2. April 23, 2010 5:44 pm

    Ugh, blackflies already?! They do make being outside a misery as I seem to have a bad reaction to their bites and swell up unattractively. I guess that’s the sweet part of my bitterness, no growing things only snow right now. Or is that all just bitter?

    Christine in Alaska

  3. April 23, 2010 6:17 pm

    Carole King was so right – we really do have to take the good with the bad – and the blackflies are definetly the bad. Just think though, the sooner they come, the sooner they go leaving the rest of the summer without them.

  4. April 23, 2010 8:21 pm

    I hate blackflies, and mosquitos, the worst part of gardening. Oh, did I mention horseflies, why do they always have to dive bomb your head. But I do love spring!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 8:39 pm

      Christine, “Ugh, blackflies already!” was exactly my reaction; we don’t usually get them until the second half of May. So sorry to hear you are still under snow; I know it is frustrating when everyone else is showing off their spring gardens. When things start growing in Alaska, they must really take off fast. How long does your spring last, about 12 hours?

      Heather, I hope you’re right that having the blackflies hatch out earlier means that they’ll be gone earlier. My fear is that the blackfly season will just be several weeks longer than usual :-(.

      Deborah, I find the blackflies much harder to deal with than mosquitoes; I hate the way they go for eyes and ears, and my body reacts to blackfly bites much more than to mosquito bites. We don’t get many horse flies here, but we do get deer flies later in the season. They don’t bother me so much in the garden, but they chase me when I go out to walk/jog!

  5. April 23, 2010 11:35 pm

    Beautiful post Jean! You most certainly are ahead of me. You fiddleheads are adorable, and what an incredible viburnum. 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 8:41 pm

      Rebecca, I don’t ever remember seeing this viburnum before. At first, when I spotted it a few days ago, I thought it was a flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and was amazed because they are not usually winter hardy here. But then when I went out with my camera yesterday and took a closer look, I realized it was a viburnum. I have a viburnum in my garden with buds on it, but it is not blooming yet.

      • April 26, 2010 11:28 pm

        Does your viburnum have (or need) a pollinator? I bought Blue Muffin last year, but am now wondering if it will flower/fruit for me without one.

        • Jean permalink*
          April 27, 2010 4:55 pm

          Rebecca, This question sent me to my reference books. I couldn’t find anything that said that you need two viburnums for pollination to occur. I planted this viburnum seven years ago and I have never seen berries on it; but I’ve never seen flowers on it before this year. So I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  6. April 24, 2010 4:03 am

    Your post looks very familiar and beautiful Jean. The bitter and the sweet… the tiny dragons have started here too… not full speed yet though.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 8:43 pm

      Carol, I love the description of blackflies as “tiny dragons.” It’s right up there with the description I once heard from a park naturalist at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland; she called them “flying jaws.”

  7. Elephant's Eye permalink
    April 24, 2010 6:53 am

    Are the vernal pools the last of the snow melt, or spring rain?

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 8:49 pm

      Hi Diana, I guess the answer is all of the above. Vernal pools are depressions in the earth that fill up with water whenever there is any water around that needs a place to go — including snow melt, heavy rain, or just a high water table. But, by definition, they are temporary, drying out at least part of the year. I think the ones in my woods have water in them more than half the time, filling when we have heavy rains in late fall, freezing over in the winter, thawing and filling with melting snow and then with spring rain as winter ends, and finally drying out in mid-late summer. I think they are called “vernal” pools because they are most important (and protected) as spring breeding grounds for amphibians. Because fish can’t live in them, species that breed there can lay eggs without predation from fish.

  8. April 24, 2010 8:33 am

    So glad that spring finally found you Jean! Your little Viola blanda is charming. Sorry about the black flies though…no fun.

  9. April 24, 2010 10:20 am

    Oh I absolutely cannot stand black flies. But try this… take a bit of fresh Lavender leaves, crush, and rub on exposed skin. That is, if you’re not allergic to it.

    It will only last about an hour, but the bugs will not bother you near as much. It worked for me last year after I tried it on a hunch.

  10. April 24, 2010 1:17 pm

    Hello Jean,

    I do love to see what kinds of wildflowers grow in other parts of our world. I just love the white violets especially 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 9:02 pm

      Clare, I love the little violets. They pop up all over the place in spring, but they don’t spread enough for me to consider them a problem.

      Kara, thanks for the blackfly repellent tip.

      Noelle, The wildflower display is just starting in the woods around my house. It turns out that the little flower I found blooming yesterday in the woods near the compost bin is a wild oat (Uvularia sessilifolia). Today, I noticed some bare stems topped by buds, so I’ll have to watch and see what they turn out to be. The foliage has appeared for the little flowers called Canada Mayflower that carpets the woods here in June. (I’m not sure where it is in Canada that they bloom in May!) I can also look forward to Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora) and our native orchid, the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule).

  11. April 24, 2010 3:09 pm

    Jean – I love that the most delicate-looking flowers pop up first! The moss phlox looks as fragile as fine china.

    (Black flies, horse flies and deer flies — the only part of the NE I will never miss.) .. a Whip-poor-will on the other hand, I’ll miss forever..

  12. April 24, 2010 6:23 pm

    I can’t believe you have to put up with those black flies. I won’t complain anymore. Everything looks so beautiful!


    • Jean permalink*
      April 24, 2010 9:08 pm

      Eileen, I have sometimes imagined that heaven would be just like Maine, except without the blackflies!

      Shyrlene, It is clever to have those small delicate flowers come first in spring, when we are so starved for color and bloom. They might be easily overlooked later in the season. Well, I don’t think the moss phlox would ever be overlooked. When I was growing up in Massachusetts, they were known as rock garden plants. But here (perhaps because of our sandy glacial soil), they self-sow readily in fields and meadows. At this time of year, you can see huge carpets of them in various shades of pink, purple and white just growing wild.

  13. April 25, 2010 2:46 am

    How lucky you are to be surrounded by woods that you can enjoy. Too bad about the black flies. We are so lucky not to have mosquitoes or flies but are very often beset by wasps, even more so after mild winters. There’s always something, isn’t there?

  14. April 25, 2010 7:03 am

    Hello Jean, well I’m a little less ignorant on two counts now. I’ve learnt what a vernal pool is from your earlier response to a comment and I’ve gone and looked up black flies. And here was I thinking we’d cornerned the market on nasty flies here in Australia!
    Your shot of the vernal pool is enchanting!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 27, 2010 3:43 pm

      Heidi, For years, I didn’t even know I had vernal pools on my property. Then one summer I had a smoldering underground fire caused by a lightening strike out in the woods; and went I went back out there in spring to see how the burned area was recovering, I was surprised to find myself standing at the edge of a pool of water!

  15. April 25, 2010 12:06 pm

    Your photographs are a wonderful tribute to spring. I love spring violets (perhaps that is because they grow here). I have searched about for your email address as I wanted to contact you re: blotanical.

  16. April 26, 2010 11:23 pm

    Hi Jean, I actually read this post when you published it…as it came thru to my email box. I just now am getting around to leaving you a comment. I just had a friend in Maine report that 9 inches of snow were a possibility…??!! Did that happen??!! I hope not, truly I do! She still has all her snow and ski gear handy so has no real problem with it…but to a gardener I’d imagine ‘enough is enough’! I lived there all those years and was never bothered by snow, but back then I wasn’t much of a gardener, unless you call weeding, cleaning out the gardens, raking and other required ‘chores’ gardening. I so appreciate living where spring comes just a bit sooner! I enjoyed your photos of natives and woodland flowers coming to life. Hope you’re enjoying ‘spring’…and that ‘spring’ is indeed there to stay;-)

    • Jean permalink*
      April 27, 2010 4:53 pm

      Hi Jan, The ski areas did get several inches of snow from that storm a week and a half ago; I’m not sure if it was as much as 9″. Snow is now forecast again for tonight, including 6″ or more for Aroostook County and the western mountains. They have been promising us for days that the rain to the south and west of us was about to get here; it finally happened today, just as cold air also drops down from Canada. And to think, just yesterday I was feeling embarrassed that I hadn’t gotten around to putting away my snow shovel yet! The snow isn’t supposed to amount to anything in this part of Maine, because our overnight lows are supposed to be in the 30s. I hope that’s right because many of the trees have opened their leaves at this point, and heavy wet snow on fully opened leaves can do serious tree damage.

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