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Spring Speed-Up

March 25, 2012

When I left Gettysburg, Pennsylvania two weeks ago to spend my spring break in Maine, I left a garden that was just beginning its spring display. Crocuses were open, forsythia buds were ripening, daffodil foliage was up (although there were not yet any flower buds to be seen), and my bleeding hearts were just starting to put up new spring growth.Spring display in my Gettysburg garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

But while I was away for ten days in March, this garden experienced May temperatures accompanied by some April showers; and when I came back, I found this!

Daffodils and hyacinths blooming in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - March 2012 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) The crocus blooms were long gone, and the forsythia was in its full glory. The biggest surprise, though, was the abundance of daffodil blooms where not a single bud had been showing. Pulmonaria (lungwort) had also begun to bloom, and the bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos spectbilis) had grown by leaps and bounds. (One is even sporting flower buds.)
Pulmoniaria beginning to bloom in my Gettysburg garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) New spring growth on bleeding hearts (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Spring in the mid-Atlantic states, which usually unfolds slowly and sweetly, seems to be having a speed-up this year. As I walked to work this week, I found daffodils, tulips, forsythia, magnolias, peach, pear, crabapple, and cherry trees all blooming simultaneously. At the same time, irises already have big fat buds on them, lilacs (Syringa) have leaves, the bracts of flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) are opening, and eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is blooming weeks ahead of schedule in a garden area behind my office. Looking out as I write this from my second-story study, I see a tree canopy that already has the lacy look of flowers combined with new leaves.

This sped-up version of spring actually reminds me of spring in Maine, where the season usually arrives late and then happens so fast that you are afraid you might miss it if you blink (or go away for a few days). The weather forecasters in south-central Pennsylvania are promising us cooler temperatures for the coming week, which I am hoping will slow the spring awakening down a bit. Meanwhile, the same unseasonably warm weather that is responsible for the spring speed-up here has also visited Maine, getting spring off to an early start and creating the possibility for an uncharacteristically slow, sweet, languorous season there.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2012 12:05 pm

    In Denmark there is a saying:

    April er ikke til at stole på;
    Hver dag hun har en ny kjole på!

    (April can’t be trusted;
    Each day she wears a new dress!

    I do hope she will wear something lovely and pretty for us gardeners, though…

    • March 31, 2012 8:50 pm

      What a charming saying, Soren. March has certainly been dressed up and looking beautiful here this spring; it will be interesting to see if she can look even better in April.

      • April 1, 2012 1:11 am

        Over here in Denmark, April has started with frost on the lawn… (And we had a bit of snow yesterday, though nothing that settled.)

  2. March 25, 2012 12:38 pm

    Jean my garden on spring steroids is now going to be hit with a hard freeze this week…the lovely flowers (all of which you show here) are in for some severe weather…I am afraid of the results…especially my lilacs which are budding out already to flower…..and all the early bulbs faded fast in the heat…what a fickle Mother nature is…no slow spring walk.

    • March 31, 2012 8:54 pm

      Donna, It’s amazing to me that my garden on the Mason-Dixon line is a bit behind yours. We had just enough cold this week to slow things down — so my daffodils are still blooming two weeks after I came back from Maine to find them in full bloom, and the forsythia and hyacinths are just starting to fade. I haven’t seen any sign of buds on lilacs yet, though. Although we had some light frost here two mornings this week, it wasn’t anything that daffodils, hyacinths, pulmonaria and bleeding hearts were fazed by.

  3. March 25, 2012 2:46 pm

    What a beautiful scene with those forsythia framing the view. I’ve heard a few people worry about how quickly spring is passing this year. What a shame if the hot weather comes too quick as spring is such a nice time of the year to work in the garden.

    • March 31, 2012 8:56 pm

      Marguerite, This is the time of year that I love forsythia. Although the early spring blooms came early here, and the magnolias and cherry trees are already gone past, cooler temperatures have slowed down the dogwoods, viburnums and redbud, allowing for more leisurely enjoyment of the season.

  4. March 25, 2012 3:38 pm

    That’s an awesome photograph at the top of this post.

    • March 31, 2012 8:58 pm

      Thanks, Allan. I’m fascinated by the two different colors of forsythia that grow around here. I’ve only seen the more brassy gold one in Maine, but I really like the softer yellow better. Before I move from here, I’m going to see if I can root a cutting of that softer yellow plant and get it to take in my Maine garden.

  5. March 25, 2012 4:48 pm

    Spring has unfolded more quickly than I would haved wished. Luckily the cooler weather has come back for the opening of the tulips. Your garden looks beautiful!


  6. March 25, 2012 8:52 pm

    Terrified by the predicted 28 degrees on Monday night.

    • April 1, 2012 3:35 pm

      Eileen, We have lucked out in south-central Pennsylvania with weather cool enough to slow things down, but not so cold as to cause any serious damage. Even so, trees seem to be about a month ahead of schedule; it has been strange to see redbud in bloom and many trees with leaves before the end of March.

      Carolyn, I hope your nursery plants survived the cold relatively unscathed. We had more frost on Thursday night than we did at the beginning of the week, but the plants I currently have in bloom (forsythia, hyacinths, daffodils) don’t seem to be fazed by a little frost. The big concern here has been the fruit trees; Adams County is a big apple- and peach-growing region, and the trees have bloomed weeks ahead of schedule. A serious freeze in the orchards could do serious damage to the summer and fall crops.

  7. March 26, 2012 1:00 pm

    I love your take on this early, warm Spring. I hope we get to enjoy the colors and scents for much of the season. I will be covering some tender plants this evening since frost is forecasted.

    • April 1, 2012 3:40 pm

      Mary, I have certainly been enjoying it! I have to allow extra time to walk to work these days because I dawdle along the way to check out what’s blooming. There is a grove of trees and shrubs behind the building where my office is located, and I manage to cut through it several times a day — mostly on my way to and from class — to check out the blooms of viburnum and redbud and the new growth on red-twig and yellow-twig dogwoods growing there. I also love all the birdsong at this time of year, especially in the morning when it provides a musical accompaniment to my walk to work.

  8. March 26, 2012 3:49 pm

    Jean, noticed an express version of spring in my Houston garden. We have had two weeks of 80 degree weather. I have daffodils, daylilies and amaryllis all blooming at the same time.

  9. March 26, 2012 11:15 pm

    Even here where I’d hardly call our spring leisurely we are having massive leaps. I swear that I have a basil plant that is three times as large as a week ago, and europsis that has doubled in size in that week. Its wild, in that quaking in my boots thinking about July kind of way. Since we can’t make it be normal, I say enjoy the lovely weather!

    • April 1, 2012 3:48 pm

      Lucy, Wow! Even in the sped-up version of spring that is typical in my Maine garden, I’ve never had daffodils and daylilies blooming simultaneously.

      Jess, I have an old-fashioned bleeding heart plant (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) in my front garden in Gettysburg that seems noticeably larger when I get home in the afternoon than it did when I left in the morning. Every year, when it’s first little red nubs appear, I think it looks much smaller than last year; by May, it looks like the plant that ate Manhattan!

  10. March 27, 2012 9:09 am

    We had a similar explosion in CT, Jean. Now, however, it’s cold as I’m sure it is in your PA garden. Spring is fickle.

  11. Ann Marie permalink
    March 27, 2012 10:45 am

    Spring….what spring?? It was only 26 degrees here this morning! I thought it wasn’t nice to fool mother nature, not vice versa. Everything looks great in your PA garden Jean. All the forsythia is out here as well, crocus has come and gone. All my lillies on the side of the garage are coming up now, maybe even a hosta or two. Hope all is well with you!

    • April 1, 2012 3:56 pm

      Joene, It’s been more cool than cold here. Although it has gotten down below freezing a couple of nights this past week, daytime highs are mostly in the 50s and 60s. This is my favorite time of year in Gettysburg.

      Ann Marie, It didn’t get quite that cold here, but it did get below 30F on Tuesday morning. At this point, I think all my hostas here have put in an appearance with spikes of new growth, and I’ve seen some on my walk to work already unfurling leaves. But you’re several hundred miles north of me; I’m amazed that you already have hosta growth showing. I hope the hostas aren’t up yet in my Maine garden; if they leaf out before I get there in May, the deer come in and eat them. And once deer have had a taste of hosta, nothing I do will keep them out of the garden!

  12. March 29, 2012 8:25 pm

    Jean, it’s true that Spring seems to be fast forwarding. Right now, the temps have cooled — and I’m hoping it puts the breaks on Spring. I like my Springs long and slow and gradual.

  13. April 1, 2012 2:35 pm

    I know these awards require a lot of thought, but I have nominated you for The Sunshine Award.


    • April 1, 2012 3:59 pm

      Kevin, Spring did slow down here this past week, so I hope it did for you too. When I first moved to Gettysburg, the slow spring drove me crazy because I was used to things happening so much faster in Maine. But once I got used to it, I came to love the sweetness of a slow spring awakening. Thanks for yet another award. This one’s a natural for me, since my favorite color is yellow :-). I promise to post soon.

  14. April 7, 2012 8:21 am

    Hi Jean,

    Happy Easter and Happy Spring.

    Those daffodils look so beautiful and the forsythia is amazing! I’ve never grown it. Spring is here and I’m so looking forward to inspecting the gardens each day to see what’s coming up.


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