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Turning Toward Spring

March 22, 2019

spring equinox houseThis past Wednesday was the spring equinox, the day when the sun is directly over the equator and sheds its rays equally on all parts of the globe. For the next six months, those of us in northern latitudes will have more hours of sunlight than those to our south; and those hours of light will get increasingly longer from now until we reach the summer solstice in June.

I woke up on the equinox just in time to see the sun rising through the trees due east of my house. The first rays of the rising sun painted a rosy stripe across the snow in my back garden, followed by a glowing patch of sunlight on the kitchen wall.

Although spring has not yet arrived in Maine, there are signs everywhere of the turn toward spring. In my driveway and along my dirt road, ice is giving way to mud. The snow is melting from the roof, and the snow banks at the top of the driveway no longer tower over my head.

driveway ice to mud driveway snow banks equinox

At both the front and back of my property, patches of open ground under the trees are growing larger day by day.

equinox bare ground1 equinox bare ground2

As if on cue, the flowers on my indoor amaryllis bulbs are fading and my potted cyclamen plants are going into dormancy. equinox crocus budsBut the equinox also brought this sign that their beauties will soon be replaced by those of outdoor flowers: the first buds on Crocus vernalis ‘Pickwick’.

As the earth turns toward spring in its track around the sun, my mind is also turning toward spring. I’m finding it more and more difficult to focus on those not-yet-completed winter projects as my head fills with plans and dreams for this year’s garden season.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Harriet Robinson permalink
    March 23, 2019 7:09 am

    You might want to add a few snowdrops along the foundation. “Pickwick” is not the earliest crocus. If it is already coming to life, imagine an even earlier flower bringing on the season.

    • April 4, 2019 7:20 pm

      Harriet, I’ve never been able to get myself excited about snowdrops. At the end of winter, I want more dramatic color than they can provide. But I could imagine adding some earlier crocuses in this heat trap area.

  2. March 23, 2019 2:22 pm

    It must be wonderful to see new signs of the garden’s awakening each day, Jean. The lines between seasons are far more blurred in my part of the country, although we do get some Spring surprises even here. Best wishes in implementing your garden plans.

    • April 4, 2019 7:22 pm

      Thanks, Kris. I do love this time of year when the sun gets warmer, the days get milder (mostly), and the snow cover recedes visibly each day. I now have crocuses in bloom, some new foliage on other plants emerging from beneath the snow and ice, and three flower beds now clear of snow and ready for spring clean-up.

  3. March 24, 2019 2:01 am

    All this reminds my partly why I am fortunate to live on the Central Coast of California.

    • April 4, 2019 7:23 pm

      Tony, To live happily in Maine, it helps to be a winter-lover. I confess that I missed the four seasons during the two years after college when I lived in southern California.

      • April 6, 2019 10:29 am

        Where in Southern California? Although I enjoy many of the tropical plants that grow in the coastal regions of Los Angeles, I would miss being able to grow apples.

        • April 6, 2019 1:14 pm

          Ventura County, coastal, about an hour north of LA. We could often see snow on distant mountains in the winter, and people sometimes piled their kids into the car, tied sleds onto the roof, and “drove to the snow.” But I missed real winter (and real autumn!).

        • April 6, 2019 1:30 pm

          There is actually more snow visible from there than from here, although we do get a slight bit of snow on the summit in my neighborhood. Snow does serious damage to redwoods.

  4. April 3, 2019 1:42 pm

    Hello Jean, it sounds like you’re desperate to get outside and start the season. I hope the warm weather doesn’t revert back to cold snaps and you can finally get on with the garden for this year. No doubt you will be catching us up, even though our crocuses finished well over a month ago!

    • April 4, 2019 7:26 pm

      Sunil, I don’t think my garden catches up with yours until July. I’m now at the point where enough of the snow has melted that I can walk around the garden each day. We are expecting mild temperatures (11-12 C) over the weekend, and I am planning to get out to do some pruning and to begin spring clean-up in flower beds that are now free of snow.

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