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Suspended Animation?

May 4, 2020

An unusually warm March jump-started spring in my garden, but it was followed by an unseasonably cool April, which slowed everything down. It has often felt as though the garden is in a state of suspended animation – much the way our lives feel in these pandemic times.

But slowly, almost imperceptibly, plants have been growing. This was obvious when I went out on this beautiful May weekend to take a close look.

side slope greenery

On the side slope, the crocus blooms have faded, but their foliage has been joined by the new growth of many other plants. Even the hostas have sent up new shoots. hosta new growth

Plants are growing especially fast near the foundation of the house. On the south side of the house, sweet white violets (Viola blanda) have begun to bloom. On the northwest side, the foliage of this goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) is already a foot tall.

foundation violets foundation goatsbeard
blues border spring growth In the heat trap of the Blues Border, all the plants are well up out of the ground.

Throughout the garden, low-growing plants like hardy geraniums, heuchera and Lady’s mantle have produced lots of fresh green foliage,

New Green Growth

and I’m happy to see new foliage on my native sundial lupines (Lupinus perennis). lupine new growth

As I watch the new shoots of daylilies, phlox, peonies and asters getting taller,

phlox new growth peony new growth 2020
lilac buds opening and, especially, as I find lilac buds opening, I see the promise of wonderful flowers in the weeks and months to come.
15 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat Webster permalink
    May 4, 2020 12:55 pm

    Jean, I did the same walk-about this past weekend, with very similar results. Plants are sticking their noses above ground and more are beginning to bloom. In the woods, spring beauty is carpeting the floor and wild garlic continues to grow.

    • May 7, 2020 8:40 pm

      In these trying times, it does my heart good to see new flowers blooming every day.

  2. Kris Peterson permalink
    May 4, 2020 6:13 pm

    Growth isn’t so much suspended as just slower than you’d like. I’m experiencing the opposite effect: spring is slipping away as summer mounts a hostile takeover.

    • May 7, 2020 8:41 pm

      Kris, Usually our spring is a flash in the pan — very late to start and quickly over. (Think the song “June Is Busting Out All Over” from Carousel.) We don’t expect spring here to be a slow unfolding and become impatient when it is.

  3. Molly permalink
    May 5, 2020 7:36 am

    I love this time of year. It is so exciting, one day there is nothing but soil, and the next day little green buds appear :+). Yesterday my double bloodroot poked it’s pretty head up.

    • May 7, 2020 8:43 pm

      Molly, I love the excitement of seeing yet another plant poke up its first green shoots. Amsonia appeared this week, and I expect even the very late balloon flowers to put in an appearance soon.

  4. May 5, 2020 11:20 am

    When I lived in the North, I always found green to be a welcome reward for surviving winter. I hope you are well and staying safe.

    • May 7, 2020 8:45 pm

      Kevin, I agree; green is a very welcome color in spring. I think this is why I’ve never been able to get excited about white spring flowers (like snowdrops). I am well, trying to focus on enjoying my garden and not feeling like I’m in solitary confinement.

  5. May 6, 2020 5:44 pm

    It’s unusual for me to feel sympathy for others who are in colder climates than our own, but in this case it seems to be warranted. I know well that feeling of spring being put on hold – on ice, as it were. Still, as you show, the early stirrings of the garden are can raise our spirits nicely.

    • May 7, 2020 8:46 pm

      Jason, Apparently we’re going to have one last blast of winter this weekend, with snow likely. At this time of year, even several inches of snow will melt by the next day — and as far as the plants are concerned, this is just more moisture to help fuel new growth.

  6. May 7, 2020 10:29 am

    Now that I am resuming my other work for the first time in a month, mainly for vegetation management before the weeds take over the landscapes, I am surprised to see what is behind schedule, as well as what is ahead of schedule. Every year is different.

    • May 7, 2020 8:53 pm

      Tony, I’ve been keeping detailed records of what is in bloom each week for the past dozen years, and four years ago, I started noting the dates of key garden events. I’ve found just what you’ve noted; each year is different. One of the interesting things this year is that very early spring events happened about two weeks earlier than previous years, but late spring events are happening later.

      • May 8, 2020 1:39 am

        I never noticed a pattern; only that every years is differently. My great grandmother, who lived here for almost a century, used to get annoyed by those who were afraid of global warming or whatever they called it. After nearly a century, my great grandmother knew that the weather and seasons are viarable, but have not changed all that much.

  7. May 7, 2020 11:32 am

    Hello Jean, it seems like you’ll be taking a little longer to catch up with us. We seem to be having generally very warm and sunning weather, but once in a while we have a few days where the temperatures halve and it gets cold, with a slight risk of frost (but not generally in the south). We have another cold event coming up in a few days time and – as a fair weather gardener – I’ll probably be inside those days, doing something else.

    • May 7, 2020 8:54 pm

      Sunil, It’s funny. We started out well ahead of schedule, but the April slowdown means that we’re pretty much back on a more normal schedule now.

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