Spring is NOT here yet!

Based on the current temperatures (it is 60 at 6:30 in the evening as I type this), you would think otherwise. However, it will be in the mid-30s this weekend and spring does not yet officially arrive until the 22nd. Even making that assumption can be dangerous. If you haven’t already figured it out, there’s really nothing we can do to side-step the vagaries of the weather (good or bad); however, it makes no sense to be tempting fate either, lured to committing near-fatal errors by distractedly warm temperatures. Your plants in the ground will simply have to fend for themselves; with a nasty cold snap and freeze there may well be some serious, even severe, damage and there is nothing you (or I) can do about it. Fretting is not good for your immune system and won’t change anything anyway. So don’t. Also don’t rush putting things outside that can wait; staying on the sun-porch or in the garage or basement a while longer generally won’t hurt them and you don’t want to have to go through the panic of trying to drag everything back under cover when a sudden drop to below freezing is announced.

The warm weather has pushed many early-flowering trees and shrubs into bloom; it is a cheeringly delightful sight to discover while walking (actually, slogging) through the garden. Even if we loose these blooms to a cold snap, we get to enjoy them right now; well worth the risk (since we can’t change it anyway)! Which reminds me: next week we will talk about selecting trees, especially small ones, but I’m going to anticipate some questions and even some activities, since the big boxes already have them for sale. If you are tempted to run out and buy flowering crab apples or early Magnolias or flowering cherries – DON’T, in a word. Why in the world would you want to populate your garden with the very same things that you are able to see – for absolutely free – on almost any street within a fifty mile (and much further) radius. Giving in to the temptation to purchase what you are seeing RIGHT NOW will almost assuredly guarantee that you will end up not having room for things that are far more interesting down the road. There are SO MANY wonderful plants available in so many colors and forms with fascinating foliage and shapes, etc.,etc., etc, please don’t continue to populate our landscapes with more of the same. I assure you that plenty of folks will – you will ALWAYS be able to see those plants unless, of course, some disease comes along that wipes them all out and creates another scenario similar to what Dutch Elm disease and the Emerald Ash Borer gave us: denuded streets and many neighborhoods with almost no trees in sight. Details at another time, in another posting.

PS – one last piece of commentary. Most of us who garden are pathetically sedentary during the winter. Take a page from the book of athletic competition. Start slow this spring; do some mild warm-up exercises and stretch routines before going out to see just how far and fast you can push your body before it pushes back. Just a reminder.