Weekend Garden Notes: Is It Spring Yet?

Yes, technically, it is. But it is still by no means spring-like. The ground is still mostly frozen. Yesterday was sunny, but had a high of 37 degrees F (3 C). Today is gloomy and windy, and snow is expected tonight and tomorrow.

However, you can’t keep a good (or at least an obsessive) gardener down. I did manage to spend some quality time with the garden this weekend, and made good progress on a variety of tasks.


Conducted a tour of inspection. Every gardener knows that one of the most important tasks is to walk through each part of the garden, examining with a critical eye developments (however microscopic) among the plants. Only the snowdrops (Galanthus) are blooming right now, which is at least something.

Note to self: buy some Hellebores and maybe Primula for next year in case we have another spring like this one!  Also, I was gratified to see that some of the early plants – such as the Serviceberry (Amelanchier), Forsythia, and Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) – have flower or leaf buds that are swollen with determination, readying for the right moment to burst open.

Gave the flower beds a haircut. Which is to say, I cut back the dead stems of last year’s perennial growth. I got all the beds in front, and made a good down payment on the back. I’m using the approach I wrote about recently, cutting in smaller pieces and letting most stuff fall where it may.

I can see, however, that I will have to rake up some grassy areas in order to maintain even lax standards of neatness. Also, I ended throwing the Nepeta stems, which  collectively were a huge stringy mass of soft brown, on to the compost. I will put some garden soil on top and hope for the best.

Chickadee birdhouse, up in the right corner.

Hung the birdhouse. I have a birdhouse for chickadees. This year I am hanging it in the old Japanese yew. I hope it’s a good location. Watching it sway in the wind, it occurs to me that perhaps the chickadees would like their house to be a little more stationary. I know I would. Also, I thought I had skilfully hung it so that you could see the opening from the porch. Of course, it twisted away the moment I went inside.

Brought in some Forsythia stems for forcing. I cut seven stems, and they should provide some indoor cheer in a week or so.

Were you able to do any work in the garden this weekend? Is it spring only in the calendar, but not in the garden, where you are?

51 Comments on “Weekend Garden Notes: Is It Spring Yet?

  1. Yesterday and today it was gorgeous outside with bright sun, temperature in mid-40’s. But, it is going to snow tomorrow!! So, spring is not here yet. How do you force Forsythia inside? Please share.

  2. Suggestion for your Chickadee house! Add a metal plate around the hole so that sparrows/woodpeckers don’t enlarge it, thus raiding the Chickadee nest. You can buy them at Wild Birds Unlimited in Glenview for about 2 bucks. They come in a couple sizes… I use the Wren size on my Wren boxes. Really works! I hope to cut down my grasses soon! Cheers!

  3. I *thought* about gardening, but then saw a rabbit eating the dead sedum stalks, something they usually leave alone. They have been munching the unopened hyacinth too. I’m thinking there must be a shortage of forage for wildlife, so I’m letting things be a bit longer. Plus, it’s COLD out there! And windy! And soon to be snowy!

    • I think you are exactly right about the rabbits. In addition to a shortage of forage, there is a surplus of rabbits around here. Any young shrub that is not protected gets nibbled almost to the ground.

  4. “However, you can’t keep a good (or at least an obsessive) gardener down.” You crack me up. That is tooo funny!!! I can definitely identify. Good for you!!!

  5. I brought forsythia stems in yesterday morning as well, along with some pussy willows, and branches of a tree I don’t know the name of. I will be hanging some Easter eggs on this big bouquet this week. Hopefully, I’ll have some yellow blossoms by next Sunday. I’m also hoping our snow will melt (we’ve been promised slightly warmer, though still below normal temps.), and I’ll see some crocuses soon! I thought I had ordered and planted snowdrops last fall, but when I checked the master list (I was just that organized for a change!), I discovered I misremembered. I’ve put a post-it note on the September page of my calendar so I’ll remember this year!

      • We have two cats; therefore no rabbit problems. Unfortunately, the woodchucks are not threatened by the cats, although one of them is nearly as big as a chuck! Still waiting for a crocus or some winter aconite.

  6. Looks like you are about the same level of spring that we are here…come on spring. I too check all the perennials with my faithful cat to herald signs of growth.


    • Our late lamented cat used to accompany us on garden inspections. Only thing is, any time we looked at a plant, she would immediately pose in front of it.

  7. I don’t know if spring is ever coming! Sounds like you have gotten a lot accomplished! I went peeking around on Saturday and saw some of my tulips trying to push through. I cleaned up some beds as well, but it still feels like everything is on hold!

  8. You are, as you know, ahead of me. 😉 But, I guess it’s good that I haven’t really had a tease of spring yet. So no two steps forward, one step back. Winter just lingers. Fortunately, I was able to escape to Florida last week, which helped my mood immensely. Flew into Midway near midnight and waved to all the Chicago friends and family on our drive north out of town. Now we have all of spring and summer to look forward to! Cheers!

    • Florida sounds pretty good right now. When I miss Madison I remind myself that my garden there would still be buried in snow.

  9. Another blizzard went around us here in Colorado Springs. Third time in a month. We had single digit lows, lots of wind, and about an inch of snow. Most everywhere else in the state got some good spring moisture.

    Did lots of cutback and tidying up in client gardens this week before the storm. I do love how it looks, spiffed up and awaiting green.

  10. Jason, I can’t work in my garden yesterday. Because of the snow, I shoveled and did long canals to melt fast.
    Have a nice week!

  11. I cut some lilac branches for easter decoration, but it´s so cold and there´s so much snow that all I can do is feed the birds.

  12. I am on my second batch of forsythia forcing. I thought SPring would be here by the time the second stems bloomed. Not so. I have been “gardening”indoors as yesterday the thermometer said 22 at dawn! Too cold for my hands to be in the garden. I’ve been sorting through tubers, organizing seeds and getting labels ready for new plants about to arrive in the mail!

  13. Happy Spring and happy chores, let the season begin! Plants are trying here, even so slightly. Good to see you are out in the garden, but our area is like a fe above, just waiting on the snows to stop.

  14. Well, it’s even been cold in the South, although certainly I’m not in the same league as you. Is there a reason you didn’t attach the chickadee house to a pole? Are they very susceptible to predators, or something like that? I ask because chickadees have taken up residence in my bluebird house and now I’m worrying that someone will barge in and cause mayhem.

    • I don’t have a poll for the birdhouse. I suppose I could get one, but I always hang in on something. The hole is small enough to keep out the predators.

  15. Icy cold wind and temperatures around freezing point here – snow forecast too! The best I could do at the weekend was to cut some Forsythia too – it’s already opening a little in the warmth of the house!

  16. I didn’t manage to do any gardening this weekend 😦 I also have a stinking cold! I’ve done a bit of tending to my seedlings -that’s a bit like a garden inspection but on a micro scale! Haha! You really made me laugh with that one dude, you’re so right! You can’t beat a good tour of inspection. I definitely spend a lot of time doing that 😉

  17. I have a similar list just waiting for the snow to go but on a plus note dahlia seeds are germinating in teh greenhouse

  18. We’ve still got plenty of snow on the ground, I wish I had snowdrops like you! I do refill my bird feeders regularly and right now am trying to outwit a very determined squirrel 🙂

  19. It’s been colder than normal for this time of the year here but that changes today with promised highs in the low 60’s! Hooray! Our ground very seldom freezes. It’s spring outside here! I got out, mowed, cut down three trees and limbed up a couple of others, and repotted a couple of plants. The mass tree removal of 2013 is nearly complete. Only a couple more trees to go!

    • There’s something so satisfying about removing old woody plants that you do not love. Almost as satisfying as buying new woody plants that you’ve got a crush on!

  20. I wish wish wish I could get out in the garden. I did a tour a week ago when the snow all melted, got excited, and then boom. Full on snow again. You’re list of tasks reminds me of all the things i need to think about when the weather finally does turn nice again.

  21. Progress is good-especially this early in the year when the weather flatly refuses to cooperate. Slowly but surely we’ll all get there.

  22. Hello!
    Lovely pictures.
    Fantastic snowdrops.
    I love them. They are a substitute for the upcoming spring.

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