Grouse About The Rain, And This Is What You Get

So apparently the weather gods took note of my last post complaining about our torrential rains and flooding. The weather gods don’t appreciate malcontents.

Yesterday I drove home from downstate. Flooded roads and highways turned my usual four hour drive into an eight hour trek.  When I woke up at home the next morning, the ground was covered with a light blanket of snow.

Snow in April
Snow on April 20th.


I had to get up early and go to my gardening class, and the morning cold had a sharp bite. On the plus side, temperatures in the low 30s do tend to keep me awake. The sun did come out in the afternoon, and the snow melted away.

All these abnormally cold days have slowed the advance of spring, but have not stopped it entirely. The spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is finally blooming.

Spicebush by the back porch.

More people should plant spicebush. It blooms before the forsythia, though the blooms are a lot more subtle. And whereas I think of forsythia as having only one season of interest, spicebush has three. In addition to the yellow spring flowers, spicebush has ornamental red berries starting in late summer and nice golden yellow fall color.


In addition to the spicebush, the very first of the daffodils have begun blooming. I’m afraid I lost track of what variety this is.


Many plants not yet in bloom but are making good progress in that direction. The red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa L.) flower buds are already visible. Actually, they look kind of like little green cauliflowers.

Red elderberry
Red elderberry. See the flower buds? This one blooms much earlier than black elderberry (S. canadensis). 

As are the buds on these Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica).

Virginia Bluebells

Other than bulbs, what are your favorite early spring blooms – and which flower buds make you happiest when they appear?


40 Comments on “Grouse About The Rain, And This Is What You Get

  1. Sorry, but I can’t help but chuckle. The weather gods and goddesses do like a good laugh, and we who love to garden are the perfect objects (subjects?). As for early blooms, I’m devoted to my two very young Witch Hazels. December and January, I’m outside in any weather checking for bud break–like micro-mini fireworks.
    Here’s wishing you a sunny, dry Monday!

    • Thanks so much for the good wishes! I have been yearning for a witch hazel for a while. I planted a very young one last year, but it was nibbled down to almost nothing by rabbits during the winter.

  2. “Snow in April” would be a better name for a white flower than what is happening where you are. Hopefully things will moderate for you and that you have learned your lesson in dealing with the weather gods.

  3. Happiest and favorite can be two different ones, I assume? My big clump of bloodroot makes me happiest; my favorite however is either my Red Jade crab apple or my akebia quinata. Oh, oh! Maybe lily of the valley, even if it is so invasive.

    • Hadn’t thought about the difference between the two. Bloodroot, Red Jade crab, and Akebia are all on my list I want to get some day.

      • Too bad we are not closer that I could just hand the Red Jade, bloodroot, and akebia across the fence! Oh, wait if you lived across the fence I just wouldn’t be beating the akebia into submission every couple weeks! 😉 Even here it is thinking world domination, but maybe instead of talking to plants I really should be writing “Passing by with Pruners”

  4. Oh brrrr….not warm here either.

    Sorry about the snow.


  5. Hi Jason,

    It won’t surprise you to know that walking Jack the dog several times a day has given me a great opportunity to view neighborhood gardens and beds as things emerge through the season. I’ve staked out my favorite lilacs, not so much for their color as for their their scent. I know where to find mock orange shrubs to enjoy, since my yard is too small to accommodate one. I particularly like to watch for the clump of Siberian iris along the edge of my alley to bloom. Finally, I’m watching your early tulips in the bed west of the driveway. Are they Kaufmanniana?

  6. I just shook my head as the snow was falling! Just keeping us on our toes I suppose! I would really like to dive into the garden and feel very frustrated with the delay! But I have plenty to do with the flooding to keep me busy until everything decides to get blooming! Love your spicebush!

  7. Brrr! Looks chilly in your garden. Those elderflower buds are amazing – I must go and look at the ones in our woods as I’ve never taken a closer look at this time of year. I have lots of spring favourites – this week it’s the Pulmonaria. 😀

  8. I’m not sure we’re going to have a spring we can enjoy. This may be a year we go right into summer. We’re still hovering in the 30’s and it’s nine days until May. I love all my plants peeking up this time of year and I do enjoy my daffodils.

  9. Love your spicebush. There is something so sweet and hopeful about their delicate early blooms, facing down horrid weather. Mine took forever to grow and mature enough to bloom, they were very slow starters, but are now getting big enough to notice.

  10. Another great reason to plant spicebush is that it is host to the spicebush swallowtail butterfly! I hope the weather gods take mercy and bring you some spring very soon!

  11. We had snow here as well. So depressing at this time of year! I love the spicebush and looked up more images online. I like its vase shape and you are really right about the 3 seasons of interest. It is now on my wish list.

  12. Hi Jason!
    We April at you it’s cold?
    The bushes are already big buds, after all, is the spring flowers bloom wish …
    Beat the cold.
    I wish you a nice day.

  13. I saw the fist photo and we had that yesterday too. All the finally blooming tulips were on their sides this morning. My neighbor had spicebush and when she sold the house, the new neighbors cut it down, along with the hundred year old peonies, lilacs and shrub roses. Sad.

    • Sad and frustrating. For gardeners it is hard to understand people who are completely insensitive to the beauty of plants. It’s like people who are unmoved by music.

  14. I love that delicate look of the spice bush. It’s hard for me to think of spring when it’s autumn here – but I think even more than flowers, what makes me happiest is seeing the little green bumps in the soil that announce the coming of the new fern fronds. But I will get very excited the first time my new baby elder produces berries like that. Divine plants and photos.

  15. yes we had snow too on the 20th…but we also get snow in May so I roll with it…I love seeing the early wildflowers like VA bluebells, hepatica, blood root, Mayapples, trout lily, trilliums and on and on.

  16. My favorite early spring blooms are the crab apple trees, and my crossvine. I look forward to both every year. So sorry you’re still getting snow! Hopefully spring will actually arrive some time in 2013!

  17. I had to zoom the first picture for a closer inspection, I couldn’t believe it was actual snow! Crazy. Well, yesterday I’ve been planting tomatoes and this morning it’s raining and there are 12°C. Nothing compare your snow, though!
    I love that spicebush, how does it smell?

  18. Difficult to answer your question as we brought our first house only three years back and ever since then got into gardening. But still snow in late April! Is that normal in Chicago? I hope your weather gets better soon.

  19. Hi Jason, oh, that’s so dis-heartening. I can’t believe you can still get snow in April, I’m glad it quickly disappeared though. This year’s growing season is getting increasingly squashed isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: