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!

  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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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!

  6. 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. 😀

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

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