Signs of Life in the Garden

March has been such a tease. February was so mild I began to suspect that Chicago had been magically transported to a more southern latitude, but then March brought us back to reality with a snowstorm. Then the snow melted. However, every time I was tempted to feel a little comfort and joy in the garden, March would give me a rude poke with cold winds and a hard frost.

Daffodil foliage

Consequently, spring has moved forward at a maddeningly sluggish pace this month. Daffodils are emerging singly or in clumps, their leaves like green fingers poking up out of the ground. By this time in 2015 the ‘Early Harvest’ kaufmanniana Tulips had already bloomed. This year I don’t even see their flower buds.

The free Colorblends Daffodils I planted last fall are coming up in the Parkway Border. On the other hand, there is no sign of all the Daffodil bulbs I planted in the back garden containers. We’re talking over 100 bulbs – to lose them all would be a minor horticultural catastrophe.

Siberian Squill, I think

Anyway, this is a time when I can be seen slowly wandering the garden, looking with great intensity at what appears to be patches of dirt. But I am not looking at dirt. I am looking at new leaves coming up our of the soil. And I am looking for signs of further growth, minimal or imaginary as it may be during this cold March.


Even so, I think the container Tulips are OK after a difficult start this year. Just three or four had serious leaf damage – and maybe even those will still bloom.



The Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) are waking up.


Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a pretty reliable early riser. I appreciate the blue-tinged leaves.


To the uninitiated it may appear also that I spend a lot of time staring at bare shrubbery stems. But actually, I am examining the progress of flower and leaf buds, like those belonging to this Forsythia.


And those of our ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple.


Finally, here are some flower buds of our Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). There’s just a tiny hint of the future flowers that lay inside.

I’m linking with Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day, sponsored  by Christina at My Hesperides Garden.  Click the link to check out more leafy goodness at her blog.

44 Comments on “Signs of Life in the Garden”

  1. As usual, Evanston is ahead of Elgin. Various chives and ornamental onions are up several inches, and a couple of Siberian Squill are in bloom. Carex sprengelii has greened up nicely and the Honeysuckle vine against the south garage wall has leafed out.

  2. I hope all your bulbs will be ok, especially all your daffodils. Plants are amazingly tough and have such a will to survive, I’m sure they will all be shooting up if your weather stays above freezing. I can understand you looking for signs of growth, it is so reassuring when you spot any new shoots, as they hold such promise of delights to come.

  3. All gardeners will completely understand your fixation with ‘bare’ soil Jason; we all do it! I often find my daffodils are later than the tulips, so I very much hope yours will be the same and just be hiding from the inclement weather. Thanks for joining GBFD with all your fresh new growth.

  4. I have some allium foliage that is damaged. It looks prretty bad. I don’t know if they will bloom or not. I hope so. I planted several last fall. My tulips are up. Can’t wait to see some blooms. Good luck with your bulbs. I hope there is no horticulture catastrophe major or minor.

  5. Cold and windy here but I can see daffodils coming up outside the kitchen window. When I go down to get the mail, columbine, day lilies and sedums are all appearing. I am hoping these temps in the teens are soon behind us.

  6. Am drooling over your crab apple and lilac. (Lilacs won’t grow well here. I miss them from when I was a kid in Colorado.) Your bulbs look no worse for the winter wear. Looking forward to when they bloom and you take photos.

  7. I too enjoy wandering around the spring garden, seeing what I can see – any sign of life is always such a joy! Looks like we are a bit behind you as I don’t see much coming up yet, cut we are expecting nicer weather for the next week or so which should get things moving. And fingers crossed that those back garden daffodils eventually come up!

  8. Our stubborn snow has decided that it just LOVES mid-coast Maine and isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon. In the meantime, I am sending telepathic messages to the hundreds of bulbs that I planted last fall to hang in there, hoping that I won’t have a minor horticultural catastrophe. Patience.

  9. I’ve always got to wonder what the neighbors think of my aimless wanderings. All that shuffling around looking at the ground has got to look a little odd, especially when I’m carrying a camera and taking pictures of the dirt!

  10. Your spring is very like the one we had last year…..hopefully all will burst forth soon, waiting is soooo frustrating! We are in full swing here, even the tulips are about to bloom, glad to hear yours survived. Hang on in there!xxx

  11. I love and hate spring time in Chicago. I am constantly going outside, optimistic and worried, checking my tiny delicate plants and hoping there isn’t a major dump of April snow.

    This weekend I planted some Bells of Ireland seeds for the first time and am hoping that the weather doesn’t go crazy like it did early last week.

    For now, I’m focusing on starting my seeds inside and browsing flower catalogs trying to decide what dahlias I’d like to plant in containers.

  12. Hi Jason, I have not been keeping up with blogging much. I have decided to spend a little less time on FaceBook, so I can have some blogging time. I enjoyed your post. I loved what you said about it looking like you are staring at dirt. This is the time of year I do that, too. I call doing that a yard walk. My plants are later than usual, too, but part of it could be because I am still getting the leaves raked.

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