Jason and I went for a walk around the garden yesterday, to see what might be poking its head up, and to encourage ourselves that spring really is coming.

There are a surprising number of Kaufmaniana tulips sticking their noses up! We planted a lot of these bulbs last fall, with the help of our friends Jo ana and Anne. What an excellent thing to have done, now that it is early spring, and we are in need of good cheer.

The crocuses are coming up, and a few of them are even escaping the predations of the rabbits. As I said, it was a rainy day, so they weren’t open, but there were still bits of color here and there. Jason has a spray bottle of rabbit repellent, and will be out after the rain clears to douse everything that is vulnerable.

One of the things I like about this time of year is that you can see the shapes of the trees. This is our hackberry tree, in the bed along the street. It replaced a Norway maple about ten years ago.

Our street had numerous full-grown Norway maples, and they died one after another, over about five or six years. They were most likely planted because they were popular, quick growing, and tolerated urban conditions. However, Morton Arboretum says that they are “invasive” and “can’t be recommended.” An article in the Baltimore Sun says that Norway maples “are notorious for strangling themselves to death” with girdling roots. “Death can take decades, but often happens just when trees reach a pleasing size and shape.”

In any case, we chose the replacement from a list of trees that our city plants, and got a hackberry. I thought it was ugly and awkward for years, but as it has grown, it has become more graceful. I like the mix of angular trunk connections and curvaceous limbs. And I always love to see the nests in the branches when the leaves are gone, and know that someone has made a home.

The bark is very pleasing too.

Like this tree, some of the flowerbeds are still wintery. Here are the stalks of the cup plants, newly cut back by our gardening team, who will be coming twice a month to help maintain things. (More about that in a future post.)

Continuing our stroll around the garden, we find many, many daffodils emerging, here, there, and everywhere. You can never have too many daffodils. We each won 200 bulbs from Colorblends at the Toronto Garden Bloggers Fling, and we have added many more in addition.

In the backyard, the snow drops have been providing cheer for a month now. Nothing stops them, not rain, sleet, nor snow.

The hellebores had leathery green leaves all through the winter, and when the gardeners carefully cut them back, the plants began to burst into bloom. These blooms and more should go on for months. It’s taken a few years for them to establish themselves, but they are now living their best lives in the raised bed in the backyard.

Here’s my task for the next sunny day. I scrubbed out the bird houses and put them on the patio table to air out (I don’t imagine the birds like their houses to smell of disinfectant any more than I do). (Reading this over, I wondered whether birds have a sense of smell; the answer is here.) Now I need to screw the bottoms back on and hang them up to be ready for families of wrens and chickadees.

I’ll conclude with a brief update on Jason. He’s just started a second round of chemo, after a reprieve of eight months. It’s leaving him pretty tired out. We’re both hoping the fresh spring air and evening sunlight — not to mention the flowers that are coming! — will provide some tonic.

Which signs of spring do you look for most eagerly, and have they already arrived, or are you still anticipating them?

41 Comments on “Rainy Day Update”

  1. Thank you for the update on Jason, and I send prayers and positive thoughts to you both. My family is working its way through a medical challenge right now so I understand. Your gardens are definitely springing forward which is always a boost for the soul of a gardener. My lilacs are just starting to show a little change in their buds which makes me smile for sure.

  2. Good to hear from both of you after a long winter. Hope that Jason will soon finish this round of chemo and come out of it feeling better and more like himself.

    I love spring, it seems that once things begin to emerge there is something new every day to find and exclaim over. Just a few warmish days make a big difference. My big thing is watching the trilliums come up in the shady back corner of our yard. The first one emerged a couple of days ago and I think I see another one just poking it’s nose out but the leaves are not unfurled yet so it might turn out to be something else altogether.

  3. Hello Judy and Jason. Good to hear from you, but sorry Jason is having to undergo more chemo. Good wishes regarding that Jason. I think for once our gardens are at the same stage, with just hellebores and a few early bulbs showing, and I agree, you can never have enough daffodils, or indeed any spring bulb. With some very warm weather forecast I think things could take off here this week though! I am most looking forward to seeing my tulips this year – some botanical ones in the garden, and some frilly parrot tulips planted in pots. And I have just sown my first seeds: some tomatoes, some Ricinus and Tithonia 😉 so am looking forward to seeing signs of them germinating any day now too. Wishing you both some warm spring sunshine!

  4. It is good to hear from you again, Judy, and to have news of Jason. Our daffodils start blooming in mid January, and continue into early April. We have just hit peak daffodil where we are. First sign of spring? When the grass is high enough to mow, which will be this weekend.

    Vegetable seed have been started indoors as of 2 weeks ago. Nights can get fairly cool here, so it will be mid May before anything goes out to the garden.

  5. Oh, thanks for the encouragement! You’re always a bit ahead of me in the spring, so this helps with the hope that more things will soon be blooming. I guess I should remove the old Hellebore leaves…I always hesitate to do so until it’s a bit warmer for an extended period. Next Sunday we’ll have a low of 18, so maybe I’ll do it after that. Cheery thoughts to you and Jason with his next round of treatment.

  6. So glad you have the hackberry and have learned to like it. I sort of discovered hackberries this past year or two as well when the migrating warblers proclaimed them their favorite trees. Thanks so much for the post and the update on Jason. Hugs to you both.

  7. Thank you for the update, and for the encouraging signs of spring. We’re still frozen in MN, but the snow is mostly gone and we’re having spring temperatures at last. I hope the chemo isn’t too difficult, and am glad you’ve got garden helpers.

  8. It’s good to hear from you. Your garden is a little ahead of mine, no crocus blooms here yet. It’s like a treasure hunt. You can never have too many spring flowers. I know it’s really spring when I see bloodroot. Sending positive thoughts and prayers your way.

  9. So good to have an update from you. I’m not a very faithful blogger, but Jason’s always been one of my favourites – I’ve learned so much from him. It’s such good news that you have a gardening team helping out. On top of everything else, would be sad to see your lovely garden deteriorate too much during this tricky time. After weeks of marvelling that the UK gardens are actually ahead of ours in France (I don’t remember this before!) I see that you are at that most hopeful time when everything is really emerging from winter. Enjoy! I am looking forward to shoots coming on the dahlias and my peas germinating (yum, yum!). All the very best to you both!

  10. Many thanks for the update on Jason, my thoughts and prayers are with you both as he goes through more chemo, so glad to hear that you now have help in the garden.Spring has well and truly sprung here and everywhere is so colourful with all the bulbs flowering.

  11. Thanks for the update, both of Jason and yourself, Judy, and the garden, which is looking very much like spring is on the way. I was interested to read about your garden as Jason always wrote so well about various parts of the garden and all the different plants, (I’ve learnt a great deal about plants in the last few years)…. I feel I know it! I was interested to read about the Norway maple because I noticed one in an Arboretum not far from where we live, (Australia) and I thought it seemed a long way from home…but it was thriving.
    Best wishes to you both and I hope the next few months bring many spring flowers, gardens are such a wonderful source of interest and distraction at times like this.

  12. It’s so good to have this update. Best wishes to you both, with a special good wish to Jason for an easy round of chemo. I’ve thought about your tulips from time to time, and hoped we’d get a glimpse of how things are going in your garden. The Hellebores are especially lovely; I always enjoy seeing them, since they’re not a plant that grows here. Dallas, yes. Houston, no!

    I was out roaming all weekend, and we’re on the very verge of spring. I saw my first bluebonnets, and pink evening primroses. Several other native wildflowers are making tentative appearances. We’re getting much needed rain over the next couple of days. That will help.

  13. It was lovely to hear from you both. I wish Jason well with this round of chemo and the family only the best as you go through this together.

    The weather has been what is by now the new normal around here in central IN – weird. Temperatures have been in the 60’s & 70’s so everything is trying to bud or bloom all at once. My magnolia tree looks to be flowering at least 50% today as the temperature reaches 75* but sadly will lose most if not all of that later this week when temps drop to between 28*-32* three nights in a row. The snowdrops are done and the Lenten roses and yellow daffodils are blooming. Tulips and allium stalks are already about 6” tall and will no doubt be nipped by the cold in a few days. Some will make it – some won’t. My rose bushes are all putting out leaves. All my trees (dogwood, tulip, redbud, crabapple) have budded with the exception of the mulberry.

    Last spring we ended up with 3’ of snow in either late March or early April that stunned everything for the week of frigid temps that came with the snow. While I missed not having much snow at all this winter I am hoping that we won’t have a repeat of that spring snowstorm this year.

  14. Happy Spring Jason and Judy! So good to have a report on both Jason and y’all’s gardens. Seeing the early bloomers is so uplifting, isn’t it? All the early bulbs are going full tilt here in western Maryland – snowdrops, crocuses, chionodoxa and scillas, iris reticulatas, and the tiniest daffs. And hellebores are in full bloom too! I’m glad to hear you have garden help lined for the season ahead. I hope this round of chemo is not too debilitating.

  15. So good to hear from you both. Ditto here on hellebores, snowdrops, crocus and daffodils. Just cut back all the clematis, pruned some hydrangeas and staring at my apple tree. I have started a couple hundred plants under lights so, weather or not, spring is here. Good luck on the chemo jason.

  16. Thank You for the Post, Judy. Looks like you’ve got Spring happening everywhere in you garden – the promise has been fulfilled once again. Here in Oregon we’re going from the 50’s and rain today to 79 tomorrow and 70’s for the next four days. Spring is here too! YES! Jason, hang in there buddy, like you always have – Best of Luck!

  17. You have signs of live! Other than a pussy willow, I’m still searching, although I’m trying to stay off the beds as it’s still a muddy mess out there. Sending my love & healing thoughts to Jason – I hope the spring air helps him feel better.

  18. Hello Judy (I presume), it’s lovely to have an update and to hear of what the garden’s been up to lately. It’s interesting about the Norway maples, there’s a stunning light green and cream variegated version that is sold often in garden centres here. I’m wishing Jason all the best courage, strength and success as he heads into the next round of his treatment.

  19. Schwedler maples, which are a cultivar of Norway maple, were popular as street trees in San Jose in the 1950s, but lost popularity as Norway maple became invasive elsewhere. However, it is sterile, and even if it were not, would not be invasive in the chaparral climate of San Jose. The ‘real’ Norway maple is very uncommon though. Someone planted three at work. I have no idea where they came from, but suspect that they were brought from somewhere else. These three happened to generate several seedlings, which now has me concerned. I dug and canned the seedlings, and would like to plant them somewhere, but will only do so where they can not be invasive.

  20. Hello Jason and Judy. So good to hear from you. Spring is always a good tonic. Seeing those promising bits of green popping out of the soil. There are crocus that have been blooming for some time, they are going over. Daffodils are all blooming up a storm. It is fun seeing those clumps of yellow dotted around the garden. Spring beauties will be blooming soon. We have had lots of rain and wind lately. Our big magnolia tree has suffered. The pink petals of the blossoms are strung all around the garden turning brown. It has been an odd beginning to spring here. Several 70 degree days have hasten some plants and bulbs along. We are steeped in mud season.
    Good luck to Jason with his chemo treatments. Blessings and prayers.

  21. Thank you for the update. I’m hoping that Jason is tolerating this round of chemo well. Sending good thoughts your way. Spring is a time of hope and new beginnings, and I’m happy you have help to maintain the garden. Today, where I live in New York State, we are having snow squalls. Eventually, though, spring will win out. Alana ramblinwitham

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