The grass is green: Spring is here; Mud Season over

– Posted in: Mud Season

And though one has begun to search for signs of spring almost since January, and to receive them, like postcards sent on a long voyage to home, it is with the greening of the grass that spring has, finally, certainly arrived.

It wasn’t until I read A Year at North Hill : Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden by Wayne Winterrowd and Joe Eck that I made the connection between the greening of the grass and the frost finally being out of the ground. Grass doesn’t grow in frozen soil, and neither does rain percolate down into the frozen earth. Consequently, when you see the lawn greening up, as it did earlier this week, it is the end of mud season and the true beginning of spring.

And yesterday the lawn was mowed for the first time.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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Kathy Purdy May 7, 2007, 6:12 am

When you say “ferny looking ground cover” two plants come to mind: yarrow and tansy. Do you have a picture on your blog? I had the same situation when I moved in here over 15 years ago. It was a lot of fun seeing what would come up, but there were some head scratchers, too.

kelly May 6, 2007, 5:48 pm

Hey Kathy,

Yes, it sure is an annual, and I forgot that. That must explain why I was so surprised to see anything growing there, though I’m not yet sure that’s actually what it is…could be a bit of some ferny looking ground cover I’ve yet to identify. Have only been here for almost a year, and still so much to learn about the plants the previous owner planted.

Bob Ewing May 4, 2007, 10:23 am


Kathy Purdy May 4, 2007, 10:11 am

Hmmm. Would that be Zone 3 in USDA Hardiness Zones?

Bob Ewing May 4, 2007, 9:21 am

While the temperature is warming and the crocuses are blooming there is still very little green here in Northern New Brunswick. The buds have begun to appear on the hedges and trees but the grass is still winter brown.

Ki May 4, 2007, 7:25 am

The smell of freshly mown lawn is just great but I sure don’t like the care and feeding needed to have a great looking lawn. I’m getting rid of as much lawn as I can by expanding the planting beds. Just a little patch to smell the cut grass is fine with me. πŸ™‚

I too never thought of the greening to be a sign that the ground was not frozen anymore. Very astute observation. Now that you’ve mentioned it , it seems so obvious! Earlier in the Spring I was digging some holes for some bareroot birches and was amazed to find ice and frozen soil about 5 ” thick under the mulch even when we had two days of warm 50-60 degree days.

Dawn May 3, 2007, 11:16 am

How well I remember the relief we felt on our farm when the grass finally turned green in Spring. I’m going to put “A Year at North Hill” on my ‘to read’ list for sure.

(BTW Kathy, my son was born May 20th as well. A most excellent birth day!)


Kathy Purdy May 3, 2007, 6:16 am

I don’t keep as good records as Carol, but one year I had a baby on May 20th. When I left for the hospital, all the trees were still bare. When I came home, they had all leafed out. In Britain, snowdrops are considered a late winter flower, and mine bloom in March! We are not near any large body of water that would moderate the temperatures, and we are about a thousand feet up, so we are colder than both the Finger Lakes to the west and the Hudson River valley to the east.

I agree, the light is wonderful at this time of year. But I always thought Nigella was an annual, though it often self-sows where it’s happy. At any rate, it’s happy at your garden.

Annie in Austin May 2, 2007, 8:15 pm

When I read this it seemed so logical in light of my experience in Illinois, Kathy – with the grass as the signal that the ground had totally defrosted. Your winter seems longer than what I remembered.

For St Augustine grass in Texas, the greening seems to have more to do with a combination of adequate moisture and warmer overnight temperatures.

I think Carol has mowed her lawn more times this spring than I have!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Christa May 2, 2007, 5:38 pm

I never made the connection between green grass and a frost-free ground either. It makes complete sense. I just never thought about it until I read your post. I learn so many little tidbits from other garden bloggers.

Carol May 2, 2007, 5:21 pm

It is so wonderful, isn’t it, to know you’ve made it through another long winter. I did not know how long winter really lasted in Zone 4 until I read your blog. You are hardy folk to go through that each year!

kelly May 2, 2007, 9:35 am

it’s so luscious and glowing out there. My favorite bit of green popping up right now? This morning I noticed the blue Nigella that I bought at the farmer’s market last summer pushing up little fronds in the mulch. I’m amazed it made it through our desperately hot summer and then such hard freezes this winter.

Our grass was cut on the weekend and in the sunrise this morning, after a long, light rain last night, looked as if lit from within.