Is it spring yet?

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

How do you decide that spring has finally arrived? What signs tell you that the wait is over? At our old house, seeing the leafless branches of the trees on the hillside turn red from swelling buds was our certain sign that spring had arrived.

early spring hillside

The red tinged trees on the hillside signal spring’s beginning

It was confirmed by coltsfoot blooming and peepers peeping.
Coltsfoot flowers bloom next to dandelion leaves

Coltsfoot flowers are the earliest blooming wildflower.

While it is difficult at our new home to get a good look at a hillside without taking a walk or a drive, we have a new sign to add: the emergence of the wild leeks.
wild leeks, or ramps

Wild leeks, also known as ramps, emerge very early in spring.

Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) never grew on the land of our old home. They are supposed to flower later in the year, but I didn’t ever see flowers last year, even though I made a point to look for them.

I checked back with the Nature Calendar, to see how her seasonal divisions compared to what I have been actually observing here. Conclusion: things change fast around here, and seasons overlap. Earlier this week, I was debating whether it was the end of Mud Season, or the beginning of Crocus Season, as the snowdrops still looked good and the crocuses had finally started blooming.

small early crocuses

These are the crocuses I planted last November

Today the first daffodils opened–and the first bloodroot, making this Daffodil Season. According to Janice Goldfrank’s calendar, this is when the wild leeks appear and the peepers start peeping. But both of those started before the daffodils did. For that matter, the coltsfoot was blooming before the crocuses.

So, yes, it is spring, but a rather compressed one, I’d say. Of course, since this is the first year for the daffodils and the crocuses, they are blooming a little later than they might if they were well established. And really, only the earliest daffodils have started. It will be interesting to compare with next year. Cold climate gardeners, are your signs of spring much different from mine?

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.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

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Diane C April 23, 2013, 6:02 pm

I expect we’ll be getting leaves on the trees any day now. I spent the weekend sweeping up all those little red protective caps the trees use to shield the buds in winter. I got a bucket and a half of them from the driveway alone.

Cassidy April 22, 2013, 10:59 pm

Just found your blog and I’m definitely going to keep stopping by! Living in Utah I definitely need some cold weather gardening help! Spring is just starting to show here.

Joene at Joene's Garden April 22, 2013, 12:49 pm

You have ramps … I’m jealous.

GailG April 21, 2013, 3:28 pm

Winter has been slow to leave Michigan this year, but for us the first signs of spring are finally showing. The robins are here – the juncos left in the last few days, my Hellebores are blooming and the tree buds are swelling and turning red. Time to start the winter clean up.

Joanne Toft April 21, 2013, 11:33 am

In Minnesota ( Minneapolis to be exact) spring has not yet arrived. We had another large snow fall ( 6 to 7 inches) and up north it was even more. Robins have arrived in great numbers put few plants in the city have come out of the ground. If your garden is close to a house and facing south you might see a few green sprouts. The woods are in deep mud or snow so have not gone for my usual “spring” walk to look for the wild plants. Will keep you posted when spring finds Minnesota.

Les April 20, 2013, 6:17 pm

My go-to omen that spring is on its way is the flowering of red maple (Acer rubrum). Although it does not say “spring is here” it does let me know it is on its way.

Derek Yarnell April 20, 2013, 4:19 pm

Given I am in a new province, zone and yard it will be very interesting to see if my first signals of spring remain unchanged. I’ll be sure to take note when I feel it has officially arrived.

Jason April 20, 2013, 2:28 pm

Spring is very slow here as well. I like your crocuses.

Donna@Gardens Eye View April 20, 2013, 2:21 pm

More and more shows daily…still can’t get out to clean the rest of the garden though as it is still flooded.

Aaron April 20, 2013, 6:54 am

Here in London, tell tale signs of arrival of springs are similar, trees and plants start blossoming paving the way for riot of colors to follow very soon, birds return from the warmer climes to rejoice in their natural habitat and evenings become less dark and gloomy.

Rodrica April 20, 2013, 5:48 am

Here in Dummerston (just north of Brattleboro, VT) I’m pretty much in lockstep with you. Also having moved from a garden I established, my bulb displays may be paltry by comparison to the old garden, but they are a delight…every tiny bloom and skinny shoot is noticed and treasured by me as I wander around pondering future plantings.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker April 19, 2013, 11:28 pm

Good things come in their own time. it nice to see the first signs.

Deirdre in Seattle April 19, 2013, 10:24 pm

Spring here is very long and very slow. So slow, the changes are almost imperceptible. It starts around Goundhog’s day with the early bulbs, and ends around the Fourth of July when it finally warms up in to the seventies consistently.