How Hardy Souls Wait for Spring

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

It only took two mild Februaries to seduce this cold climate gardener into thinking an early spring was the new normal–even when last February’s mildness turned into three feet of snow in mid-March, and the February before that (winter of 2015-2016) segued into an April where the temperature dropped to -3°F (-19°C) one night, decimating my Japanese maple and four hardy yews. All I seem to remember is snowdrops blooming in February and the soil thawed so deeply that I was dividing perennials in March.

gardening March 27 2016

It’s easier to remember that I was dividing perennials on March 27th than to remember it was followed by sub-zero temperatures the following week.

So when the end of this February was mild enough that I could weed out the grass from the snowdrops around the wellhead, of course I expected it to thaw even further in March.
snowdrops around wellhead

If I can pull the grass out from the edges, surely spring is on the way?

17 inches of snow

I couldn’t have been more mistaken. We got 17 inches of snow the first week of March.

March 12 septic tank

And every time the snow melted off from over the septic tank, we got another several inches of snow.

It’s demoralizing.

But cold climate gardeners are hardy souls, resilient in the face of adversity and prepared for setbacks before winter is gone for good.

snowdrops in vase

When I heard the big storm was coming, I picked these snowdrops for the house.

They are ‘S. Arnott,’ which is known for its fragrance–and early bloom.
forced hyacinths

I also fortified myself with forced hyacinths.

These came from Aldi’s, and each bulb had two blooms. Of course I will save the vases to force with some bulbs of my own next winter.
sweet nymph amaryllis

‘Sweet Nymph’ amaryllis obliged me by opening up four blossoms, one after the other.

I can’t say enough good things about these ‘Nymph’ amaryllis that Longfield Gardens sent me a few years ago. This amaryllis had just bloomed in December, and it’s now sent up another flower stalk–with four flowers–in March. I didn’t even fertilize it in between. And my other two ‘Nymphs’ also have flower stalks emerging.
Mama and baby orchid

The big orchid is from a few years ago, and the miniature orchid arrived on Valentine’s Day.

They almost look like mama orchid and baby orchid, don’t they? The miniature orchid didn’t seem to hold onto its flowers for very long. I don’t know if that’s typical for the wee ones, or if it didn’t like the change of scenery.

And my clivia continues to put on a show.

Meanwhile, I check the ten-day forecast every day for signs of a warming trend, and I’ve been getting out in the sunshine wearing snowshoes. I cling to the thought that spring flowers grow under the snow, even as I scan the horizon for the first sign of spring. And guess what? The snow is melted off the septic tank once again!

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.

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.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Mike March 26, 2018, 5:23 pm

That amount looks insane!…hopefully we have seen the last of it now, Kathy!

Jean C. March 20, 2018, 8:09 am

I’m not coping well. Two days ago, here in Boise, Idaho, we had rain, snow, hail and sleet. All in one day. Spring will get here, I know, but I’m so ready! In the meantime, I’ve been online looking at flowers, flowers, and more flowers!

Kathy Purdy March 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Yes, back in the good ‘ol days we had to rely on books and magazines for our garden porn. Now it’s more easily accessible online.

Linda March 19, 2018, 8:42 pm

Doing a little better here but too early to work or do any cutting back.

Maria March 19, 2018, 7:20 pm

Thank goodness for longer days (and occasional sunshine) and maple sugaring this time of year! We still have 2 feet of snow on the ground where I live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and so it will be quite a while before I get to garden for real. To cope, I helped host a gardening workshop this past weekend and got lots of great ideas from more advanced gardeners. Hang in there– and happy equinox!!

Kathy Purdy March 19, 2018, 7:29 pm

Happy Equinox to you, too! It’s not anywhere near the first day of spring!

Dee March 19, 2018, 7:49 am

Hang in there hardy soul. As I’m puttering around the garden (really working like a field horse, but whatever), I am constantly thinking about how a freeze could set all of this back. It’s nearly inevitable, but I still work on.

About the mini-orchids, mine don’t seem to hold onto their blooms too long either. ~~Dee

commonweeder March 19, 2018, 6:58 am

I’m almost embarrassed to say we have no snow on the ground. We didn’t get as much as surrounding towns and then, magically, what we got melted more quickly than expected. I think it must have evaporated because it has been cold and getting colder, but windy. Will spring really arrive this week?

Deborah Banks March 18, 2018, 2:54 pm

Inspiring photos! I forced some daphne branches about 3 weeks ago (already come and gone), and we have a begonia in bloom, but otherwise not much cheer inside or out here. BTW I quoted you and cited your blog in my latest column in the quarterly New Franklin Register. It should be out any day now – you can see it online (soon) at

Kathy Purdy March 18, 2018, 4:35 pm

Thank you for the mention!

Pam March 18, 2018, 2:51 pm

Looking a little bit like spring despite the cold temps …on Long Island ..hoping for no more snow….Pam

Jane Rutkowski March 18, 2018, 12:06 pm

We still have snowdrifts nearing 5 feet at the end of our driveway. Thankfully, the next storm is supposed to be south of us. Thank you, God. It’s warm and cozy inside and I still have my african violets to keep me company. Last week I bought cut tulips and baby’s breath and made a few nice bouquets. If I can’t have my flowers outside … at least I can enjoy some inside. 🙂

Joanne March 18, 2018, 11:10 am

Yes, we are waiting for two feet of snow to melt in the gardens so we can begin to even think about spring clean up. I have a feeling this will be a late year for planting.

Kate in Vermont March 18, 2018, 8:50 am

Snow still knee deep, even over the septic, here in eastern Vermont. Looks like this week’s nor’easter will give us a miss, though, so perhaps by April we will have snowdrops 🙂 Given how cold it is right now I am glad the garden has a nice thick layer of snow on it….

I am huddled by the fire looking at garden blogs and dreaming of spring.

Lisa at Greenbow March 18, 2018, 6:50 am

Oh Kathy, it seems that Mother Nature is messing with you. I think we gardeners just want the weathers to go our way. It will happen, eventually. Meanwhile take heart in your indoor blooms. My experience with those little orchids is that they bloom the same amount of time as the large ones. Your little cutie might have been too cold coming home or some time before you got it. Hang in there girl.

Frank March 17, 2018, 9:13 pm

We just have to hang in there I guess… sounds pretty brave considering I’m nearly a zone warmer than you and we’re starting to see some lawn appear again.
The sun does seem stronger at least, I miss that most of all in the winter months.

Leslie March 17, 2018, 9:00 pm

I hope it melts for good soon but at least in the meantime you have some lovely blooms!