I know it doesn’t feel like it but spring has arrived, despite the cold and wet (dare I say snowy) weather we have been experiencing. I will be the first to admit that when it is this cold I prefer to stay inside and wait for the sun to come out. But despite my reluctance to go digging in the garden, the season continues to march on, stimulated by the increased day length and occasional sun breaks, few and far in between as they have been. Simply put, there is no stopping Mother Nature once she wakes up.
There are many signs in the garden that spring has arrived. A few come to mind as I write this column. First of course is the presence of daffodils, which in my garden have gone from barely emerging to actually showing color in a matter of only two or maybe three weeks at the most. Mind you, these are established clumps of daffodils and they will tend to come up sooner than ones that were freshly planted the previous fall.
Frogs are a sign of spring, specifically our native green tree frog. These little two inch long amphibians fall in love in early March and make an amazing chorus of music in the evenings when the temperatures are in the upper 40’s or higher. The males head for the old watering hole and lure the females in with their mesmerizing songs. Eventually the females lay a mass of eggs on a reed, the males fertilize them and the next generation is started. I love the sounds of a chorus of frogs in the evening.
Birds are also an indicator that spring is here. Robins are one of the earliest arrivals to our spring season. Ironic as it may seem, I saw more Robins in late January than I did in late February this year. Now that we are into March they should be everywhere, hopping around our lawns, cocking their heads as though they are listening for worms, and then magically thrusting their beaks into the turf and pulling out a nice big juicy earth worm. I like to think of them as “worm charmers” that somehow draw the worms to the surface by stomping their feet and singing their songs. Whether they can actually do that or not is debatable but either way they sure are fun to watch.
Another bird that returns to my garden every spring is the red breasted sap sucker. This is a woodpecker that lives in the forest most of the year but comes down to the lowland in spring and drills very organized patterns of holes just into the cambium layer of the bark so that sap flows out. Insects will also get stuck in the sap so that when the sap sucker returns to check its work he will often get some meat with his beverage. For all the perceived damage that these holes create they don’t seem to bother the trees that much. I have a large weeping European Birch and Giant Weeping Sequoia in my front yard that are both riddled with holes and they are growing just fine. Look around your garden and you will probably find other trees that these birds have left their mark on as well.
So take a minute this month to listen to the frogs, watch the birds, and enjoy the signs of spring that take place in the month of March. It’s all part of the fun of gardening.