Maine springs are uncertain times.
Warm, sunny, snowy, windy… all are encompassed in April here.
Last week I was able to enjoy my lower 40 with its early Crocus.
The true plural of crocus is not Crocus or Crocuses, but Croci,
though no one uses it.
Think of the plural of hippopotamus… it is hippopotami.
They were opened and enjoying the sun,
while I enjoyed them!
Years ago I planted a lot of Crocus together.
I wanted a long bloom period,
so I put in some early species with later blooming hybrids,
to get a long bloom period.
I love the delicate species Crocus.
Across the driveway, the Chionodoxa were also blooming.
The Chionodoxa is part of the Scilla family.
There is nothing delicate about this bulb!
It is a workhorse.
It blooms early with masses of flowers,
seeds itself around,
and multiplies with bulblets!
And it has a very long bloom time
It grows in everything from pure scree to grass.
When I see it, I know spring has arrived!
The parade of spring bulbs had started! Spring was here!
On Thursday a storm blew in, and I mean blew!
There is nothing like a Nor’easter!
A Nor’easter comes in from over the ocean,
carrying either wet snow or heavy rain,
with high counter clockwise winds.
And this is what hit us just before Easter weekend.
It dropped 8″ of very heavy wet snow on us. And, I mean heavy… it was like cement!
There were smashed shrubs, downed trees, and downed power lines.
A Nor’easter with snow will coat every twig with snow.
It can be extremely beautiful.
And, it can be extremely destructive.
But, as I drove to work, I thought this is really winter’s farewell…
Right after the snowy Nor’easter,
which knocked out power for many,
we had another one,
only it was rain and wind.
It also knocked out power.
But, the Chiondoxa were unfazed!
The large Crocus hybrids showed up soon after.
The Dutch hybrid Flower Record
is a showy thing,
especially in large groups!
Bold and beautiful, it is set off by the white wire edge along the flower petals.
The next bulbs to come were the
small, delicate Scilla mischtschenkoana.
This used to be Scilla tubereniana ;
why it has been renamed? I have no idea.
This has naturalized in the lawn,
and has formed clusters of the delicate flowers.
The delicate flower are on wiry stems that
sway and tremble with every breath of air.
Down below the house the
Primula vulgaris are in full bloom.
As many of you know,
this is my favorite spring perennial.
It forms nice colonies, withstands everything the weather throws at it,
and blooms for about six weeks!
Down in the meadow they are interspersed with
Scilla siberica that has naturalized,
making a lovely patch of spring.
The Scilla siberica is probably one of the bluest garden plants.
It rivals gentian!
It naturalizes easily.
Here it is with some of the white variety,
Scilla siberica alba.
I have seen this thickly carpeting the ground under trees-
it is truely breath taking.
Next upon the scene are the first Muscari,
or grape hyacinth.
By planting several varieties,
one can continue the displays of blues.
Try mixing the Chiondoxa, Scilla siberica, and Muscari together.
One can have a multicolored carpet of blues.
A small corydalis makes patches of violet.
This small plant grows in deep shade and full sun,
on one inch of soil on granite ledge,
and in the grass in the meadow.
It is fleeting, as it is an ephemeral.
The shrub Pieris japaonica is the earliest shrub to bloom in my yard.
I love the racemes of small bells.
The bulbs and flowers are one sign of spring.
But, another are sounds.
Throughout all of this one becomes aware of sounds one has not heard for a long time.
There is the sound of running water from snow melt,
as it tumbles down the hill, flows under the road and makes it way to Great Salt Bay
or to a marsh and then to the river.
There is the sound of white throated sparrows
and the cry of of the ospreys.
And, then the sound we all wait for-
the sound of the tree frogs!
That incessant peep peep peep
that starts up in the evening and lasts til dawn!
Once one hears that people know spring has finally come!
And, with a little warmth,
leaves unfurl, and
a veil of green slowly emerges.