First flower

March 30, 2023

Richard Burke

First bloom: Squill.

This slow-developing spring can wear on a gardener’s patience. All the garden planning, indoor seed-planting and apple-tree pruning helps. But, there’s nothing like the first flower of the spring to heighten the spirits and spur the belief that the 14-day weather forecast may just be right – double-digit positive temperatures extending past next week.

Last week, on a rare, warmer-than-expected afternoon, after the pruning shears got a short workout on the Honeycrisp apple tree and a couple of shrubs whose branches had been broken off  by clumsy deer, I brought out the rake to clean up the side yard. Hepatica, which are usually the first to bloom, were largely buried under leaves. After the spruce-up, the Hepatica leaves, gorgeous on their own, stood up like they couldn’t wait. Problem is, by next day, deer had jumped the gate and browsed in the hepatica bed. Grrrr.

That led to a further temporary fix to heighten the gate – obviously hanging a large wind chime from the gate arbour was no deterrent.

Down the garden path, to the warmest part of the yard, more evidence of deer on the tulips, whose leaves had been neatly clipped. Grrr. Hoping the buds hadn’t started to form yet.

Of course, my impatience comes not just from the deer, which I have plans to deal with by moving some plants off the front yard into the back behind a taller gate, but the slow-melting piles of snow and cool weather that delays digging. A new section of fencing really should be done before most plants start to green up. And there are roses and other shrubs and perennials to move from the front to the back before the sap flows, if possible.

So, the wait goes on, although it’s satisfying tending the new seedlings in the greenhouse for 10-minutes a day.

Then yesterday, I spotted some colour in the bed near the foundation of the garage’s south wall. It was Siberian Squill, or sapphire star, which we had transplanted a number of years ago from our daughter’s yard in Elkford. It’s a toss-up every year which will shine first – Hepatica, crocus or squill. The squill won out in 2023, but the Hepatica and crocus won’t be far behind.

Tulipa will bloom in the next couple of weeks.

The tulips shorn by deer were planted beside a different tulip variety, tulipa, which seems to get overlooked by deer. Our plan is to plant more of those when we can find them. Their blooms are close to the other three.

What early bloomers have you noticed in your yard?

Hurry up, Spring.

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