Pretend It’s Spring

I just wrote and deleted a lengthy paragraph dedicated to complaining about the snow that came and went and came again and the lack of snow that has been the nattering gossip of the 2011/2012 winter season, but then I deleted it because COME ON…

I wonder, does obsessing about the weather come with being a gardener or does it simply provide me with an excuse to voice it? I’ve been a gardener for so long now that I no longer recall what I complained or obsessed about in the years BC (Before Cultivation).

All I know is that I woke up this morning, looked out the window and decided that a springtime picture was the order of the day.

Those of you living in warmer temperate climates will already be soaking in the colours of spring; however, in these parts, fields of blooming violets do not appear until April or as late as May. When they show up depends on their location and the conditions that year. Again, I am finding myself slipping back into talk of the weather.

But this brings up an interesting point about the effect of weather on bloom times. A quick search on this site reminded me that I often begin looking for the violets that bloom on a hillside nearby around mid-April. But the violets I inherited with my yard did not make their full appearance until the end of the month and into May. Indeed, last spring stayed cool later than usual, and the violets in my yard lived in a location that did not receive the same exposure as the hillside violets. Those that I have planted at my community garden plot are always later still because I took advantage of their use as a shade-tolerant perennial and have them planted where few other edibles will grow.

This obsessing about the weather and location that we do as gardeners has its merits. It offers insight into ways we can break the zone rules (planting in spots that are less, or more affected by fluctuating weather patterns), and can even help us in choosing varied planting locations for the same crop as a strategy for staggering the harvest. As a result, I practically get two seasons of colourful, and tasty violet flowers to enjoy!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “Pretend It’s Spring

  1. Our last frost date here in St. John’s NL is June 2. June 2! It’s -22 with the wind chill here today. Just thought I’d throw that out there to make everyone in Canada feel better about their weather.

  2. I think weather obsession comes with the territory. I’m struggling with the opposite right now. It’s been such a ridiculously mild winter here that I’m toying with jumpstarting spring planting. But seems sooo risky!

  3. Your violets are a hopeful sight!

    I have never been as aware of how bloom times can change from year to year as I am this season. My earliest flower – Crocus tommasinianus – is a full month ahead of what it was last year (last year was typical timing for these in my garden). I didn’t think they’d respond so dramatically to our unusually warm weather… But happy to see them, I certainly am.

  4. I had a little violet out back that I found a few weeks ago. It had a small bloom on it, even. Hardy little suckers, some of them.

  5. The weather down here is fabulous and has been all “winter”. Which causes me to think we are in for a miserable, hot summer.

  6. Our average last frost date is March 17th, but mid-April is safer :-) I don’t know how much I followed the weather before I started to garden, but I know I’m more aware of it now!

  7. Thank you for this post. I was getting depressed because of the lack of color here even though many fellow gardeners in other places are getting eyefulls of colors.

  8. Can you eat the flowers raw? What about the leaves? After the last semi thaw I noticed my entire 2 acre yard isn’t grass it is violets, chickweed, burdock and garlic mustard!

  9. I’ve never found an accurate “last frost date” for my region because I live in the suburbs of Paris and every gardening book here doesnt seem to care about that. All advice here comes in a form of, “these are the sowing months but compare to current year weather then decide.” It’s been a warm winter (except the first two weeks of February) and the bulbs are coming up, but the spring flower explosion is another two or three weeks away…

  10. My first daffodil bloomed in February. It’s the first I can remember. Scary. All of the crocus are in bloom and many are already finishing. I’ve managed to keep things alive in the garden I usually can not- rosemary and a nicotiana for example. (Illinois- east side of St Louis).

  11. If you love to garden, you dream about spring all winter long & yes, I think obsessing about the weather is just par for the course, it’s just what we do. When March hits & there’s a snow storm (here in Winnipeg, Canada) you’ve gotta pretend it’s spring… hence my purchase of Primrose/Primula today. Gayla, I’m sorry to hear this is not one of your favorites (see March 2010 post). Your blog has kept me sane this winter & I was a bit disappointed to read your dislike for the “Primy” primroses … for me, they are the VERY 1st sign that spring is right around the corner. Even if it is a blizzard outside. I think you should give ‘em a 2nd chance. I buy mine for a few bucks at the grocery store & plant them outside as soon as the ground is workable & so far, they always come up the following spring.

  12. You actually plant violets! Here in Atlanta, GA they are extremely invasive-it’s not uncommon to see whole vacant lots covered in violets. That being said, how can you eat them? I may have discovered a new spring snack…

  13. Winter has only arrived in the past two weeks here just outside of Winnipeg, MB. More than a foot of snow. In January I was scraping snow off the lawn onto my flower beds to protect them. It’s been a crazy winter. We are forecast to be above zero for several days again by the weekend. Sigh. We get frost until the end of May, so I’ll be ordering my seeds soon and starting them next month.

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