March 6, 2023
Now that the patio storm door is installed, we are ready for inclement weather. While we did have freezing temperatures several weekends during February it has only dipped into the mid 30’sF (1’sC) once since. March forecasts indicate the temps will range from the mid 50’sF (10’sC) to low 70’sF (20’sC) during the day and while there are a few days of 30’sF (1’sC) and 50’sF (10’sC) it should stay in the 40’sF (4.5’sC) all month. The warmer temperatures have been met by the Naked Lady Lilies (Amaryllis belladonna) foliage in the back yard and the daffodils (Narcissus spp.) in the front. The Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) always seems to arrive early, but we also have a Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) crowding alongside the daffodils in the front bed. Even though spring does not officially arrive in 2023 until March 20th (5:24 PM EDT), my yard and flowers are all saying it is Spring.
When I looked online, I found a website identifying the 16 flowers that are the earliest to arrive in Spring for growing zones 2a-7a (i.e., America). The second and third on the list were the Daffodil and the creeping phlox (Pholox stolonifera) that Melissa’s mom had planted in the front bed. The flowers are trumpet shaped and generally yellow, but varieties can be white, orange, red, and pink. They are a hardy flower that prefers full sun or partial shade. They prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil. Daffodil flowers can be toxic to humans and pets if ingested. The Creeping Phlox is a low-maintenance ground cover that bears small blossoms in dense clusters and is often massed on an inclined bank to make a powerful landscaping statement. Phlox requires weekly watering and is not very drought tolerant. Like the daffodil, phlox also prefers full or partial sun and well-drained soil. Varieties can include red, white, blue, pink, rose, lavender, purple, and variegated flowers. The small flowers in our bed are white.
I have mentioned how the front bed was the site of a dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) framed by a lush phlox groundcover and punctuated by daffodils and hyacinths during the spring. The phlox had died back after years of neglect (i.e., watering) and two years ago Melissa decided to make this a showcase bed for her succulents. None of the large aloe vera planted nor the decorative hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) groupings survived the first winter. Last winter we placed plant cloth over the bed for warmth and then plastic to protect the plants when it rained or snowed. That seemed to work and although we again lost several plants, most survived. Last Fall we set out ground cover mats around the back of the maple that contained varieties of sedums. When the cold arrived in December I again covered the sedum mats and the aloe plants. Now that Spring is here, I need to remove the covering and see the shape of the beds. We will see how the plants fared.
THOUGHTS: Removing the covers from the succulents is a time of hope and expectation that comes with Spring. I never really know what to expect until the ground cloth is removed and the accumulated debris swept away. Spring is also a time for hope and expectation in nature. The hibernating animals begin to revive and venture back into the world. The first mosquito has been bussing around in my office and the flies are now coming inside when Melissa leaves the back door open. As flora and fauna spring back to life some things will be much the same, but others may be drastically different. It depends on how much damage humans have done to the environment while nature rested. Chief Seattle, a 19th century Native American of the Duwamish Tribe, is quoted as saying, “take only memories leave only footprints.” This is still good advice 175 years later. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.