Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Great Spring Awakening has been put on hold.

Forsythia, not yet fully out

Since 1996 I have been keeping careful gardening records, noting the exact date each year when a plant blooms. There's about a 2-3 week range depending on how hard the winter, how cold the spring. The first species crocus can come as early as the second week of February or the first week of March.

In February and the first 3 weeks of March it’s easy to keep up with the record keeping. Then sometime in the last week of March or the first or second week of April there is a great explosion of bloom and I have trouble recording it all.

I thought we were on track for a late March awakening but for the past week we’ve had unseasonably cold weather and even a light dusting of snow.

The forsythia which is usually fully out by the last week of March isn’t quite there yet. And daffodils have been in a state of suspended animation, on the brink of opening for about a week.

I’m more impatient than ever this year—probably one consequence of retirement. When I was working, I was so burdened with grading student papers that I didn’t have time to obsess about my tardy spring bulbs.

Unfortunately, Spring comes a little later to my Mt. Airy neighborhood than to other parts of Philly. We are about 400 feet above sea level (or so an insurance adjuster once told us); in colonial times Mt. Airy was where folks built their summer homes to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of the Delaware Valley. When I get off the train at Mt. Airy Station in the dog days of August, it can feel as much as ten degrees cooler than in Center City. So our microclimate has its advantages.

But now when we drive downtown and see the River Drive carpeted with daffodils and the magnolias almost fully out--they're only in bud in Mt. Airy--I get a little envious.
Quince on the brink of bloom

Looks like I’ll probably have to make do with buds for another week.


  1. Strange is the new normal for weather, it seems. We were hitting highs in low eighties a couple of days ago. Today? Low forties, with thunder, rain, fog...feels like February!

    I put in a scattering of vegetables amongst my flowers and herbs...I hope my new babies will be okay in this mess.

    Spring has never entirely let us down, yet, so hang in there.

  2. It feels like we're stumbling with our arms outstretched toward spring while it keeps receding. This morning I'm listening to birdsong and watching the snow fall. We live in hope!

  3. Snow in April is too cruel! Maybe it's the cruelest month after all.