Early Or Late?

march-20-2009-023-2Every year gardeners all over the world try to decide if spring seems to be developing earlier or later than previous years. One criteria used is the date a certain beloved flower opens. The pink hyacinths just outside our front doorway are a little early this year.march-20-2009-021-2The Yoshino cherry tree inspired a post of its own last year when it was at its peak. Click here to see if it is early or late this go around.march-20-2009-046-2One gauge might be the eruption of life from dormant perennials, like this Pink Vision astilbe along the lower deck wall. It is early.march-20-2009-026-2Fritillaria raddeana was shown in last year’s March bloom day post. That makes it late. Click here to see what else was blooming then.march-17-2009-026-2New plantings don’t count. These blue hyancinths were sold in a pot at Walmart along with tulips in several colors. The bulb tips were just peeking out of the ground when these arrived at the store. I happened to be there as the workers were unloading the truck. That is the very best time to buy at a big box store, for sometimes the follow up care given is not the best. The hyacinths already growing in my garden had progressed to the peeking up stage too, so it seemed the perfect time to pop these out of the pot and into the soil. Seeing where spring color is needed in spring, rather than in the fall when bulbs are planted makes life so much easier.march-20-2009-012-2The grass was cut for the first time this year on March 19. Last year it was March 27, but according to my journal I had the flu last year from March 17 to March 20. Even while sick I moved a bunch of the early daffodils, penstemons and daylilies though.march-20-2009-008-2Tomato plants were purchased from our local nursery, Mouse Creek on April 17, 2008, a week after our last frost date of April 10. Uh oh. Our seed started tomatoes this season are too tall for the cold frame and have been moved inside and out as the weather permits. It seems we will have another two or three weeks more of musical plant moving.march-20-2009-001-2Speaking of being too tall, the cobaea seedlings in the far left of the photo have outgrown the bamboo stakes and grab me as I come and go in the greenhouse/sunroom. Like the tomatoes, in and out is the name of their game until mid April planting time.march-20-2009-kale-010-2Midnight Mystique Black hyacinth was featured in bloom in a post from last year. Click here to see if it is on schedule for this year.march-20-2009-kale-009-2The beginning of the end of the fabulous Redbor kale is signaled by the formation of flower buds. New seedlings are already planted in the ground of this variety, along with the green form Winterbor kale. Next year we will take note of the flowering of the kale as another milestone of spring.march-20-2009-052-2Does it matter the exact date of openings, emergings and mowings from one year to the next? Of course not. What does matter is being able to sit comfortably out of doors and contemplate the next to do chore to add to the task list. Life is good.
Thanks again to good friend Tina, of In The Garden for the Fairegarden plaque.

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38 Responses to Early Or Late?

  1. I thought spring was going to be late because my first crocus was very late, but then everything else is earlier than other years. The most important thing is I’m ready for spring, whether it is early or late.

    Hi Carol, it did seem like late would be the result after a colder winter with sustained frozen ground that is unusual since we have been living in our present house. But you hit the nail squarely about us gardeners being more than ready!

  2. Early or late, I’m chomping at the bit!

    Hi Susan, yes, we are more than ready by the time it arrives, whenever that is. πŸ™‚

  3. ourfriendben says:

    Life IS good, Frances!!! Thanks so much for the refreshing photos. It’s cold and dreary here, but I can see that the gardens are dreaming of spring. Bulbs are emerging and the hellebores, heucheras, etc. are coming into their own. My ultimate “spring-is-here” gauge is the emergence of the bleeding-heart shoots, and I’m still on the lookout for them. Btw, your paphs look great!

    H OFB, thanks. I am with you on the bleeding hearts. I have one slightly up and the rest are no shows. That is a shady spot in the garden that takes forever to get going. I need to get more of those beauties and plant some in the back where spring arrives much sooner with more sun. Thanks about those paphs, they are the apple of my eye. πŸ™‚

  4. Rose says:

    The Yoshino cherry tree against the sky just screams spring to me–beautiful! I think spring has come early here this year, not because of any earlier blooms, but because the weather has been warmer and sunnier this week than I can remember in years. But then I’ve never been good at keeping a gardening journal, so I just get excited every year whenever it does appear:)

    The garden marker from Tina looks perfect at the edge of your garden.

    Hi Rose, thanks so much. It is good to hear your weather is warm and sunny, no matter what is popping up or out. I am a born record keeper, it gives me pleasure to write stuff down, although there are gaps in my pages when things get busy, like grand kids being born and cared for. The photos and blog posts help greatly. I recently moved Tina’s gift and like the placement too. πŸ™‚

  5. Beautiful plants! The Redbud trees are starting to look great around the area. My garden tends to have peak spring bloom in April with the dianthus, lavender, roses and lady banks.


    Hi Cameron, thanks. Your garden sounds like heaven with those plants. Lady Banks has always been something I have admired but fear we are a little too cold for it. My neighbor has a large one on a fence, but it never blooms, late frosts always zap it so I haven’t bothered. Mid to late April is our peak time, when the deciduous Azaleas turn on their love lights! πŸ™‚

  6. gittan says:

    Early or not, spring is allways wellcome! Those Frittelarias I’ve never seen before, they look lovely. The perfect spring for me is early and not to warm since a bit cold makes the blooming last for longer. Every year I hope that my Galanthus along the driveway still will bloom when the early Tulips also planted there blooms. They make a perfect couple together, almost as a brides bouquet. The pictures you show in this post with the view of parts of your garden… it looks so lovely Frances!

    Hi Gittan, thanks. You are so right, we all are crazy for spring, no matter where we live. The Galanthus with your tulips would be a wondrous sight, I hope they manage to be open together. Cool temps help our bulbs last longer too. While we enjoy the warmth, we want the flowers to be open as long as possible. πŸ™‚

  7. walk2write says:

    I enjoyed your retrospective of the cherry tree by clicking on the link. It is good to look backwards every so often and see how far you’ve come in life. It reaffirms the value of what we do and hold dear. Your pic of the plaque from Tina reminds me that I need to post an update of her gift to me.

    Hi W2W, thanks for going back to read the cherry tree post. Now that I have been blogging more than a year, I don’t want to do the same posts everytime something new opens its flowers, but still want to showcase those blooms. Good thing I love a challenge. Dear Tina’s gift is something we do hold dear too. πŸ™‚

  8. Dave says:

    I think a lot of what we have blooming seems early to me. I’ll have to look back to be sure. Our tomatoes are needing repotted in larger pots. Beautiful pictures!

    Hi Dave, thanks. It seems we have some early and some late. But spring is moving forward here with each day. I was thinking of putting the red plastic on the ground where the tomatoes are going to warm it up. I also used the milk jugs with water around things like you suggested, thanks for that tip!

  9. Lythrum says:

    I seem to have stuff earlier too, but my garden is too new to really know yet. Beautiful pictures. πŸ™‚

    Hi Lythrum, thanks. Taking photos and keeping records now will let you know in years to come if things are on time or not. It is fun for some of us to keep track, too much like work for others. πŸ™‚

  10. linda says:

    So exciting getting back out there enjoying the great spring greening!

    Overall here, it seems a bit early. Early or late, always most welcome!

    Hi Linda, yes, it is wonderful to see those green bits among the bulb flowers. Once we pass our last frost date, it is a relief. Up to then, we worry about leaves unfurling too soon and being killed, even mature trees have been killed by early springs and late frosts, a bad combination.

  11. Brenda Kula says:

    Around here we tend to measure things by when the azaleas bloom. This year we should have lots of blooms, due to the rainfall. I just love the scenery around your yard. Looks like a little slice of heaven.

    Hi Brenda, thanks so much. Azaleas are very important here too, although some of the evergreen ones were lost to late freezes and the drought. It looks like a good year from the buds showing now though. Hooray!

  12. tina says:

    Well good morning Frances. I have been so busy I’ve been outside a lot. I like this post as to see how things are progressing. I have been diligent with keeping track of bloom times. I am finding most things the same. But! I have already cut my grass and it is early by at least one week this year. Fairly warm weather, but not too bad as to bring out all the leaves like in 2007. Shudder the thought. Sitting, ah yes. How I’d love to do it. Actually about the only time I can is when it is dark. I sit on my new patio or out front and contemplate the garden. I like your new area. It is new right? Anyhow, have a great day. You are very welcomed for your plaque.

    Hi Tina, good evening. πŸ™‚ Thanks, glad you liked it. I think we both like to keep track of things happening, why, I don’t know. Just for fun, I guess. The new area is the yellow/white garden and the black garden. It had some plantings last year, but we are trying to do more design this year and make it fuller by packing in the plants. The seedlings will help out there. Don’t work too hard, πŸ™‚

  13. Steve says:

    Francis I am getting a kick out of the anxieties of us all – waiting for Spring – which finally seems to be showing up, and not a moment too soon. I was about to start writing nasty letters! Count me in as another one who is terrifically excited about seeing Spring make it;s “real” entrance.

    Hi Steve, so nice to see you. Each year winter seems to drag on a little longer than we think it should! Then at the last minute, when threats of nasty letters are contemplated, here it comes! How funny! πŸ™‚

  14. Monica says:

    I didn’t keep track last year, except by photo dates, but it’s still TOO EARLY here for anything other than crocuses to bloom!!!

    Hi Monica, it will come for you too, sooner than later! Since I started tagging all photos with the date, it makes it so much easier to keep track of bloom times. Other photos only have the month and day but not the year, not wise! πŸ™‚

  15. nancybond says:

    Nature always moves at her own pace, which sometimes surprises us. πŸ˜‰ Things at FaireGarden look wonderful, as always. What a lovely place to sit and think, among the daffodils.

    Hi Nancy, thanks for that. That spot is a favorite, the sun is at my back but still warming, I can hold the hose and water new plantings and think about improvements to those newer beds. It is a joy to do all those things.

  16. Catherine says:

    It looks great there! I think our spring seems late, we still have winter bloomers that haven’t opened. I love the sign, did Tina make it?

    Hi Catherine, thanks. Some things seem late while others are earlier. Each year is different too. Tina made the sign for me last year and brought it with her when she came to my garden. We had never met and she was my first blogging friend visitor to the garden. It went great and we talked as though we were life long friends, not stopping hardly to take a breath. It has great meaning to me.

  17. ryan says:

    I know the feeling of playing musical tomatoes, but that’s so far from our situation here in coastal California. Frost isn’t really a concern, but we are still 6 months from our hottest day. If I plant tomatoes in April they ripen in August, if I plant in May they ripen in August, if I plant in June they ripen in August…

    HA Ryan, I get the picture! Our weather is a little different, with coolness of spring giving way to hot summers very fast. There are tricks, supposedly to getting the tomatoes to ripen earlier, red plastic mulch, water filled jugs around the plants, but it probably matters little. We pick our first tomatoes in June. πŸ™‚

  18. Gail says:

    Hi Frances, Unlike you, Tina and other diligent record keepers…I don’t know what is early or late here! But I am enjoying the spring weather….Your grassy area has caught my eye…a nice juxtaposition against the gravel walk and the pretties under the pine trees. It’s lovely at Fairegarden…inspiring, too. Have a wonderful day! gail

    Hi Gail, why does that not surprise me? HA That was a rare shot of the grass, and it seemed to look pretty with the gravel and shadows. Does that mean I am warming to the thought of grass? The fresh green-ness of it is very spring like. Hope your weekend was full of good stuff! πŸ™‚

  19. Hello Frances

    I think lawn cutting is my barometer for early or late. I put it off for as long as I can without fail each year!

    I play musical chairs with my seedlings which are in a cold frame. If there’s frost forecast, in they come.

    Beautiful photography.


    Hi Rob, thanks. The lawn screaming to be cut is something I have recorded every year, even well before blogging. It issues a new era of growing things. The cold frame is a time saver here, those things can stay safely under the old glass shower door even with light frosts at night.

  20. Your garden is ahead our our garden. I am always encouraged by your garden. I know that if you are showing something blooming etc in your garden it won’t be long until the same is happening in my garden. I think it is fun to look back yearly to see what I was doing in the garden at the same time.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I know you keep good records too, with drawings even! I wish that was something I was able to do, photos are the best we can come up with. πŸ™‚ Your spring should be getting there pretty soon!

  21. Jen says:

    I’m just stunned by that black hyacinth! Wow -lots of pretty things going on there. This is my first year blogging so I’m hoping it will give me a better sense in years to come whether things are happening on time. Things here seem to be happening late this year, but you can only really compare with others in your zone — maybe just your neighborhood! A good reminder to mark these milestones as we go along.

    Hi Jen, thanks. Blogging does help you remember what happened years before as well as if not better than journals. I like to record the first daff bloom, mowing the grass, the first daylily, the cherry tree, the first tomato. Those are momentous things in the garden and fun to see if they are early or late, if one is so inclined. πŸ™‚

  22. easygardener says:

    I don’t keep track of bloom times because I can never get organised. My one concession is to note when the frogs lay frogspawn in the pond. This year none appeared (or so I thought) only to find that clearing the pond recently had allowed the frogspawn to disappear under the water. I had missed the only recorded date of the year!

    Hi EG, it sounds like you can still make an amended entry! It is the photos that help the most with the record keeping. I get great joy in looking at the spring and summer blooms during the depths of winter, it is sort of transporting. πŸ™‚

  23. Sweet post Frances – as I have enough trouble remembering birthdays, mothers days, and have been known to ask “what’s the date of Christmas day?” I would have trouble remembering if things were early or late, unless they got a mention on my blog – but as you say – Life is good.

    HA Karen, thanks. It seems we tend to fall into two groups, the record keepers and the ones who don’t care to do that. Either way, life is indeed very good. πŸ™‚

  24. Barbara says:

    Aren’t digital cameras the best. And, as you’ve shown – one plant, does not a trend make. You have to look at the whole garden….and what better place to do it from than that chair. Thanks for a great time-travel post.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for visiting. I agree, digital cameras have changed my life for the better! Between the camera and the computer, keeping track of the garden is now a joy. I have journals back to 1988, they went back farther but were discarded in one of our many moves. Interesting, but nothing like seeing color photos of the gardens. I am a big sitter in the garden, with chairs here and there for intense studying. I cannot sit for long, but get much pleasure and many ideas from a few minutes of contemplation.

  25. eliz says:

    My friend says it’s more global weirdness than warming, and I agree. Last year it was hot in April, but then it turned cool and rainy. Who knows. Love your hyacinths; I only grow them indoors.

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for dropping by. I posted the hyacinth photos with you in mind. I wanted you to see some in my garden setting. Seeing yours indoors in the lovely pots shows what winter cheer can be. Ours in the beds never fail to bring a smile as well.

  26. Les says:

    I’d rather sit outdoors and comtemplate no chores.

    HA Les, I wondered if anyone would comment on that. Some of us were born to plan, even at rest. I do it in my sleep. It’s my niche. πŸ™‚

  27. Benjamin says:

    How about right on time? My lilies and elm seem to be ahead of schedule, but other things seem late. It’s a wash. All I know is it can’t come soon enough! And some rain would be nice, too.

    Hi Benjamin, so nice to see you. I agree, between the late and the early, it averages out to right on time. We need rain too, but I believe they are calling for some this week?

  28. Jan says:

    It doesn’t seem to matter if spring is early or late; it is here. I think once you need to cut the grass, winter is over.

    Always Growing

    Hi Jan, I agree, it is here and cutting the grass is an excellent measuring device. πŸ™‚

  29. layanee says:

    Last spring frost April 10th? Oh, if I could just extend the season a bit on each end. The shot of the newly mowed lawn with that slant of spring light is encouraging.

    Hi Layanee, well, that’s the official date, but most gardeners around here wait another week of two before putting tomatoes in the ground. While the lawn is not my favorite part of the garden, that photo puts it in the best light. πŸ™‚

  30. commonweeder says:

    Frances, I went back to check and saw that on March 28 we had a BIG snowstorm last year. Yesterday we had snow showers on and off all day, but I noticed rhubarb and daylily shoots pushing through the debris. Autumn crocus shoots right near the house are up, and so are the snowdrops.

    Hi Pat, those late snowstorms can be murder on emerging plants. We have late snows on record, but are much more likely to have an arctic dip of the jetstream for a few more weeks. Most people have supplies of old sheets and blankets and buckets to cover tender plants. Mother Nature likes to let us know she is the one in charge. πŸ™‚

  31. Randy says:

    Our Haycinths didn’t do a thing this year. I was so disappointed. That’s okay, out with the old and in with new.

    Hi Randy, that is too bad about your hyacinths. Some of ours are better than others. But we have no problem sticking those prepotted jobs in the ground to supplement. They are returned better than some of the fall planted ones even.

  32. Sweet Bay says:

    I wish I could keep a journal but somehow it just doesn’t happen. So I use Elizabeth Lawrence as a reference instead. Her mother always kept a journal. It seems that the standard deviation is about two weeks either way — pretty large, lol.

    Hi Sweetbay, I like that, you using Elizabeth Lawrence. Much better than my scribbles that cannot be deciphered half the time. HA

  33. Jean says:

    Things are really looking spring-like in your garden, hooray! No, it really doesn’t matter when, so long as things come up. Good luck with your musical plants. That must be a lot of work. I planted out my tomato yesterday! I’m still looking for one more tomato plant and wishing I had room for more.

    Hi Jean, thanks. Tomato planting is a huge marker of spring! Good luck with yours, and finding another. So many varieties are available now, many more than even five years ago.

  34. Weeping Sore says:

    Bulbs are magic, aren’t they? I’ve got a big pile of naked ladies with their green leaves and no flowers. I keep forgetting to dig ’em up and divide them. Your bulbs look like they get a bit more attention than mine.

    Hi WS, there is nothing like a bulb to show us the miracle of plant growth. I love those naked ladies, but some years are better than others for the blooms, which come in late July for us. Maybe more fertilizer? I try and take care of them, and love to divide things. πŸ™‚

  35. kerri says:

    That’s the first time I’ve seen lawn at Fairegarden, Frances. What a great long shot! I loved the longer shots of the early Rijnveld Daffs too. What a wonderful spring garden you have! Your love and hard work are very evident. I’m wondering just how often you sit in that chair and contemplate the next chore. πŸ™‚

    Hi Kerri, thanks. Yes, there is a small bit of lawn to appease The Financier and give the grandkids a place to play. I try to sit a minute or two every day that the temps are warm enough. Not for long, but regularly. πŸ™‚

  36. Maranta says:

    I admire your record-keeping and find this kind of thing fascinating. I seem to move to a slightly different microclimate every year, so I can never establish what’s normal or abnormal (plus, here in the Northwest, Spring peaks out and is summarily obliterated by an insurgence of Winter about 15 times a year, so we never really know when it’s safe to cry “Spring!”).

    Hi Maranta, thanks and welcome. Every year is different, it’s true, that is the fun of it for us obsessive record keepers. We have a series of winters here in early spring with names for what is blooming at the time. Blackberry winter, dogwood winter are two that I know of, but there are more. Planting of certain crops does not occur until those requisite winters have come and gone. I loved your ivy piece. πŸ™‚

  37. Hi Frances! The only event I chart religiously is the annual arrival of a pair of ducks in our pond. They came a week earlier than last year and the earliest since 2004. Our snow melted almost two weeks earlier than last year (though we didn’t have quite as much of it).

    Hi Linda, that is a great way to mark the season change. Things seem early here too. I hope spring takes a leisurely stroll rather than race to summer though. πŸ™‚

  38. Racquel says:

    So true Frances. Whether things are early or late I love the milder days we’ve had lately. It’s been nice being back in the garden again. πŸ™‚

    Hi Racquel, thanks. It has been nice, although a whole lotta rain just now. No complaints about rain, ever! We always fear those late frosts as the Japanese maples start to leaf out after the horrors of 2007.

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