BOS 05 04 2022 doublesize
Down the road, a forsythia is in full bloom. It stands a sun-bright yellow out in the open. Mine is only starting to bloom. Close to the house, the blooms are bright. The others are just beginning to show yellow. I am curious because mine is against a south facing wall, a place I consider a heat sink all summer. The one down the road is in the open.

To figure this out, I had to think about other factors than light, the heat of the sun. Down the road, the forsythia is protected by cedar trees from the wind off the water. Mine is in a cold wind tunnel when the wind comes from the east. And we've had a lot of east winds.

It's been a bit of a strange spring. During syrup season, it got warm and stayed warm. Then, it got cold and stayed cold. Few of the cold nights and warm days that bring the best flow. One producer I talked to had about eighty percent of a full crop. Another said that the last weekend of the season was brought them up to a full crop.

When the snow melted, a few tiny lily sprouts were visible pushing aside the protective covering of maple leaves. Soon daffodil leaves showed themselves. The lilies got to about eight centimeters and paused. The daffodils have grown steadily but very slowly. The small yellow ones bloomed first, then a patch in the backyard came along. The sheltered patch at the front of the house bloomed next. The ones by the road are still only leaves.

Maybe I need to feed the bulbs by the road. Except the muscari I planted among the daffodils there have already bloomed and are starting to fade. The muscari I planted in the lawn, sheltered from wind by cedars, getting good afternoon light, these are just starting to show themselves.

The daffodils by the road were planted only a couple of years ago while the other patches were here when I came. That may be the difference for them. But why such a difference between the muscari that I planted the same day? The difference between gravelly soil and clay? Does the clay stay colder longer? Or did the ones in the gravel sprout and grow fast to use the draw in the limited nutrients quickly while the ones in the lawn with clay soil take their time? This is one of those moments when I realize how little I know about plants.

The wild pussy willows above the escarpment put out their catkins weeks ago. They started into full flower last week. The cultivated weeping pussy willow that I put in beside cedars, the same area where the muscari are, took two weeks longer to put out catkins. They too are in full flower now. The pussywillow I put in a damp area near the bay is just starting to bud now. That makes sense to me: I have known that the front yard and back yard, closer to the water, are different climate zones.

The violets are in bloom in front of the house and in the back yard right against the house. The colts-foot have also started to bloom. A patch of these wild flowers grows next to the hosta bed. I have cut them back a bit, but won't eliminate them as they are the first native flower to bloom in our yard. On a warm day, native bees are all over them.

The damage from winter road maintenance is showing on some cedars. Part of this may be salt, though on this road, it is spread only in the middle and in limited quantities. The browning only goes about a metre and a half above the ground, a little higher than the wing of the plow. Maybe spray from the car goes that high as well. Above that level, the trees look healthy. I will watch for new growth lower down.

Two things I am aware of at this point this spring. Spring is not a steady push to new growth. It spurts and slows, taking time to move into new life. And plants are extremely complex creatures that we don't understand completely.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway


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