THE PRINCE thinks it’s spring. I have to stay on his tail (to put it politely) to prevent him from messing with the garden. Though I do understand the urge. It’s February, the top is down on our rattletrap Mustang, and I’m wearing a T-shirt and sandals to Harris Teeter.
Baby has spring fever too. She called, wanting to know if she could plant some seeds, ignoring the last frost date, which is mid-April in Raleigh, North Carolina, land of the fried Ho Ho, where she’s living with her Personal Prince Pete. Seeds are cheap, I said, find a sunny spot near the warmth of a wall and it’s worth a shot, though if we have a cold snap they will likely fail.
Then I saw Jackie, a real estate agent far too young for her billowing mane of iron-gray hair, a cameo face surrounded by
storm clouds, which makes it stunning. She was showing a house on Capitol Hill and I was amusing myself by pondering what $1.5 million now looks like. Rather like my house, if you piped in some Piaf, added a fancy shower, bumped out this, fixed that. One small leap, I’m thinking. We bought it for $102,000 (that $2,000 being a make or break number as I recall). Shocking.
She says, to get back to the point, which as usual escaped me, that the weather makes her want to dig in the garden. Plant seeds, maybe heirloom tomatoes, zinnias.
Yes, I agree. It’s bloody tempting. Whereforth the arctic shroud of Februarys past, or words to that effect.
After all, the first of the daffodils are already blooming in the sunniest spots. One expects crocus in February, and snowdrops, and early-blooming camellias (why did I plant one that blooms in the fall?). But the appearance of hellebores in full flower, and the pokings-up of the tulips? Look closely and the roses and mock orange, even the hydrangeas, are beginning to pop with tiny leaves.
The early-blooming cherries are out particularly early too—these are not The Cherries, they’re another variety, so worry not.
Every five years or so we have one of those springs where everything comes blasting up simultaneously and stays—as long as the temperature remains somewhat cool, neither freezing nor baking. The daffs last for weeks, joined by the tulips, the roses, the lilacs, all manner of flowers that are supposed to appear in stages. Boom. Boom. Boom.
Those rare years the city looks like a florist’s fridge, with gardens bringing forth weeks of impossible combinations – along with the constant fear that The Cherry blossoms, the ones that rightly bloom around April Fool’s Day, will freeze before they flower.
Given what the forecasters are saying, this looks to be one of those years. There’s no frost predicted in the near future, and the near future takes us nearly to spring itself—when we might get a blast of icy air for a minute or two but nothing catastrophic to fragile blossoms.
LittleBird Stephanie writes about flowers and gardens and her tiny urban plot. For previous columns, type Green Acre into the Search box at the top of the page.