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Green Acre #186: The Warming Trend

IF THERE’S anything good to say about global warming, it’s probably accountable for the spring we’re about to have (fingers crossed, bang on wood). They come around rarely, though more frequently in recent years, springs that appear endless, like flower shows where unlikely pairings dance into view and linger and linger, meeting up with blossoms of later months, that in turn linger,

There’s an early warmth that retains a cool edge, so the flowers don’t frizzle but hang on. Tulips and lilacs waltz with the roses in a near overwhelming parade for the senses. We hope.  

We’re three weeks ahead of schedule, according the USA National Phenology Network, an organization I’d never heard of, and a word I’d never heard of, until 30 seconds ago. In very brief, they study climate change and its effect on plant and animal life. 

“Washington DC and New York City are 24 days early,” they say. “Philadelphia, Pa., is 16 days early, and Little Rock, AR, is 9 days early . . .  Spring bloom has also arrived in several Southeast and Southwest states. Spring bloom is between 1 day and 3 weeks early.” 

You can follow the march of spring on their website

But you don’t need a website to notice that the crocus and daffodils are out, the forsythia are bursting with buds, as are the hellebores, and winter jasmine. Some of the early cherries are already in bloom.  

We won’t, however, match the record for peak bloom of the Yoshino cherry trees, which was March 15, 1990. The Japanese beauties that adorn Washington DC’s Tidal Basin each spring are expected to be in splendid form around March 25, well timed for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which is March 20 to April 12 this year.

It’s a fine time to grab the secateurs and snip some flowering branches from your cherries, dogwood, forsythia and such, bringing them into bloom in the dining room or the foyer or on the mantel, should you still have any of these. Cut them tall and let them flair out between towering candlesticks. 

Small to minuscule flowers do nicely in squat vessels, nestled in foliage. My five-minute arrangement—which took me no farther afield than my row house steps—involved snipping a few fresh branches from a sidewalk tree, and some ivy and ferns from the backyard, a bit of this and that from house plants. A mix of leaves is nice: The varying textures and shades of green add interest. Since my daffs are just starting to open, I cadged just three for the center. 

Daffodils have a particularly short life in the warmth of a house, sometimes lasting only a day or two before shriveling into what seems a sad papery replica. Fresh, though, they’re perfect for a cheery centerpiece; as they droop, pluck them out and replace them with fresh blooms. A few grape hyacinths, and a tulip or two would be lovely. The greens should last for weeks

Making it simple was reusing florist’s foam from an arrangement I was gifted ages ago, I always hang onto that stuff. Even when it’s full of holes it still holds water, and stems. Those plastic flower-holder tubes with the rubber caps are also useful to save for short or weak stemmed flowers like pansies and dandelions (which look rather sweet in such company, like a child’s birthday card—just add glitter). 

Spring is here. We hope. On the other hand, keep your blankets handy, we’re still at least six weeks from the last frost date.  Ah, the drama.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” is always ready for spring.

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