Common Ground – March 2021

“Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?”


In March most of the winter is behind us. If we can hold on through the last of winter’s cold and snow, the rewards are longer days and eventually the beginnings of spring.

My garden journal tells me that last year the first snowdrops appeared on March 13 and the first crocuses about a week later. That cheers me up to no end. I planted quite a few crocuses last fall in the lawn near the house. I didn’t note where I planted them and I never remember unless I write it down. So where they come up will be a surprise of the pleasant kind. If the chipmunks and squirrels ate them all before the ground froze, then that will be another kind of surprise entirely. I can only wait and see.

I also planted a lot of daffodils last fall. I knew that when we got around to the last days of winter I would need something to look forward to. And I do need something to look forward to when I look outside and still see a lot of snow.

Am I the only one finding that some of the diversions of the pandemic winter are wearing thin? I started last winter just before the pandemic was declared to work on making a good pizza crust. Apocalyptic giant bags of flour appeared in all the grocery stores at that point. Who knew that there were so many different kinds of yeast in the world? Obviously many people shared this particular diversion. I think I have mastered the pizza crust now and can check that off the list and move on to more spring like pursuits.

This year saw seed racks appearing in stores in January. I couldn’t bring myself to look at them when spring was so far off. That would have just been too discouraging. But now with longer days and even a few days warm enough to sit on the porch, I’m ready to look at seeds. Any seeds. I’ve been looking at herb, vegetable and flower seeds and imagining the possibilities. Seed orders are starting to arrive in my mailbox, a sure sign of spring.

The giant nicotine seedling I was given last fall has survived the winter. It’s getting wider and taller and it was huge to begin with. I have read several articles that say these plants are particularly suited for growing in pots. I would not ever have imagined that. There is always something to learn in the wide world of plants.

Also surviving is a pot of allium seedlings that I never got around to planting last fall. It’s good to know that not getting to the end of the planting to do list doesn’t always result in disaster.

It’s time to sort the garlic into sprouted and non-sprouted and to hasten to use the former. This is one of spring’s easier tasks.

And it’s time to put my little wind mill back out on the front porch. This was an impulse purchase from one of the seed catalogues several years ago. I ordered it because it reminded me of the homemade versions that I remember from childhood. There’s something relaxing about its motion when I sit out there.

I’m hearing new birds every day and close to the house there is a very noisy cardinal. More signs of spring.

Finally, getting back to the garden journal, this is worth doing and not just because most of us are forgetful. It’s a reminder that the garden universe will unfold as it should give or take a few yearly variations. Happy spring everyone.

By Jill Williams

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