Spring is indeed an exciting time for gardeners. Warm weather and sunny skies mean it’s time to get our hands dirty and our gardens looking fantastic. As a gardener in northern Ohio, I have to admit that I eagerly watch for all the signs of spring to arrive. Yet, there is one that never fails to inspire my gardening creativity.
Harbingers of Spring
Unlike the other seasons which seem to barge in overnight, spring arrives slowly and in stages. From the first sightings of robins hopping around the backyard to the advancing westerly position of the constellation Orion in the evening sky, I anticipate each and every one of the many signs of spring.
These include many common spring signs such as the arrival of a muddy lawn after the snow melts. This is followed by the grass greening up and the buds enlarging on my forsythia and lilac bushes. On warm winter days I see bugs flying through the air and on those nights, I hear the deep croaking of nearby frogs.
There are many other spring harbingers, which are too numerous to mention. Of all of them, I find the first flowers of spring to be the most moving. In my yard these are the daffodils. There is something extra special about seeing flowers blooming in the garden once again.
Although many of the signs of spring arrive before the daffodils bloom, I find these spring bulbs are one of the first harbingers of spring. Why? It’s because of the all the plants present in my garden, the daffodils are the first ones to exhibit new growth.
Spring Daffodils Growing in Winter
It not uncommon for me to find new daffodil leaves emerging from the ground in the dead of winter. Does this worry me just a bit? Definitely! Finding 3 to 4 inch (8-10 cm.) tall daffodil leaves sticking up from the ground in January is a little concerning.
Luckily, learning how daffodil bulbs develop has dispelled my concerns. Unlike many of our plants, spring daffodils go dormant in the summer. Then in the fall, roots begin to develop. After which, warm weather triggers the leaves and stems to grow underground.
A particularly warm fall or winter encourages these new leaves to breach the surface of the soil early. Once they do, they begin the process of photosynthesis. This provides food for the developing flower stems hidden beneath the surface.
While these early leaves often turn yellow at their tips due to cold damage, the flower stems form separately from the leaves and will not be affected. It will take another five to seven weeks of warm weather for the flowers to develop. Even so, every few years my spring daffodils get caught in a late season snowfall.
It can be disheartening to see snow crushing my beautiful spring flowers, so I do the only thing I can. I temper my excitement for the new growing season by picking bouquets of daffodils. These fill my house and remind me that even though snow is lurking outside, the signs of spring are all around us.