Welcoming Spring With A Treasure Hunt

By Mary Ellen Ellis | March 7, 2021
by Mary Ellen Ellis
March 7, 2021

Spring is one of the best times of year for a gardener. The snow melts, the ground begins to thaw, and temperatures rise, which means new growth. While I love the start of spring for the sake of my garden, I find real joy in looking for spring everywhere else. 

Early Spring Walks

My favorite way to welcome back spring is to go for walks, looking for signs of new growth. It’s like an informal treasure hunt. I look for the earliest leaf buds and small green leaves, which are always on the weeping willows along the creek in the park. 

I also look for perennials pushing through the ground, spring-blooming bulbs emerging from beds, and the earliest wildflowers in my local parks and woodlands. The hunt gets me excited about the coming growing season and provides a welcome relief to the monotony of a gray and white winter. 

What to Look for on Spring Walks

Some of the first signs of spring I see on my walks are buds and early leaves on trees and shrubs. While snow lingers on the ground and before flowers begin to bloom, I can always find some of the buds. Early leaves and buds to watch for in a Michigan spring are: 

In the wetlands area of my region, I look for the fuzzy catkins of the pussy willow. I also seek out the first sign of green, new cattails. The brown, dead cattails from the previous year linger for a long time, so I really have to search for the new growth, but when I see it, I know spring is here. 

Next come the wildflowers. Some yards in my neighborhood have crocus or snowdrop bulbs that emerge early, but I really like to search for the native woodland flowers as they push through the dirt in the forested areas of my neighborhood. These are some of the early spring flowers that first show up as little pops of green before blooming: 

Spring is a time for fresh growth and new beginnings. My annual early spring walks are invigorating and exciting. Get outside in late winter and early spring and start looking for new growth in your neighborhood. 

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