Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Phenology 101: Spring 2018 Edition

As I realized last year on this day, I haven't been particularly faithful about celebrating Spring on this blog. But lately I've been thinking about seasonal things more than usual, and have managed to stay aware of changes both small and monumental.

Phenological markers have been delayed a bit, at least compared to the last two years. The wisteria, for example, is only now beginning to bloom out, in contrast with last year's appearance at the beginning of the month. And the redbud (shown above), which last year was already past its prime, is in full flush. The holly flowers outside the dining room and next to the front porch perfume the air so boisterously that the aroma permeates the living room  in the evening, even with the doors closed. The wisteria is beginning to do the same in back, and soon the chinaberry and catalpa will replace it--although neither are even budding yet.

The garden is becoming somewhat less accidental than it was (I have a habit of letting things grow where they want to) because we've been evicted from the north side by the neighbor's noisy pool pump, and I'm giving up on being able to use the area for anything peaceful. As a result, I've cleared out planting space outside the wild gladiolus volunteers, and am adding other flowering plants around a transplanted bird bath.  Since we plan to build a greenhouse over the potager (to hide the unsightly structures added by the neighbor), the converted copper fire basin damaged by the previous neighbor's cowboy tree guy's bad aim and turned into a large, bent, funky bathing pool for bees and cedar waxwings had to be moved anyway. So now it has a new home and the bees are loving it. Having denuded all our tree-berries, the cedar waxwings have moved on to juicier fare elsewhere, and other birds don't seem to have discovered the new location.

Following William Morris's idea that gardens should be made up of outdoor rooms, we've begun to envision a series of these. The first includes the area just outside the trailer door, where I've moved my hammock (it used to be where the pool pump now registers its loudest decibel level), and where we've installed a garden bench and a couple of chairs, as well as some strategically placed tree stumps--of which we have a never-ending supply. Now there are places to put one's feet up or rest a drink, and the hammock gets fairly consistent, dappled shade. The area is bounded on one side by a large, flowering holly tree, and on the other by a small copse of privet, cedar, and some variety of flowering tree I haven't identified yet. We installed a trellis-arbor a few months ago, and completed the sequestering of the area by transporting the remains of an eighteen year-old pile of logs (from an area soon to become a tomato garden) to build a partial wall.

The newest space offers our ageing and gimpy (torn knee ligament) Arlo (he's under the hammock) a nice space to sleep in soft mulch and shade, and we can enjoy an afternoon conversation and tipple after TBS returns from coaching, which he's still doing as a volunteer. The holly tree makes the highway noise seem more distant, and things will be even quieter after the trees all leaf out. When we first moved in, the expressway nearly two miles away consisted of four lanes; now it's ten. Things were somewhat less noisy before progress caught up with us. These days we're thankful for the fact that the more trees come into leaf between us and the main route out of town, the quieter it will become--especially while people who aren't retired are at work.

And so, we're managing to deal with new challenges and to come up with solutions that address them and keep us sane. Soon the pecans will be leafing out and the light will soften. The grass will green up and need mowing. The crisp Spring air has almost made us forget about the two solid weeks of rainy sog we put up with last month (was it only last month?). And all that rain may make things cooler in Summer, although we're not counting on it.

For now we're enjoying the daily phenological changes.  The date of the equinox doesn't really determine the onset of Spring. It's really the appearance of significant signs, and for us some of these are beginning more or less on time. I doubt if folks in the northeast will be noticing snow drops or forsythia in the immediate future.  But the date does remind us that it shouldn't be all that long until the snow and ice abate up there--and the first supercell thunderstorm appears, a harbinger of tornado season down here. A good reason for us to celebrate while we can, and enjoy this probably all-too-short respite between extremes.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Glad that spring has really sprung in North Texas. We had a modest snowstorm here on the Blue Ridge on the first day of spring, most of which soon melted. Today--my mother's birthday--we are getting another snow, which the forecasts say might be the biggest of the year. Nonetheless, we love it here! This is by far the best place I've ever lived. Spring(?) greetings to you and Rod!