signs of hope: first frog, flower, fuzzy stuff

AGIANT FLOCK OF REDPOLLS–BIRDS I NEVER SEE HERE–landed on the newly revealed patio outside my window, looking for nibbles in the cracks and crevices just hours after a little snow finally melted. Only hours after the white stuff gave way on the stones by the frogpond, out climbed three friends, looking no worse for the winter wear. By the gate, the pussy willow catkins are all a silvery fuzz, positively delightful, and I swear the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) perforated the leaf litter and jumped up an inch to open its sunny flowers within moments of being exposed to the light–determined to win the race for first bloom of the new year. There is hope, and here is the proof:

The pond de-icers (red disc, below) have been going since November, to keep a hole in the surface ice so my guys don’t suffocate, but this fat frog is acting like it’s sunbathing time at the beach.

The giant pussy willow, Salix chaenomeloides, is in full glory (below). Remember this great, easy shrub?

I suspect we’re far from done with winter, but even these first small hints–and the sight of land (even though a lot of it is full of tunnels and burrows and other damage) is a relief. More to come soon, but for now, it’s something!

no comments
March 12, 2011


  1. says

    Woo hoo!! It doesn’t matter anymore…it can snow, get freezing cold again for a bit, it doesn’t matter because it can not last! Yea! I can’t believe how much snow has melted that past week. It’s amazing. Spring is just around the corner :-))))))

  2. says

    The aconites are always so cheerful. Mine don’t last long, but I once saw a whole berm covered in them- I’ll never forget how lovely it was, and very unusual.

  3. Terry says

    Very promising signs of spring. I took my first garden center trip to, Victiria Gardens in Rosendale, NY. Picked up a great blooming hellebore and a viburnum ‘dawn’. It was so good to have a nursery open again. My garden has crocus and snowdrops in bloom with lots of fat hellebores stretching for the sun. Soon they it will be hellebore porn time! Couple this with the spring ahead on the clocks and it is a great weekend here too.

  4. Mary Farrand says

    Ladies and gentlemen you are all so lucky…here in upstate NY, we are just now losing our snow….I’ll have to venture out tomorrow and see what may be peeking up from under the leafy bed covers.

  5. says

    Yup, Mary, me too. I did stroll around the yard today (sans snowshoes!) and I couldn’t resist a happy little “I’m walking on grass” dance. More snow tomorrow though. My pond still looks glacial so my beloved frogsters will not be out and about anytime soon. So thanks for sharing yours, Margaret. It’s the next best thing :-)

  6. says

    We have not seen REDPOLLS for several years. Couple of weeks ago we had a flock of close to 40 here for two days and have not seen them since. Still a lot of snow on the ground so no other signs of spring yet.

    Have a great evening,

  7. bavaria says

    Ahhh spring….thanks for the peek, Margaret.
    We have 5 degrees, snow, and high winds and freezing spray advisories on the coast….hee, hee, that’s what I get for living at 58 degrees latitude!
    I’m going to go dream over my seed catalogs now…..

    • says

      Nice to see you, Bavaria and Kathy. Isn’t it amazing to even have a HINT (whether in the air or catalogs!) of the possibilities that lie ahead? :)

  8. says

    New here and enjoying it all. I had my first whiff of spring at about 3am one day last week. I was awakened by some noisy chattering outside my bedroom window and then a blast of happy skunk spray permeated the closed windows. I could still smell it later that evening! I prefer the red-winged blackbirds that showed up a couple days later, but a sign is a sign.

  9. Madeline says

    I love Pussy Willows and always associate them with my mother. Last year on advice of a gardening site I cut mine to the ground to re-shape the tree which had not been taken care of….it died. I though you couldn’t kill Pussy Willows. I am so upset.

  10. Maria says

    Our Pacific Tree Frogs are singing down by the neighborhood pond, in Poulsbo, WA. Usually hear them on March 1, but they waited until Mar 12 this year. Woohoo, it’s spring!

  11. Ken York says

    Cuttings o liloc, pussy willow, and rhodies today. Hope they leaf out and show some colour. Hope springs, I hope.

  12. ann says

    snowdrops beat the yellow winter aconite in Sharon, peeping out with yellow foliage where the snow had covered them, but the winter aconite came right on afterward. I am waiting to see my first skunk cabbage — the first bloom in the bog.

  13. Lisa says

    Last week we were well on our way to spring, and then Friday we had snow, a lot of snow, and then more snow on Saturday. I don’t do well in March, too much anticipating, and disappointments, so I was quite low on the weekend. Today is a beautiful sunny day, hopefully it will melt some of this stuff! Next fall I am going to plant snowdrops and winter aconite against my house foundation, then I will have blooms weeks earlier than the rest of my garden.

  14. Mary lou says

    Central Indiana – My snowdrops are blooming, so are my Harmony iris, and I bought your new book Sat. – what hope in the midst of wordly caos and cataotrophe!

  15. says

    I know how you feel when you see those blooms peeking up! When I saw the first witchhazel bloom unfurl I was all smiles! Happy spring! *Amy

    • says

      Welcome, Amy. Happy spring to you, too. Yes, the witchhazel is such an optimistic plant, isn’t it? I am going to treat myself to some this year, and add them where some other shrubs didn’t make it through the winter.

  16. says

    My aconite and snow drops are up, and today of course covered in 4″ of wet snow…was so sure spring was really taking hold. The aconite doesn’t really seem to spread.Was planted along little stone wall on a bank that is shaded by maple trees. Is there something I should be doing to encourage it? Or should I move to a sunnier spot?

    • says

      Welcome, Deborah. It seeds itself, so if you clean up too vigorously or disturb the area where the babies are sown in summer (and then emerge again in spring) they don’t get a foothold. I have to remind myself to stay out of the area. Not sure if that is your issue too?

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