spring or winter: which is it this funny february?

hamamelis in snow

SPRING OR WINTER? Who knows–certainly not the garden, or the weather, which is running hot-and-cold, literally, as it has all “winter” long. The last week or so has seen the first bulbs, a snowstorm (something we haven’t had but once or twice this season–just ask my unused snow shovel), and a lot of buds on early blooming shrubs daring to swell and shake off their protective coverings, despite my telling them “No, don’t do it!” A little slideshow of the vagaries of this non-February.

Click on the first thumbnail to start the slides, then toggle from image to image using the arrows on your computer keyboard or the ones beside each caption. And please: Wish us all luck, right? Teens forecast tonight, and so many of my babies refuse to wear their winter coats! (P.S.–links to full profiles of most of the included plants are just below the thumbnails.)

Profiles of These Daring Plants

CategoriesNature slideshows
  1. Lorie says:

    Yep!!! We sent that to you right out of NE. The landscape was gorgeous if broken branches et al were ignored. Mental image of moisture slowly seeping into the earth helped ease the pain.

  2. Lynn Thompson says:

    I hope we do NOT get any really cold weather or ice.. light snow is okay – nitrogen. All my bulbs have sprung their natural height of green..

  3. Nancy says:

    I bought my first hamamelis on-sale last year on a whim at a Lowes and plunked it in the ground. 3 weeks ago, it began to bloom – lovely dark-red blooms that still cling to the stems. What a treat in my NW PA Zone 5 garden. Today we have 4 inches on the ground but the bird calls have changed from “here I am” to “here I am darling!” as the days warm up, snow melts and the first bulbs push through. Since we cannot stop this – we just have to let spring happen at whatever speed it chooses.

  4. Good Morning;
    Please use a short handled shovel and don’t throw any our way. Things are just right here, don’t need any snow. It certainly has been an interesting winter, looking forward to what and when spring will bring and arrive.

    Have a great day,

  5. ann says:

    It still snows in Dakota, but it is the last week of February and with this mild temp,
    must say it is the winter that wasn’t. My boots have been wondering when I would put tjem out and this is the day..I want to get out and see the bird bath in the snow..Your pictures of chairs and Lavender inspire me to enjoy my own yard..

  6. Linda says:

    Yes, Margaret, I had the same idea today on my blog! Several seasons all in one day. I’m not far from you in Fairfield County. We actually still have some of the snow in patches around the yard. The bulbs are bursting forth and some of my peonies are popping up! I am waiting to see what happens to the trees which survived the great October snow with all their leaves on, some of which are still holding on. Linda

  7. Astrid Bowlby says:

    Nancy, I am in Bristol, PA and I have noticed the changing tone and urgency of the birdsong, too. I have rose bushes budding and variegated iris and columbine starting to peek out of the ground. It is a bit alarming. Fortunately, I have a micro climate situation that will help protect them (as well as encourage them). But I continue to marvel: Really? Is winter really over???!!!

  8. Jackie says:

    You are welcome to visit in southeast Michigan. We have seen 1-2 inches of snow per day during the past week, but it doesnt stick. I have not shoveled. The walks and streets are clear. The sun melts everything from the trees and shrubs. There is a light blanket on the gardens.

    Of course, this is Michigan. There are no flowers yet. There are no buds yet. The nights get below freezing.

  9. Laura W says:

    Glad to hear that my bulbs are not the only ones not listening to advice. I’m in zone 6 SE Pa and I have yellow and white crocuses (crocii?) and Katherine Hodgkin irises blooming already. Silly little things!

    Was Punxsutawney Phil wrong this year?!?!

  10. Denise says:

    Well done,

    Perfect way to sum up this Feb.- grateful for the mild weather but nervous about the potential of the weather gods to deliver death and destruction to an optimistic plant community. I think March is going to be the same.

  11. sundevilpeg says:

    I so want to go out with the leaf rake and do away with the winter mulch, but every time I do, we seem to have another 3-4″ snowfall. And under that? Why, daffodil, garlic, and shallot sprouts, as well as some chervil seedlings, and over-exuberant Achillea and Oriental poppies. In Z-5 Chicago, in February.

    *sigh* It’s going to be a very odd year.

  12. Leila Schnyder says:

    I’m in Sunset Magazine’s zone 17-19, right on the Pacific Coast, 90 miles from Oregon.
    Our winter has been as odd and sometimes frustrating as yours, but in its own way.
    Warm and beautiful all the way thru Jan./Feb. (mostly), and very little rain. Our redwood trees thrive on fog and rain.
    Oh well………….

  13. Sam Hunting says:

    It’s been so warm up here in Maine I’m worried that winter sowing in milk jugs is going end up like sowing in the earth too early.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Sam. I have never done winter sowing, but I agree that when outdoors is so oddly “warm” it could surely throw that way off, too. Crazy, no? Nice to see you; come again soon!

  14. Maia says:

    Coming after a cold winter, these first spring (winter) flowers are the most beautiful ones of the year.

    I arrived here from About.com. You have an amazing website with so many interesting info and photos.
    I voted for you too and I’ll come back sometimes to read more.

  15. Daisy Marshall says:

    So much enjoy the slides. This is my onle way of seeing and learning about plants and gardening. Love all the comments always,it’s like listening to this great land speak about its wonderful and varied richness. Thank you Margartet! We don’t get much changes here if at all, but I’m not complaining. I’m looking forward to the new book and looking for the paperback of I Shall Have Some Peace for gifts. May Spring come soon and the good weather hold up.All the best, Daisy Marshall in South Fla.

  16. Deborah Banks says:

    We’re getting a big snowstorm today with up to 6 inches of snow and maybe ice. But when I looked outside this morning, I saw a flock of at least 25 red-wing blackbirds in the trees near the birdfeeder. They’re back! And boy are they early for us. Now it’s snowing hard and they’ve vanished, but they’ll be back. Friday will be in the 40’s and Saturday is forecast to be in the low 50’s.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Myrna. I leave it on (I like it to break down gradually into the soil) and top it up with a fresh layer. What is the trouble with it? Looks messy or?

  17. Gayla Templeton says:

    Here in Kansas where the bulbs should just be peeping through they are up, bloomed and burned out by hot wind on an 87 degree day yesterday. I can’t imagine how to plant seeds in this heat and expect them to grow and flourish. It is as though spring has been on fast forward as the daffies and the lilacs have come and gone at the same time. I’ve never in my 60 years of gardening seen such a thing and hope I never do again. I live through the other three seasons in anticipation for spring and it’s come and gone in a week. ( mutter #%##^ mutter)

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