First Signs of Spring

January 16 new growth 023

Mahonia, Oregon Grape Holly beginning its winter bloom.

It began snowing this morning soon after I “got up for good.” 

Yesterday sunrise brought fog and gentle rain, but no snow.  Today the sun hid behind thick clouds as curtains of snow fell across the garden.

Yesterday sunrise brought fog and gentle rain, but no snow. Today the sun hid behind thick clouds as curtains of snow fell across the garden.

It was our first snow of the season, although promises and hints have lingered in our weather forecasts for weeks now.

Lichens growing on a budding Azalea branch.

Lichens growing on a budding Azalea branch.

When I couldn’t sleep in the wee dark early hours, there was no trace of snow yet.  But it looked really cold outside.  The cat didn’t mind; and he ran out, given the opportunity; not suspecting that I was going to fall back to sleep on the couch, leaving him out in the cold.

Heuchera

Heuchera sprouting new leaves

Sure enough, when next I awoke, it was brighter, but a thin mix of snow and rain had begun.  Ollie was parked at the back door, huddled as close to the house as possible, trying desperately to speak loudly enough to summon me.  He shot inside as soon as the door opened a crack, with all the force a very large, frosty cat can muster.

I couldn’t be sure whether the ensuing mewing was in appreciation or complaint.  He eventually settled in sullen silence in his current favorite spot under the table, and pretended to ignore any further conversation about the snow.

Lamb's Ears have begun to grow

Lamb’s Ears have begun to grow

Our first snow of the season soon filled the sky and the garden with beautiful plump snowflakes.

Fingers of Daffodil leaves have begun to push up through the mud.

Fingers of Daffodil leaves have begun to push up through the mud.

It only gathered here and there on leaves, branches, and porch furniture, since it wasn’t frosty enough this morning for snow to stick to the ground or street…  But, it kept falling  in generous curtains as I made coffee and cooked oatmeal, answered phone calls and got dressed for the day.

Buds have finally appeared on the Hellebore.

Buds have finally appeared on the Hellebores.

And in honor of our first snow, we went out to search for signs of spring. 

It is only fitting.  Now that we are deeply into our Virginia winter, past the holidays, and settled into a run of cold damp days and colder nights; I knew that signs of spring had to be lurking for anyone in search of them.

Hellebore

Hellebore

Snowflakes were still falling here and there, much more slowly than they had been, when we finally ventured out.  The snow had already passed us according to the satellite maps on TV, but the truth of it fluttered down around us in brilliant, white puffy flakes.

Buds have appeared on the stalks of last summer's daisy.

Buds have appeared on the stalks of last summer’s daisy.

I’ve been keeping a close eye out looking for Hellebores buds to poke up through the cold Earth, and watching for the first probing green fingers of  green to rise out of the mud where I remember bulbs are planted.

And so I began my rounds of the garden to see what I could see.

Hellebore coming into bud.

Hellebore coming into bud.

It takes a degree of discipline to overlook the stubby chewed off foliage of a savaged Viola, root ball lying exposed on the soil, to rejoice in the bit of Daffodil leaf poking out of the ground nearby.  But I was determined to find and record new beginnings today.

Apple mint begins to grow in its pot.

Apple mint begins to grow in its pot.

Today is a new beginning for our first granddaughter, born last night a little after 7 PM Pacific time.  She came into the world happy, healthy, and absolutely beautiful.  She has an engaging smile right from the beginning.  Her face carries  the contented wisdom of the very very young,  and the very old.   A safe and timely birth, happy parents, loving families; we are so appreciative for all the blessings that come with our newest member of the family.

Mahonia blossoms begin to open their bright yellow flowers.

Mahonia blossoms begin to open their bright yellow flowers.

And in her honor, we are convinced, the sky opened  this morning and greeted us with a fresh snowfall.

Melted snowflakes cling to the lavender.

Melted snowflakes cling to the lavender.

As a new life begins in our family, I went in search of the beginnings of new life in the garden.  And I was greeted with an unexpected richness of beauty.

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Buds are swelling; bulbs are making their appearance; new leaves uncurling here and there; and even Forsythia is tentatively opening a bright yellow flower.  Forsythia blooming in mid-January… imagine that!  Even the moss and lichens, always winter companions, are vibrantly green and alive.  They have been enjoying all the rain.

The first Forsythia blossoms of spring time open tentatively along bare branches.

The first Forsythia blossoms of spring time open tentatively along bare branches.

And so it begins.  The first signs of spring from the depths of winter. 

New leaves sprout on a Heuchera munched by the deer around Christmas time.

New leaves sprout on a Heuchera munched by the deer around Christmas time.

I tucked the root balls of Viola back into the bed, bringing moist Earth up around them.  I covered the exposed Iris rhizomes, with their tiny green leaves poking out around the edges, and made a mental note to bring some garlic cloves out to guard the tiny plants for the rest of winter.  So far garlic cloves are working where I’ve left them in the pots near the house, grazed by deer over the holidays.

A young Hellebore, too young to blooms, thrives in this bed of fern and Daffodils.

A young Hellebore, still too young to bloom, thrives in this bed of fern and Daffodils.

The Violas look like they are beginning to recover, although flowers won’t appear again for another several weeks.  They will be lovely again by March, when spring will be firmly settled all across the garden.

Shelf fungi

Shelf fungi look like sculpture growing in the edge of the ravine.

It is wise to honor and take notice of the beginnings of things.  The more we watch, the more we learn.  The more we know, the more we can appreciate the wonder and magic of it all.

Moss, ivy, and lichens grow at the base of an old Beech tree.

Moss, ivy, and lichens grow at the base of an old Beech tree.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

January 16 new growth 032

Do the difficult things while they are easy
and do the great things while they are small.
A journey of a thousand miles
must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu
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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

12 responses to “First Signs of Spring

  1. The Mahonia is a bush you have to be careful about where you plant as the leaves make working around a bit challenging. My father planted several of Mahonia bealei, close relative of the Oregon Grape Holly, at the end of the driveway making access to cars impossible from the end and when the brushes were fruiting, the cars were heavily decorated with purple bird bombings.

    • Oh my- what a terrible surprise for him! I once had a mature mulberry tree hanging over the driveway, and had the same effect! I use the Mahonia where I want to create barriers and backdrops. We have so many prickly plants here- Adam’s Needle, holly, now the Mahonia… one must watch out or get get skewered! Hope you’re well. I sent a link to your site to my sister in law in OR, who is a gifted quilter 😉 Best wishes, WG

  2. Congratulations on entering the realm of Grandparenthood. It’s a wonderful, magical place. And a big welcome to the new little girl who recently entered the world. 🙂 We had snow yesterday, too, and then I noticed the daffs are shooting up out front. I know winter is returning next week, but it was nice to see some signs of spring. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Robin. I deeply appreciate your good wishes. The little one is living on the west coast, so i’m meeting her only through photos so far. I thought you must have had a lovely snow yesterday. Our weather guys can’t agree on the weekend forecast, and we’re still hoping for another snow shower in the morning. Will this be your first spring in this garden? What pleasures await for you 😉 Best wishes, WG

  3. and may the new life in your life be the joy of your life
    besides her own parents and all around her
    as well as herself.

  4. How lovely to see so many signs of Spring. It always fills one with joy when seeing the little shoots optimistically appearing above the cold soil! Many congratulations on the birth of your grand daughter! I have a baby grandson and he is a delight to behold!

    • Thank you for your good wishes 😉 Spring is my favorite time of year- so we celebrate every bit of it. Thank you for stopping by Forest garden. Best wishes, and congratulations on your new grandson! WG

  5. How lovely for you to be surrounded with new life and blessings at the beginning of the year! Congratulations on the safe arrival of your little granddaughter. What is her name? Sarah

  6. The signs of Spring are so exciting! I love it when the daffodils start showing their leaves. I saw some signs in our garden as well. Enjoy the anticipation!

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