While it is snowing today and recoating the ground with a clean white blanket, earlier this week we were treated to one of the typical albeit unpredictable thaws that often occurs in late January or early February. A southern storm moved up the coast doubling the temperature to a balmy 55 degrees and dumped three inches of rain to transform our dirty icy plot into a soaked muddy mass. When the rain ended and the ground drained I surveyed my property to collect broken twigs and sticks and to see how things were fairing. What surprised me were the number of plants that were greening up and growing.
I hadn’t been into the cold frame or hoop houses since mid December as the relentless cold and snow have given me little reason to peek inside. But instead of stalactites of icy hanging off the panes, there was a thick cloud of moisture and heavy drops of water. Upon opening the frame a wave of hot air and a strangely sweet scent embraced me slightly fogging up my glasses and obscuring the condition of my greens. It was better than I imagined.
The kyona mizuna and endive looked as if they had had it for the season. The leaves were dry and crinkly. The romaine, red- and oak-leaf and Winter Destiny lettuces, however, were holding their own with fresh tasty leaves. The Swiss Chard was a mess with running rotting leaves through a few fresh ones were emerging from the centers. I cleaned out the plot of the decay and replaced the panes so that the lettuces (perhaps) would begin to increase in size.
The parsley, which had been buried in snow, was remerging with a few fresh leaves hanging over its raised bed. As I bit into one, I was reminded of summer pesto sauces and late afternoons on the patio with a summer beer in hand. That was far from me now though an 82 degree temperature reading in my greenhouse almost made me want to grab a beer and chair so I could sit amongst my potting tools and supplies contemplating the day.
As I walked by some of our overgrown butterfly bushes I noticed that some of the branches were sporting fresh green leaves. These leaves were more than outnumbered by their shriveled counterparts but they were alive and growing well. I couldn’t figure out how such a tender bush could still have intact leaves given the fact that we had over a week of sub-10 degree temperature weather earlier this month.
A normal sprouting of snowdrops in an adjacent flower bed was more acceptable to the senses though surprising. The ground is still very frozen for most of my property but perhaps the bulbs’ proximity to a concrete foundation provided them with enough warming to coax growth.
The three hellebores in a different garden were all healthy with large buds looking as if they would soon burst into flower. Today’s snow will slow that down but I’m looking forward to the blooms of this “Christmas rose” in the next month or so. Next to one of these plants was a wild strawberry that my wife planted last year. It looked fine as if it was getting ready to put out buds for spring berries. Our large bed of strawberries are resting beneath a bed of hay though a few fresh and green stragglers were poking their heads out, apparently seeking the sun. The many foxgloves that self seeded themselves were greening up though some of the larger plants’ outer leaf margins were burned. The smaller, ones, however, looked ready to start sending a flowing spike up toward the sun.
The last little surprise was the emergence of a few iris spikes in the back yard. Something that I have never seen before.
So with the warmth came little bits of spring though now they are all buried under four inches of snow.
We need another warming trend, but I don’t think one is coming any time soon.