Friday, February 6, 2009

The Thrill of False Spring

It's early February and these last two days have been our "false spring" with temperatures in the 60s, sunny and glorious. I'm in heaven. I know it will rain again, but not yet! Birds are very active too, exulting in the warmth, and the suet feeder is covered with little bush tits every day.

Cutting off last year’s hellebore leaves is so satisfying—while I’m doing this I’m face to face with the newly opening flowers. I tip the pendant blossoms upward with one finger and look right inside them—some white, some pink, some burgundy, some freckled with darker splashes of color. So many hundreds of tiny hellebore seedlings sprout at the feet of the mother plants, it’s hard to find safe places to tread.

Now is the time to cut back the big stands of ornamental switch grasses too—Panicum ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Dallas Blues.’ I whack them back with long-handled loppers and pitch the spent tan stalks onto a big tarp, to be dragged to the compost pile. In my mind’s eye I see them rising up again, ‘Shenandoah’ with red tinted slender blades and ‘Dallas Blues’ with broader blue-green foliage.

Sedums too are ready to cut back, ‘Matrona’ and ‘Vera Jameson’ are already pushing up little succulent rosettes. I snip off the old stems and marvel at the signs of new life already arising in February. Everywhere I look the garden’s pulse is quickening.

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