The Yard Wakes Up

Sooner than usual this year, the ground is thawing out and spring plants are taking advantage. This includes a lot of Michigan weeds I still haven’t learned to recognize, a fair amount of incipient garlic mustard which I do, sadly, recognize, and, happily, lots of narcissus. The yellow ones that were first up have been joined by many friends. I see the lavender I planted between batches of them, though not in new growth yet, will need to be pruned back. Lamium, sturdiest of groundcovers, reasserts itself; nubs begin to swell on the forsythia (Spring’s Yellow Telegram – how does the rest of that poem go?); fingers of peony leaf, red instead of green, reach out of the bare dirt and scratch the air.

There’s a lot of deadfall to clear from the small wooded area out back, including the better part of a tree hacked down by Edison as it dangled, mid-air, across a cable, threatening more damage when we’d barely escaped from the Big Power Outage. It’s still in large chunks, but will make good firewood if Doug’s chainsaw is up to the task.

I patrol the yard and garden, thinking of different schemes for all those seedlings soon to sprout in my upstairs window. I am learning to landscape with herbs, since they seem to repel the deer, the squirrels, and even the woodchuck. Miraculous basil, worthy of its royal name.

Speaking of squirrels, I have an update on my peanut-butter-and-hot-spiced-birdseed feeder. Among the squirrels there’s one that’s very, very fat even for a Michigan Gigunda Squirrel, by which I assume he has advanced food-gathering techniques. I noticed him lurking near the feeder at various times during the day, but never saw him on it until near dinnertime one day. By that hour the birds had eaten most of the seeds, but a lot of the peanut butter was still in place; and Mr. Gigunda climbed boldly up, reached out his little gray hands, and scraped all the remaining peanut butter into his mouth. I didn’t see the days in between when he figured this out, but it seems when the seeds are gone, the hot pepper goes with them. Once he was down to the peanut butter he was in the clear. And that’s okay with me. I’m happy to let Mr. Gigunda have the peanut butter as long as he lets the birds have the seeds.

For an interesting look at what your weeds can tell you about your soil, try this: Weeds as Indicator Plants . Although they could also be telling you what kinds of seeds spilled out of your birdfeeder.



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