The Elusive Tulip Pod

b tulip podsWell, the tulip pods are fattening up nicely. As instructed, I am waiting until they turn brown to take the seeds out. This isn’t the most practical experiment, considering the seven years they say it could take for a tulip seed to produce a flowering plant, but it just sounds so totally improbable I have to give it a try.

b budsThe weather got warm and the weather got cold again, but the snow’s all melted, even from the deck on the shadowy north side of the house. Buds are showing up on the tips of branches against a bright, bright sky, and the buzzards are back, our official harbinger of spring. I always wonder if there’s less road kill in winter, or why they leave. Do their featherless heads get too cold in a Michigan? Does the roadkill freeze? Buzzards would seem to be better equipped for winter than the deer are, but the deer hang around. The bald eagles are back, too, nesting in their usual spot up the street.

b helleboresDown on the ground, the hellebores continue to increase. Don’t they look pretty, blooming among last year’s dead leaves that no one has gone out there and hacked off? My excuse is, it’s hard to do that without stepping on the noses of the daffodils just coming up. Like Archimedes, I need a place to stand.

b early flowersI didn’t make that any easier for myself when I decided to add more kinds of bulbs to the mix. Last fall I found some crocus said to lack appeal to rabbits, and read that snowdrops have the same alkaloids narcissus do, which have successfully repelled both deer and rabbits in my yard. The sparse look is because I planted very few, since they’re my test group. I’ll get more if these survive. So far so good.

b indoorsAnd now it’s Daylight Savings Time, though up here in Michigan there’s not much daylight to save this time of year. We pay for the late sunset by getting up in the dark. Why does no one ever mention that? According to the very authoritative Sunday NY Times acrostic, Ben Franklin suggested Daylight Savings Time as a joke. Sounds about right to me. I’d put a photo of dawn in here for you, but when I have the misfortune to be up so early there’s no way I can push the right button on my phone. So here’s a nice artistic photo of my latest amaryllis instead.

From the Land of the Mitten

snow womanWhere my driveway meets the street, a spectacular amount of snow piles up from  multiple directions of plowing. I took advantage of the heap to build a Snow Woman. She was much appreciated by the determined Michiganders who take their walks down my street in any kind of weather. How could winter be a problem in a state shaped like a mitten?

sugar on snowWhen it warmed up a few days ago, I realized I’d better move fast if I wanted to make any snow ice cream. The snow has to be deep enough that you can brush off the top layer and get a good bowlful without touching underlying dirt. My deck is on the north side of the house, so snow on the table there perseveres in glory, even after grass is peeking through on the south-facing lawn. I spooned up three scoops of snow, took it inside, and added a nice pour of Michigan maple syrup. In New England the syrup would be boiled down so when it hit the snow, it would solidify into candy. But straight from the bottle, syrup on snow yields ice cream, or at least a maple sno-cone. That’s what I like.

hellebore budsAnd I was not a moment too soon doing it, because the snow continues to recede, and now the hellebores, living up to their other name – Lenten Rose – are nosing up to bridge the winter-spring gap. Seeds I ordered keep arriving in the mail. My amaryllis, potted up and beginning to bloom, lean into the window with its view of melting snow.

It’s sad to lose the sparkling snow, but after seeing flowers replace it, year after year, I have a great deal of trust that the flowers will come through again.amaryllis