Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorful Crocuses!

We've been blessed with bright sunshine today, which is doubly appreciated after yesterday's frigid wind that chilled us to the bone. Those cold March winds make us so thankful for the warm sunny days.
Last Friday and Saturday brought us wonderful weather - perfect for getting some clean-up done in the gardens. The thermometer on our back patio registered 72ºF/22.2ºC at 4:00PM on Saturday! We haven't seen outdoor temperatures that high for what seems like a very long time!

And guess what opened their pretty faces to the warmth of the sun?

Our first crocuses!
I found this busy little bee buzzing happily among the blooms.

It's so good to see color in the garden again!

There are two varieties of the same shade of purple here. The ones on the left have much larger blooms. Posted by Picasa

Sunday was cloudy and wet, with quite heavy rain showers beginning in the afternoon and continuing overnight, but these bright yellow blooms appeared in spite of the inclement weather. Because of the clouds, they kept their petals closed, but today they opened their cheery little faces to the sunshine.

I also found these lovely striped blooms in the Lilac Garden, with the afternoon sun backlighting their petals.

If you look closely at the daffodils just to the left of the crocuses in the foreground of this picture, you'll see that they're budding. (click to enlarge for a closer look).

And around the corner in the Rose/Clematis Garden I found another clump with fat buds on them. I wonder how long it will take for them to open.
Last year I recorded, with my camera, the first daffodils opening on April 13th. It seems to me that these will be earlier than that.
Posted by Picasa

Let's not forget the dear little snowdrops, making such a pretty display. The petals were closed when I took the photo of this group in the Pink Garden at 1:45PM.

I went out to check at 4:00PM and found them open in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine.
Several groups were planted here and there last summer and fall...all thinnings of the original group in the Rose/Clematis Garden. They multiply readily.

I spotted another bee enjoying this bloom. Posted by Picasa
It's so good to see the bees buzzing around flowers again!

Just a couple more shots of those lovely purple blossoms, so that we end as we began......with color! Posted by Picasa

And there's that first busy little bee again!
Isn't spring wonderful?

I'm wishing all the folks in the upper mid-west a much better weather week than this last one.
May April bring you gentle spring days!
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring's Awakening

Now that spring has sprung in our half of the world, above the equator, I find myself vigilantly searching for signs of its "springing".
Last Friday marked the vernal equinox (day and night are the same length) - the official beginning of spring - and the sun shone brightly, but a very cold wind chilled our bones.
A week ago, on St. Patrick's Day, our temperature reached a glorious 59ºF/15ºC, and on the Sunday and Monday before that I was able to spend a few hours doing clean-up work in the garden. What a joy to feel the sun on my back and breathe the fresh air!
This past Sunday brought a few snow showers, and the arctic north wind has persisted since then, keeping me indoors. I'm deceived by the bright sunshine, and go out to snap a few photos, but am chilled through within seconds and hurry back into the warmth of the house. Such is March.
But there are signs of spring's awakening.....

The redwinged blackbirds are back!

They clean up the seed beneath the feeders, with help from a few grackles. The female redwings have brown stripes and look quite different from the males. (click photo to enlarge for a better view).

They spook easily and fly to the old elm in the hedgerow across the road.

These photos were taken on March 11th and most of the snow has melted since then,

........but there are still patches here and there. Posted by Picasa

We had a treat on St. Patty's Day when our oldest daughter came up from NY City to spend a couple of days with us. On Wednesday she and I walked down to the river to explore, and found a couple of Canada geese. We've been hearing them honk and seeing them fly over the river for a few weeks now. They obligingly stayed long enough for me to snap a few pictures. Posted by Picasa

Usually they fly away immediately, but these two let us get a little closer before they took off.

There's a nice view of the farm from over there.

We also took a nice long walk along our road which takes us past a couple of places that keep horses. The dairies are gone from the farms close to us and horses have taken the place of cows on two of those farms. Posted by Picasa

These two beauties were happy to say hello.

A little further along we found more horses enjoying the mild morning.

Back home on a different day I quickly grabbed the camera to catch a shot of another neighbor out for a jaunt with the horse and buggy.

It's almost time to take the winter covering off the roses. Some have already been removed. And there's still plenty of clean-up work to do.

On the first day of spring I went exploring with my camera and found buds on the lilacs. Posted by Picasa

We won't see blooms until May.

The cutleaf maple is budding. This photo was taken on a cloudy day....

....and this one on a sunny day. What a difference in the color of the sky!

These clusters of buds will open into flowers around mid April. Posted by Picasa

The brave little snowdrops bloom alone still.....

....but yesterday I finally spotted crocus shoots emerging beside the daffodil spears.

And the tulips are growing!

In the veggie garden this morning I found garlic pushing up out of the ground. I tried to push it back in but the ground was frozen. Even the surface dirt was too frozen to rake some around the bulbs. There'll be no planting peas here for a few weeks yet, Carol! Posted by Picasa

We've been seeing the wild turkeys most mornings in the field next to the house.

The toms are displaying but I haven't caught a picture of them strutting their stuff yet. Posted by Picasa

Cowbirds are visiting the feeders. This one is a male. Posted by Picasa

And starlings are always after an easy meal. Although they sometimes feed in flocks in the yard, luckily we don't get too many at the feeders.

I sighted our first two robins on March 18th.

A sure sign that spring has sprung! Posted by Picasa

Just before I took this photo, Jasmine, in full "spring fever" mode, had made a flying dash across the yard and raced up the maple tree. I ran for my camera, but by the time I got back outside she was sitting on the ground. She did pose nicely though. :)

The barn kitties are spending more time outside...another definite sign of spring. They found sheltered warmth in the sunshine by the back door this afternoon. Posted by Picasa

We witnessed this spectacular sunset two weeks ago, and I'm watching another one as I type this. I doubt it will give us quite the impressive display of this one though. Normally they're more subdued at this time of year, but the softer colors are beautiful too. Posted by Picasa
Spring is springing gradually so far, but a couple of weeks into April will bring green grass and more!
We have much to look forward to!

Happy spring everyone!

(and happy fall/autumn to those of you who are under the equator) :)