Spring starts slowly on the prairie. With the mid-continental weather tending towards extremes, plants are suitably cautious about putting forth too much green, too early.
As a gardener, I'm itching for green by mid February. For ANY color, actually, other than brown and tan and and gray and cedar green. I'm itching for gentle breezes and softness. The prairie doesn't provide much of any of that in February. In March, either, to be honest.
Feeding the birds helps. Cardinals flash such vivid red that I can't help but feel cheered up as I watch them. Songs start noticeably increasing by early March - and the return of the male red-winged blackbirds triumphantly declaring, "O-Ga-LEEEEE!" from every conceivable perch lets me know that spring truly is on its way.
Of course, giving in to the pull of non-native spring bulbs helps, too!
But I find a particular excitement stirring when I start seeing signs of spring in the native plant life. On March 12th, this was my first real sign of spring in the native plants....
By March 29th, the blooms were up and fully open.
But back to March 12th.... I leave my perennials uncut over the winter to provide seeds and shelter for the birds, overwintering sites for the insects, and protection for the soil from winter's harsh winds. With spring definitely starting to arrive, I undertook one of the biggest projects of my native garden calendar year - cutting back last year's growth.
On March 12th, here's what the front flower bed looked like after the vagaries of winter this year.
A bit less than 2 weeks later, on March 29th, the front flower bed looked like this, my "mechanical burn" having cleared off the remnants of last year's exuberance, opening up the soil for the sun's warmth and for the emergence of this year's fresh, new growth....
Meanwhile, in the back courtyard where shade simulates more of a prairie woodland environment, the woodland flowers were just beginning to emerge. Well, actually, the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) had already emerged and was almost done blooming. Woodland plants are often small, easily overlooked among large, showy clumps of daffodils and bright, shining clusters of purple crocus. I almost missed the bloodroot blossoms!
In another area of the back courtyard beds, two little rue anemones (Thalictrum thalictroides) were emerging.
I am going to have to stop here for now - it's late and I need to get to bed. The upcoming week is going to be full and I'm not likely to be able to blog again for a while - but don't forget the native wildflowers! I've only managed to bring you up to the end of March so far. In the chronology of the spring garden, the daffodils and hyacinths have just started blooming, the purple crocuses are in their full glory, and the spinach is just starting to germinate in the glass light shade "cold frames".
We'll resume our springtime travels through time in the native plant garden when next we meet! In the meantime, happy gardening!