October 30, 2014

Chandra L. Mattingly

Biography and photo

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Signs of Spring
Written by Chandra L. Mattingly   
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 6:21 PM

My senses say signs of spring surround me, even though true spring is over two months away.

Our front yard is peppered with purple snow crocus, which have been blooming since Tuesday, Jan. 29. The cold snap and snow later that week barely thwarted the first blooms, and now the tiny forest gleams in the sunshine. The honeybees shift from clump to clump on warmer days, or gather pollen from the dandelions which never quit blooming this winter, or from maple and willow trees which also are blooming now.

Nearby the snowdrops are poking up their greenish-white buds, and everywhere other bulb flowers are reaching toward the sun with green, strap-like leaves.

Out back, two bright yellow winter aconite buds have popped open, and the song birds are filling the air with cheerful trills. Some days the breeze feels warm, and on sunny days the heat of our star sinks into bare skin and even through clothing.

On a recent walk through town, the contrast between sun and wind was distinct. During the gusts of wind, we were quite happy to snuggle into our coats and warm hats; when the wind died down, the sun's warmth had us unzipping jackets!

Despite looking, I saw no blooms in others' yards on that walk, aside from a robust clump of gold crocus at Hoosier Girl Square. These early flowers are so cheering, I don't understand why more folks don't pop a few bulbs in the ground to enjoy year after year after year!

Indoors, the first fat bud of an amaryllis has emerged, and many of the seeds I start for our garden and my plant sale have sprouted. The tomatoes, lavender, lemon eucalyptus, onions, leeks and shallots are well up, as are sweet peppers. The pinks, cardinal flowers, oriental poppies, elecampane, eggplant, purple coneflower and rosemary are just breaking ground, with parsley, thyme, cabbage and broccoli soon to follow.

If you haven't already, now is a good time to start onion and related seeds. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant can be started anytime from now to early March for decent-sized transplants. Most annual flowers are best started later in March.

This week I moved two pots of hyacinths indoors, from over a dozen I potted in late fall and set outside. They need about eight weeks of cold weather before coming inside to bloom, and many years the ones in the ground are blooming by the time my forced ones bud. But I so love their beauty and their intoxicating fragrance!

Spring cannot be far away!