Last week, there was a foot of slushy snow on the ground. Today, as I cleaned out the front flower bed, trimmed roses and admired the daffodil and woodland hyacinth sprouts, I spotted crocus in the middle of the lawn.
The crocus popped up overnight and bloomed promptly in the balmy 50° F weather.
Black and iridescent green Diptera or two-winged flies, which feed on rotting matter were around the flowers chewing up turf decayed during the long winter.
The bugs are back, so it must be spring!
Black flies are feasting on rotting grass and looking for nectar on the crocus.
Male red-winged blackbirds have returned, too. I’ve seen a dozen males in the area, each already staking out its territory. The males return north a couple weeks ahead of the females so that they have land and a house (nest) built to attract the most desirable of the ladies.
Tulips are pushing out of the shredded leaves and compost mulch, too. I can hardly wait until Zoomerschoon, a cream and strawberry flame tulip I purchased from Old House Heirloom Bulbs blooms. This antique, first found in 1620, is in my humble opinion the most beautiful of the streaked tulips of Tulipmania. They carried a virus in their genes that ''broke'' colors in breathtaking patterns.
Zoomerschoon, an antique from the 1600's, is my favorite tulip. Sprouts are already up!
Living in frigid USDA Climate Zone 4b, along the Wisconsin-Illinois border, I’ve become used to late springs and a persisting snow pack into April in most years. So this is a treat, especially after a record-breaking blizzard four weeks ago.
I’m enjoying every new green sprout that pokes out of the ground and the balmy 55F sunshine. And I’m anxious to plant. I have mums, lettuce, herbs, miniature cabbage and ‘Veronica’ green cauliflower transplants indoors under lights, ready to harden off. Guess it’s time to start putting them outdoors in a sheltered spot during the day.
Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.