Looking Forward to Spring

My heart quickens this time of year. Spring is a treat for the heart and soul and a gift to gardeners the world over.

Lots of color in the curb garden

After a year fraught with unpredictability, I find comfort in the familiar. A trip through the garden teases all the wonderful things to come: buds and bulbs emerge, old-growth gives way to the new, and even the emerging weeds portend more time outdoors.

In the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox arrives on March 20, 2021. It signals the beginning of spring, though the changes are subtle in California. While much of this country is buried in snow and killer ice, our risk of a hard frost has safely passed.

Self-seeding sweet peas, cornflowers and poppies line the sidewalk. Soon they’ll be in full bloom

There are fewer opportunities to plant these days. Like most gardeners, a brown patch of soil is quickly filled with something new. I’ve reserved my EarthBoxยฎ for a tomato crop, but the garden is otherwise fully occupied. That’s not a bad thing, per se, but I do love adding new color here and there.

Front garden facing house. Within a month this will fill in once again.
Garden patch along driveway
Side yard shared with neighbor (lemon tree, dinosaur topiary, and other assorted plants)
Abundant lemons this year (they really are yellow, though they look orange in this photo)

Birdsong and buzzing bees are the soundtracks of the season. The effervescent Ana’s hummingbirds are ever-present, but their numbers grow. I spotted one gathering fluff for her nest last week, wishing for the thousandth time that I had my camera in tow. I let the anemone flowers go to seed in the fall. They open like a kernel of popcorn in late winter, producing small clouds of soft white down. It’s always a treat to see the birds grab a bit of fluff.

Anemone flowers gone to seed in foreground. Volunteer spider plants along the fence line.
This is a blurry photo from a few years ago, but I’m included it as evidence of this charming visitor

Of course, not all “fluff” is intended for nature but tell that to the squirrels. The original cover of our swing is dismantled every year. The California Grey squirrels shred the cover to get to the batting inside. I repaired this corner a few years ago using an old tea towel and polyester batting. Apparently, the squirrels are not that discerning. They’ve torn through the tea towel to get to the synthetic batting inside. How do they know it’s there? Why do they want that scratchy stuff for their nest? Rhetorical questions, I know.

Swing carnage
Swing cover damage

I treated myself to a pair of new gardening tools this weekend: a pair of clippers and a long-handled weeder. I’m counting myself lucky that I made it out of the store without serious injury. The edge of that tool is sharp. I’m ridiculously excited to use it, though, on a patch of unwanted grassy weeds.

Tessa in the garden

Spring is around the corner, and the vaccine rollout is finally underway Things are looking up! I’m ready.

35 thoughts on “Looking Forward to Spring

  1. It all looks lovely. Still quite cold here but my birds are increasing so I assume they know more than I. Praying for a turn in situations world wide. Take care and enjoy all the beauty around you.

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    • Hello Amy! It’s so nice to hear from you. Those birds are wise beyond my comprehension. I think we can count on them to see us through. It’s been a brutal year around the world. I hope we’ve turned a corner. I hope your spring is full of color and birdsong as well.

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  2. Glorious, glorious! Right now, Maine is in the grip of an Arctic blast—20 below zero plus power outages. Fortunately, the power outage wasn’t too long. Seeing your yard and gardens was sheer joy, but the best was that kitty face at the end.

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    • Tessa melts hearts, that is for sure. Too bad she can’t melt your ice as well. I’ve heard about the bitter cold in Maine. You are brave to endure those winters. I’m sorry to hear about the power outages as well. It’s been a difficult few weeks for many in this country. The lack of water, too, is so scary. I hope this is the last of your brutal storms.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Spring is really pretty at your house. Everything looks healthy and colourful and I’m betting it smells fresh too. Sorry about your swing cushion. We can’t leave ours out of course, even in the summer, it just rains too much. Do you sit out much during your winter? Maybe you’ll need to put it in over those months? Those cute squirrels would be so sad though.
    Might be hard for you to imagine, but I’m actually not of fan of spring in Edmonton. It’s nice when the weather warms up, but we’re left with grit, sand and gravel on the roadways and sidewalks from our yearly battle with winter. It’s always so dirty and dusty. By the time June rolls around though, the city sweepers have normally done their thing and we start to enjoy parks again. Enjoy those pretty spring blooms lovely, looks like Tessa is too ๐Ÿ˜€ xoK

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    • As much as I love our swing and the fact that it was a Mother’s Day gift from my guys, it has its challenges. The frame is wide, which is great for stability, but not for storing elsewhere. The swinging part is removable, but again, heavy and awkward. There is no room for it in the garage, and sadly, that is the only storage option we have. I’ve covered it with large sheets of plastic in the past, but I can’t seal it, so the squirrels get inside.

      This is the first season I didn’t even bother covering it. It’s looking so shabby, but when the warm weather is here to stay, I’ll once again repair the damage and disinfect the surface before covering it with something pretty.

      I’m sorry to hear that you miss out on a lovely spring. Your growing season is short, too. I know you try to make the best of May, June, and July.

      xo

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  4. We are still in the long, broad tail of summer… So much is brown and dry, and where it isn’t, it’s long and rank and leggy. I’m looking forward to all this tropical lushness calming down and going quiet for a few months in the Dry. Fresh mornings, cool evenings, beautiful sunrises. And while you are all in the downslope to fall, we will be in spring, or at least, the start of the Wet, since the tropics really only have two true seasons: the Wet and the Dry, with just a few short weeks of transition either side. Enjoy all your beautiful spring colour and the fun of planning the garden year ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Kate, it’s so interesting reading about different climates around the world. I’m originally from Ontario, Canada, a place with four distinct seasons. It was bizarre celebrating our first Christmas without snow, whereas for you, that’s the norm: warm and sunny. It’s yet another thing I’ve loved about blogging. I’m learning every day.

      The worst of the wildfires tend to arrive at the end of our summer, so what used to be a pleasant and welcome time of year is now fraught with worry.

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  5. Your spring flowers are wonderful Alys! I will have to wait some time to see my Californian poppies and Love in the Mist, so it’s nice to get a preview here! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can’t believe those squirrels have done it AGAIN! Maybe you need a straw filling instead! (But then some other creature might want straw for its nest!) LOL! Take care with your weeder.

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    • Hi Cathy! I always look forward to your spring and summer posts. Your gardens (new and former) are stunning.

      It really is hard to know what kind of filling to use. The original cover had piping. I remember the time I spent making my own bias strips to cover the cording, and then how quickly they chewed through the fabric to get to the cotton cord inside. It was soft so I understand the appeal. I really am surprised to see them go after this rough polyester batting, but perhaps they are using it for insulation and will line it with something else. I wish I could attach a tiny camera on the nest-builder. That would be interesting and fun.

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      • Oh yes, that would be fascinating to see how they build. We had a squirrel build a kind of nest between an upstairs window and the air con unit! He never moved in and when I removed it later in the year it was just a shapeless bundle of twigs and grass!

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  6. Tess is the prettiest flower isn’t she ๐Ÿฅฐ
    How are your cats with the birds? We have such an abundance of bird life here I have taken to only letting my cats out after nightfall which is fine at the minute but, once the days grow longer, I’ll be letting them out as we go to bed and I don’t want them out at dawn either. It’s a difficult one ๐Ÿ˜พ

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    • Tess *is* the prettiest flower! I never tire of looking at her sweet face. We do the opposite here, keeping the cats in at night and letting them out during the day. There are occasional roaming raccoons, so the cats seem safer indoors. Lindy is almost 19 so she spends most of her days sleeping in my son’s closet. Mouse is too corpulant to catch anything, so that just leaves Tessa. She likes to hang out on the compost bin at dusk watching the rats come and go. She’s not a very good hunter (and I’m good with that). I have several friends with cat enclosures that work well. Think of a screened in porch for kitties, but instead of furniture they have climbing posts and platforms. I wonder what your kitties would think of that? One friend has an enclosure that the cats access from an indoor window. Another friend had one built off the back of the garage. The cats can go inside if the weather turns, or they can hang out in the catery.

      The hummingbirds love our Abutilan flowers, so I try to remove the lower flowers to keep the birds focused higher off the ground. Cats are a huge problem the world over when it comes to birds. It’s a challenge when you love all living things.

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      • Interesting website, thank you Alys. In France we had a conservatory which we could access from both our living room and our kitchen. We put a cat flap in the conservatory door so the cats could come and go as they pleased and we put a couple of cat trees and lots of comfy seats in there. That way, if they bought in shrews/voles/mice/birds, they didn’t get as far as the rest of the house with them. We didn’t have the variety of birds we have here though so, although the occasional one did become prey, I think it would be much worse here. Yesterday evening two of them were sitting by the side of the pond trying to catch fish. ๐Ÿ™„

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  7. Oh, how I LOVE to visit your garden in early March, Alys! So much color everywhere… with even more to come! Enjoy every peaceful moment in the garden, my friend.
    Here in Illinois (Zone 5), we must wait until May 15th for our safe planting day. Last Spring, for the first time I didnโ€™t even venture out to the garden center to buy new plants. So, I am very excited to add a few new herbs to my white picket fence garden and some colorful annuals to fill containers on the front porch! The promise of vaccines offers me so much hope this Spring!!
    Thank you for the lovely garden tour. Canโ€™t wait to see more! Stay safe and healthy, dear Alys!๐Ÿ’—

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  8. I am so glad that your year is looking hopeful, and that your garden is starting to bloom. I always love wandering through your garden, as there is always something delightful to see. I am even intrigued by the squirrels attacking the swing seat. And as for hummingbirds….I would love to sit and watch them flit!
    Our Summer has been really cool, the coldest for 17 years apparently. At least we haven’t had the scorching days and north winds, but many things, like tomato plants have just sat and sulked. Not the weeds though, they seem to have loved the cooler conditions ~ but don’t weeds just seem to love any condition? ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

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  9. Your spring comes so early to inspire the rest of us with hopefulness. I saw a few of my daffodils up this morning on the hill as I was cleaning up another load of yard debris in the back. It’s like a perpetual spring there and you have such unique flowers in your garden. I have no Tessa’s here anywhere. ๐Ÿ™‚ Doesn’t the garden just bring us back to that place of peace in the breath of a moment? So glad to see you here again. Those look like Meyers lemons. They tend to be more to the orange/yellow color. People pay a lot more for them. You have to love the industriousness of a squirrel. Hugs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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