Robins and Daffodils and The Case of the Missing Rain

If the Daffodils are up, it must be February. Who needs a calendar when you can look out your front window and see this:

daffodil closeup

Daffodils: Just the Beginning

I’m amazed year after year that those tiny, brown orbs buried beneath the soil know exactly what to do and when.

For years I drooled over the Holland Bulb catalogs, but so many of the flowers need a really cold winter to do well. I tried tulips, refrigerating them first for six weeks in the crisper. Time in the cold environment simulates winter. The first year nothing came up. I wondered if I planted them too deeply or perhaps upside down. Maybe they rotted in the ground? There was no evidence that they’d been devoured by a critter.  I tried again about a decade later, once again lulled by the promise of beautiful tulips in my garden. About half of the bulbs produced beautiful blooms, but by the following year I was down to one.

After a bit of research I learned that Daffodil bulbs (narcissus) are toxic to squirrels so they leave them alone. They don’t require a cold winter and they can stay in the ground year round. Now that’s my kind of bulb.

Using the broadcast method where you toss the bulbs to the ground, then plant them where they land, I filled the curb garden box with 50 bulbs.  Every last one of them bloomed!

daffodil collage feb 5 and 10

Daffodils: February 5th and 10th

daffodil trio

Daffodil Trio

Emboldened, I bought 25 more bulbs the following year, this time the two-toned variety. They’re coming into bloom about a week after the original planting.

pair of two toned daffodil

What’s Up, Buttercup: A Two-toned Daffodil

Also outside my kitchen window this past week: A thirsty flock of Robins.

three red robins

Trio of Robins

Though the American Robin is common throughout the States, we don’t usually see them flock in our neighborhood. Over the past two weeks, no doubt prompted by our strangely warm, spring-like weather, they’ve been gathering in nearby trees and drinking at our watering hole. Robins are handsome birds with an equally delightful song.

They prefer a meal of worms, but once the ground is frozen, they’ll migrate and then feast on berries. All that flying back and forth between trees means they’ve left quite a mess in their wake. You take the good with the bad, right?

I made myself late to Pilates last Thursday as I went into the kitchen for some water and fled for my camera instead. There were at least a dozen robins, one sitting in the water fountain, and the rest taking turns for a drink. By the time I put the microchip in the camera, then found a place to take pictures hiding around the corner of the garage several had moved on. I still got a few shots in and around my MacGyvered watering hole and garden.

robins drinking from the fountain

Robins taking turns at the watering hole

The garden is coming alive with color.  We’ve had ten days of unseasonably high temperatures but only a trace of rain. Today, San Jose may tie a record high set in 1943. February is traditionally our rainiest month. In a state that counts its rainfall in fractions, February is the star with an average of 3.31 inches (8.41 cm) of rain. Our annual rain fall is only about 15 inches. It’s February 15th and we’ve only recorded 0.05 inches! So while it sounds uncharitable to complain about blue skies and warm weather…well, I’m complaining.  We desperately need more rain.

If your swimming in surplus precipitation, please send it our way.