Spring the Drama Queen
Longing for Spring
First the snowmelt, then the rain.
Up here, in Quebec and Ontario, the weather between mid April and mid May is volatile. A snowstorm in the second week of April can bury the crocus blooms, budding tulips, irises and lilies in a foot of snow. It's not a problem. Within days the snow melts and the new growths welcome the sun and unfurl. On rainy days, even in the city, you can smell the clean; you can see the grass greening, the trees budding, and the air is sweeter for it.
Magic is in the Air
The day and night activity which brings renewed life to the grass, trees, and flora is spectacular. The trees awaken as if by magic and produce gazillions of miniature red leaves budding on the maple trees. Not that the trees were sleeping much given the March maple syrup harvest after the first thaw.
By the first of May everything begins to grow in heaps and bounds. You can see the pale baby leaves fill out the hedges, lilac and maple trees within a single week. The magnolia bushes and trees are in full bloom, the tulips and rhododendron set the stage, and the new grass and dandelions paint the sides of the highways a festive yellow and green.
Sun-Napping - Sleep All Day, Party All Night
Welcome Back - Canada Geese & American Robins
Swarms of geese honk their excitement as they fly over the city to their northern destination. Most Canada Geese have staging or resting areas where they join up with others, usually along the shoreline. Sometimes in a not-so-welcome place like downtown Malone.
Robins return to us from their sojourn in Florida or Mexico as soon as the mild weather begins in March or April. They wake up the roosters, then clean lawns and gardens as the day is long.
After the Crocuses
My favorite blue flowers spread like wildfire through a section of my garden. They even spill over into the grass. I put off mowing until they're almost done, then pick the last of them for a vase or teapot in the house.
When the forget-me-nots are finished flowering I let the seeds mature then rub the stems to make the seeds fall off into the soil for the following spring. I dig in and plant whatever I want in that same area, it doesn't affect them at all.
Love the Wild Flowers
Picking wild flowers is against the law, but picking a tiny bit from a plant in the wild (not in council or otherwise protected land) is okay. So I took this little bit home from the country and after a couple years it grew into this little bush. Unfortunately wild flowers aren’t adapted to the city (scorching heat & pollution) so they don’t last as long as most perennials.
Decorative Bird Feeders - The Choice is Yours
There are countless types and shapes of bird feeders which attract many different species of birds. There are peanut feeders for the blue jays and woodpeckers, the sweet cups for hummingbirds, and the window feeders for avid bird lovers or just to entertain your indoor cat. Cylindrical sunflower seed feeders for finches, cardinals, and millet mix feeders for smaller birds: sparrow, wren, chickadee, nuthatch, warbler, titmouse...
What you don't want is for the squirrel to come around and scarf down the contents of the feeder in one sitting. So it's best to get squirrel-proof feeders for the birds, and a big bag of peanuts to treat the occasional squirrel. Just don't leave the bag of peanuts near an open doorway. They will take off with it and hide it outside while you're not looking!
Fill Your Bird Feeders - And They Will Come
Spring always includes the return of a variety of colorful song birds; the lovely cacophony of which may have you smiling or wincing in the first months of the breeding season.
The House Finch is similar in size and food preferences as the American Goldfinch. The male's red coloration varies in intensity with the seasons.
American Goldfinches are the strictest vegetarians in the bird world and they prefer hanging column feeders as opposed to box shaped ones. They’ll also eat from bird platforms at your window if sunflower or thistle seeds are offered.
Birds Love Black Oil Sunflower SeedsClick thumbnail to view full-size
An Exciting Time for Birds
Birds sing, call and squawk repeatedly, claiming their territory and looking for a mate. Even birds who have one life partner, like Canada geese, are more vocal. In the city, I find the most insufferable birds are the black crows. Their ear-splitting barking can be heard a quarter mile away, and they multiply by 4-6 offspring each year! In the country, in the early morning, it's the turtle doves' sorrowful cooing until I get up and close the window. I love nature, but not when I'm trying to sleep!
Which is Your Morning Bird?
The Vegetable Garden
The soil in the garden must be tilled and prepped for a new crop. In the back of the yard (on the left) the sticks are leaning against the fence, anxiously awaiting the tomato and cucumber plants. The sugar snap peas are already germinating. The radishes and green onions abound.
Simple Arbor Garden - Evergreens Embellish the Landscape Year-Round
The Largest Garden
Luckily we don't have to water the rapeseed. Related to mustard, turnip, cabbage, rutabaga, and Brussels sprouts, the rapeseed is an oilseed plant used in ancient civilization as a fuel. Yum. In Canada it's been modified to make Canola. When in bloom the rapeseed does make the land look divine.
In this garden the greens, legumes and forbs are nutritious and yummy.
A woodpecker hangs out with a Black-Capped Chickadee. These birds are often found in each others' company.
Did you know that woodpeckers’ toes differ from other birds? Instead of three toes in front and one in back, woodies have two in front and two in back for a better grip on tree bark. They have also evolved a number of adaptations to protect their brains from all that drilling, drumming and hammering.
In the Country
A Northern Flicker ~ or Ground Woodpecker, aerates the lawn in his search for spring delicacies (you don’t want to know). But he is cute to watch!
Wild Roses Thrive on the Fence - Who doesn't have some of these?
Wild roses are difficult to contain and trim back, but they live through any kind of winter and come back more resplendent than ever in the Spring.
Follow the Leader
Or should I say garden plants that do what they want, where and when they want. It can be appreciated if you've lots of land. Scores of raspberry bushes and spearmint that take up more than their corner each year. In this garden it's the spring onions (with remnants of mint). When they're small they're great, but they grow big quickly, and how much onion can a body eat? The fence does go on and on.
Apples for Everyone
Quebec, Ontario, Maine, Vermont and New York are teeming with apple orchards, where you can buy or pick your own apples by the bagsful. In the spring it's maple syrup, in the autumn it's apple pie, candy apple, apple strudel, apple everything your little heart desires. Anyone can have an apple tree in their yard.
Perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated, the apple tree and its fruits have been improved through selection over thousands of years. From the rose family, apple blossoms are a beauty in themselves; all together, they're breathtaking.
New in Town?
Photos and text in this hub (c) Carol Houle unless otherwise stated.
Many thanks to Lynda Bissonette for her photo contribution.
Bird Feeder Vaseline Trick Stops Squirrel...
© 2013 Carol Houle