Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Glimmer of Spring in the Pacific Northwest

Here in the Upper Left Corner USA, the first tentative signs of spring are starting to take hold. After a few months now of mostly slate gray skies, lots of rain, and bare deciduous trees, little tender green shoots and delicate blossoms are like an exhale of relief on the landscape.  

The natives (and non-natives) are waking up again.

I've been fortunate to have some daylight time to walk in the lowland forest near my northwest Seattle home to witness the emergence. Each year I look forward to seeing the sweet little snowdrops bursting upward through last fall's downed leaves in a patch of forest just north of historic Piper's Orchard in Carkeek Park.

Although these aren't native plants, these remnant bulbs from long ago, perhaps a century, have spreadSame for the crocus pushing up throughout an undeveloped corner down the block from my house. Like the snowdrops, not many have fully blossomed yet.

Down in the woods at Carkeek, the native Indian plums (Oemleria cerasiformis) are just barely unfurling. Within a few weeks or less, this will be an extravagant cluster of tiny white blossoms.

Although the forest is still pretty barren except for ubiquitous sword ferns and moss, it's these little treasures that add a spice of anticipation to my regular walks now.

Down at Golden Gardens on Puget Sound yesterday, I looked down and noticed the abundant English daisies are already well in bloom, bright and cheery.

Even the moss growing on decomposing logs in the woods is looking fresh and sending up new shoots.

So while the hillsides are wintry brown and the goldeneyes are still hanging around Puget Sound, if you observe more closely, glimmers of spring are increasing by the day.

 Barrow's Goldeneyes, seen in Puget Sound during the winter but usually gone by April.

Indian plum
 Is spring springing where you live? What signs of spring have you noticed?

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Suezy Proctor said...

You have started the mind movie reel winding. All I can see are images of the Arboretum, lace leaf maples, tree and bush branches changing colors and creeping flox of bright pinks and deep magentas. I love fiddlehead ferns – preferably sautéed; in eggs; tossed in salads. I’m sure the camellias and forsythia aren’t too far behind along with azaleas, then rhodies.

Here in Northern Alabama, Centipede Grass, sometimes referred to as "China grass" or "Chinese lawn grass," (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a slow-growing perennial turfgrass that spreads by stolons (aboveground stems) that resemble centipedes. Its popularity as a home lawn turfgrass is due to its low maintenance requirements and its adaptation to either full sun or partial shade conditions.

China grass turns completely bleach blond in the winter. Right now, it looks very splotchy, as patches of green are popping up and taking over...reclaiming their turf. Our irrigation runoff ditches and ponds are full of watercress-Yum! One variety of magnolias are blooming. I wait in anticipation to see what spring looks like before the big cherry blossom explosion that happens spectacularly here. I’ve been here many times while on work assignments; cherry blossom time is what made me initially fall in love with the area.
I notice nesting birds and mating ducks. The dove couple is back and nesting under the eve of our front porch. I love to hear their cooing to each other in the morning - so pretty with the sounds of our wind chimes accompanying them.

Mostly, I noticed that I can see clearly at 6 PM. Light. Light is what I miss most in winter. Seeing – observing the world around me is my thing. Let there be light!

JoJo said...

We still have a ways to go although one of my friends posted a pic of a crocus coming up in her yard. Our winter's been milder than last.

Lainey Piland said...

Beautiful photos!!! How refreshing to see new green things starting to grow, and Indian plum leave sprouting already!

I'm so excited that I can now say NEXT MONTH I get to start trillium hunting! :) Winter flew by yet again, but at least the mountains have snow this year.

Anonymous said...

You reminded me of what I look for in spring: first, the January tassel blooms of our native witch hazel (hamamelis Mollis), then Indian plum - which in Seattle often coincides with Valentine's Day, but in the foothills around Hobart (900'?) is 3+ weeks later. I love the lime green foliage of the Indian plum, and also love watching the leaves peak out and then unfurl - so delicate! That's about the same time that the chorus frogs start mating - still very loud where they are numerous!

Jill said...

Suezy, love your vivid descriptions! I've always heard how wonderful springtime is in the South. And the sound of doves cooing against a backdrop of wind chimes - perfect!
Still mostly dark here by 6 pm these days though. I consider it a triumph that we can see clearly now at 5 pm. :)

JoJo, yes I remember my winter/spring in the NE, much colder and later spring. I hope you're keeping warm! Take care.

Laura said...

Thank you so much for this post! I needed a reminder that spring is on the way with the rainy days we've had. It makes me so happy to see that things are sprouting and beginning to bloom.

Anonymous said...

well its not spring yet folks. Yes the early bulbs are up and so very welcome and the winter garden at the arboretum is in full swing. and I really want to be out cleaning up the messy home garden and it is a mess because i leave all the seed heads on for the critters. I really want to prune the roses - and if I did they would respond with new growth which would be killed by that late frost in Feb/March. What is really fun this time of the year is what is up and Jill you pretty much nailed the lovely early ones. Notice the potatoes in your larder - sprouting as they haven't through the winter. So enjoy the early bulbs, winter blooming witch hazel, sweet scented box and the Daphne and hellebore. Interesting how many of the winter bloomers are so fragrant Mary Lou

ashley g said...

Love it! I get sooo happy to see signs of life in February! I have some snowdrops blooming in my front yard and when I noticed them the other day it brought a smile to my face. :)