A Spring Treasure Hunt (or Why I Don't Mow Just Yet)
It's April, and warm weather is imminent here on the east coast of the mid-Atlantic state of Delaware. At the moment, though, we are in a waiting pattern: We're waiting for consistent temperatures without wild swings from high to low all in the same day. We're waiting to make the seasonal adjustment to open windows and lighter clothing. We're waiting to finally pack away our coats, but we can't do that yet since mornings are often still in the 30s and 40s in this neck of the woods.
Since we live with such springtime temperature disparities between day and night, most of us are in a holding pattern. However, some hardy souls have already trimmed their lawns, tilled their gardens and planted their flower beds. That can be tricky here on the Delmarva Peninsula in April; we can get frost even in May. Yes, we are collectively waiting just a few more weeks for the end of spring as it transitions into summer.
Sure, I would like to get out there today—indeed, I should have been outdoors before now—to turn over my flower beds so I can place bedding plants inside them. Sure, my husband is anxious to till the vegetable garden and mow the lawn. But I have asked him to wait. Just a little longer.
You see, I am enjoying every moment of untouched spring.
In April, I can finally take a comfortable walk around my yard looking for treasures, for I have waited patiently through several cold winter months when such riches are scarce. Though there may be treasures outside year-round, they are hard to find in the cold when they lie dormant; they have been waiting just as I have been.
It is often the grape hyacinths that are the first to welcome me back each spring as I venture outdoors. I marvel at the offspring of a handful of bulbs carried here two decades ago that have now spread all over the yard in clusters. I don't mind their dispersion. They create pleasant bluish accents throughout the property as they reward me with their distinctive beauty and form. Yellow forsythia is also a welcome sight and lovely but will revert to green very soon now that it is approaching mid-spring.These traditional cultivated spring plants are pleasant as always, but my favorite escape right now is to spend a leisurely hour or two on the hill and marvel in the tiny wild delights that surround me. The miniature white chickweed flowers that bloom atop the lush, natural ground cover there are at their very best in April. The hill beckons me to come have a closer look at its offerings:
A walk around back took me to the fallow vegetable garden, another refuge where purple dead nettles presently stand erect and proud and regal. Beautiful!
Though seemingly serene, it's a busy world here on the hill: Bees are busy gathering nectar as their legs collect dandelion pollen. Butterflies flit erratically and then alight on the many henbit blooms. Grasshopper and katydid nymphs hop all around as I sit and marvel at the quiet beauty of the untamed ground cover with its riches that might otherwise go unnoticed.
I then searched for little wild pansies, or Johnny jump-ups. They scatter about each year but are not hard to find. It's a treat to discover one with purple markings, and I tell myself that I should transplant this one to a safer place, away from the yard work that is soon to come.
Yes, summer is imminent, but I am enjoying the enchantment of spring undisturbed 'til I can wait no longer. That will be when the window closes altogether on this special, delicate, ethereal moment. It's just a matter of time now, and so I will miss these days when, for me, the season stands still.
Common names of plants are linked to their botanical names for further study. The photos were taken in April 2011 in Ellendale, Delaware by Timmy Jo and are available in the Dave's Garden PlantFiles.
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