The wonderful thing about a digital library of photos is that you have a very quick and accurate time machine. I took a trip back through the years today prompted by a conversation I had with a customer. “This March is so different!” she mused. “I don’t remember a year when it was this bad. My bulbs are up and they want it to be spring, but it’s too early.” While I assured her that the bulbs were fine, and no, she didn’t have to cover them, I decided to check and see just how different, or similar, March of 2018 is to early spring for the past ten years. Here’s a small taste of what I found.
On March 9th in 2008 Country Garden had their pansies in and we’d planted some outside the front of the store. Yes, they got snowed on. Several times. But they were just fine. We will be getting pansies in this week or early next week I understand, so we’re pretty much on schedule with ten years ago.
In mid-March of 2009 I took this photo of the winter damage on boxwood outside the Harwich Community Center. We have assorted winter damage on evergreens this year as well, from Boxwood to Leyland Cypress and Rhododendrons. (Wait and clip back your boxwoods later in April or May. Most winter-damaged leaves will fall off on their own, so don’t be too hasty.)
On March 14th in 2010 my daylily plants were up. They are about this size in 2018. The daffodil foliage was up and it is in my gardens this year as well. So again, pretty much the same.
On March 9th in 2011 the daffodils were up. In fact, in every single March from 2005 to now, I have taken photos of daffodil leaves poking at least three inches out of the ground. So clearly, Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when it comes to bulb foliage and early spring.
On March 13th in 2012 the crocus were flowering in selected places. Yes, they have been in bloom in selected places for the past two weeks on the Cape.
In mid-March of 2013 the pussy willows were open. They are at the same stage now, in 2018.
My witch hazel was in flower on March 10th of 2014. In fact, I have photos of this plant in bloom at the same time every year since I planted it in 2009.
On March 17th, 2014 I took a photo of the rhubarb starting to poke up. It’s not quite at this stage as I write this on March 9th, but I’m willing to bet that by the 17th it will be.
On March 12th of 2015 I had no idea what most of my plants were doing because they were buried in snow. I can assume that the bulbs were up, but this was the year that it started snowing at the end of January and didn’t stop until the end of March. I’m very glad that 2018 isn’t a repeat of 2015!
Every year in March I notice how brilliant the moss is and how lovely the lichens in the trees are. As the temperatures are usually above freezing during the days in March, mosses and lichens spring to life. I loved how this patch of moss formed “socks and shoes” for this old, wild blueberry bush in 2016.
In 2017 in mid-March the pussy willows were out, and we had some light snow. These black pussy willows make a great contrast with the white snow.
So you see that March is always this combination of one step forward and one step back. We always have Nature moving forward with her plans of growth and renewal, while winter weather tries to get a few last licks in. And we humans are leaning forward, wishing that spring would just arrive quickly.
A final word to the wise: Don’t plant peas on Saint Patricks Day. It’s far to early and the ground is too cold. If you plant them in cold, wet soil they will just rot before our Cape Cod weather is solidly in the growing season. You can stick some pansies in your containers now, but wait to plant peas in mid-April.