Friday, 9 March 2012

Post-winter treasure hunting

When the weather allows us to take a step outside our homes, and the temperature is high enough to be able to work with our hands without mittens, it is time to check out the garden. We hereby declare the gardening season opened!
So, what plants did not survive, and which ones are sprouting already? What can we do already now? What should be changed? The garden looks pretty brown and miserable right now. Cold destroys the cells in the leaves and stems, which give them this jelly structure and brown-greyish color. However, there are already some greens and even flowers coming up here and there, but most of them require a very close look. It is fun to inspect the garden and look for the first signs of life, and it is really rewarding if you find something beautifully tiny. 

Underneath and between the grey leaves are little flowers such as coltsfoot, but also the better known ones such as hyacinths, snowdrops and daffodils. Coltsfoot is one of the few species that blooms before it makes leaves. It is also a medicinal plant which is especially useful in this season for it relieves coughs and throat sore (don't use the flowers though). Witch hazel is by the way the first shrub that blooms. It has tiny pink flowers which can only be seen if you look very, very closely. 

Not only the flowers are pretty, also the forming of leaves (columbine in the picture) and buds on trees show interesting shapes; cosily folded into each other, waiting until the cold runs over to open proudly and powerfully. 
The main activities to carry out right now are cutting off dead stems and leaves from previous growths, and uncover the new plants. It helps the sprouts to catch the most of this season's scarcely available sun, and the remains will be slowly transformed into nutrients and used by the plants to grow. It is the essence of spring cleaning: making place for a fresh new start.

P.s. Unexpectedly we discovered even more tiny treasures that colored our garden:

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