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Why Crocuses Bring the Spring

purple flowers garden

Crocuses are the first spring ephemerals

Why crocuses? Just a few weeks ago, snow and ice were everywhere. Yesterday, walking through the dormant garden, we found the first pop of color! These little beauties add a lovely violet accent to the lawn. The dormant garden may be sleeping, but there is actually so much life just beneath the surface.

I think these were originally planted in a border along the lawn, some years ago, but they show up along the entire lawn now. We love it! We are no-till and of course, working towards a permaculture garden. So a healthy layer of dead leaves is serving as mulch. Doesn’t seem to bother these little blooms at all!

Three purple crocus flowers viewed from above.
Happy crocuses in the morning sunshine.

Spring lifts the spirits

At this point in the year, spring is well on its way. I’ve started some seeds indoors. The indoor trees in their pots are starting to go outside during the day to harden them off. (Our lemon tree actually sprouted some new leaves!)

As I write this, I realize that the aloes, fern, and a small cactus will feel left out. Not to worry, they have now gone out into the sunshine as well.

green and gray bird perching on aloe vera plant
Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

Still, nothing is really happening outside… yet. Well, not in the garden.

A lot is happening in the forest. There are visible buds on the top branches of the tallest trees. The migratory birds have returned in force. The geese have paired off. The mallards have returned. The flock of turkey buzzards down the road seems to have doubled in size since last spring. No eagles yet. Many hawks and owls. The resident heron circled a few times yesterday on reconnaissance.

In the garden, though, the dominant color scheme is still wintery. So these signs of rebellion are very welcome!

About a dozen purple crocuses bursting through the brown leaves.
Looking cheerful

Crocuses are hardy perennials

Hidden for most of the year, the crocuses are ready to take their moment in the sun the instant winter starts to recede. They rely on a robust root system just under the lawn. Mowing doesn’t bother them. Foot traffic over the grass in the warmer months has no effect.

In fact, they seem to spread a little further every year. Since the grass isn’t much to look at this early anyway, all the better. A little later in the spring we will have so many bluebells. I can’t wait. Do you have a favorite spring ephemeral? To me, they are just the best.

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Ripening Blackberries

I am eagerly awaiting fresh ripe blackberries from the first plant from three years ago. Last year, there were a couple of handfuls of berries and they were delicious. This year, we will add bird netting and see if we can keep more of the blackberries for ourselves.

Berry-producing shrubs amaze me because in the proper environment, they get bigger and better every year with minimal input. It’s a good thing, too. Birds and squirrels enjoy them almost as much as humans. Hopefully with enough berries there will be a chance to make crumble and compote and syrup. Fingers crossed.

The two big takeaways from last year?

First, the blackberry grows the cane the first year, and produces fruit on it the second year. After the cane has produced fruit, it is important to remove the spent canes. This helps to prevent the plant viruses that raspberries and blackberries tend to suffer from.

Second, I have read that if you prune the tips of the primary cane, the plant will put much more energy into growing the lateral canes. These are the ones that bear fruit.

Given the deer population, it is no surprise that they did the pruning for me! They ate the tips of the canes wherever they could reach. As a result, the plant is all lateral canes, and covered with unripe berries which have now started to change color.

(I later learned that this is an actual technique for better yield, from this youtube video… The more you know.)

Today I went out and added bird netting to the fortifications. Fingers crossed!

Ripening blackberries, equally enticing to humans and every other creature.