The clocks have moved forward. Purdue did not reign champion in The Big Ten Conference, IU didn’t didn’t get invited to the dance and the NCAA Tournament is delivering woeful upsets. It’s Indiana and these are the signs that spring is around the corner. We grabbed our hand-carved walking sticks and dog, Betty, to walk the farm in search of spring. Here is what we found:
Flower bulbs – Showing off green vertical shoots. We have daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths, narcissus, and snow-drops. Bulbs spend the winter growing roots and storing carbohydrates obtained from nutrients in the soil. As the days get longer, the temperatures rise, and carbohydrates convert to sugar. This is the process that produces flowers from bulbs. Looking about, I am assured, the harbingers of Spring will soon carpet the woods in white.
Budded bushes – It is the witch hazel that brings the promise of spring. Witch hazel is a low-maintenance native plant and a pleasure to have in the landscape. Witch hazel offers a light fragrance, most commonly a yellow flower, and foliage that adds color to the fall season. Our witch hazel is budded out as are our lilac, peony, and viburnum.
Weeds! – You have to be careful when you see weeds in early spring. Sometimes those weeds are really flowers. Tickseed Coreopsis takes on the look of turf grass and oftentimes gets pulled out by anxious gardeners. Trying to get a head start on cleaning flower beds, I pulled out a whole bunch of Poppy at my son’s because I thought it was “a bunch of dandelion”. If you are not absolutely sure, wait.
Perennials – Hellebores are one of my reliable early spring perennials that are up and announcing spring.
Bugs – Which ones are waking up? Spiders are prevalent in the spring as are ants. Spiders like to get up and get out to look for ants when the temperatures begin to heat up. They want to come out of hiding to lay eggs and begin a new life cycle. Those aren’t giant mosquitoes! They are crane flies.
Sounds – Ours begin in the morning. Mourning doves are cooing. Numerous other birds are chirping and singing. I do not hold many bird languages familiar, but do recognize their Spring presence as they wake with the dawn. I’ll include the rushing of water from the river and the trickling from the creek, a clean and crisp sound. The evening owls let their presence be known. And the wind; holds a distinct sound in spring, without leaves to alter the sound, there is only wind to be heard. Our honey bees are buzzing being active looking for plants from which to take pollen and nectar. They are busy in the willow trees; about their business of making honey.
Blue eggs – I am looking for blue eggs in a baseball size nest made from dead grass, twigs, feathers, paper, moss, or roots. These nests are built by the female robin from the inside out and located snuggly on a safe tree branch. I have seen blue eggs nestled in white hair scavenged from my Great Pyrenees’ brushings. Other fine lining material might be dryer lint and the string from horse feed bags. I know spring is near when I find blue eggs in a nest.
We breathe in spring fragrances recognized in our brains, associated with memory. We smell spring rain, thawing soil, fragrances of the woodland flora, earthworms, and skunks. Male skunks are more frequently out and about looking for love and sometimes meet up with our dog patrolling her self-defined territory. Spring brings an abundance of smells to the senses but not all fragrances are welcomed.
I am going to say Spring is nearly here. Our farm is waking up and new beginnings are on the horizon.
Send us your questions and comments to the Shelby Purdue Extension Office – 317 392 6460 ext. 0 and https://extension.Purdue.edu/Shelby