What is blooming at Glen Villa?

Last week I was wondering what I would find when I returned to Glen Villa, my garden in rural Quebec. Would the snowdrops be gone, the crocus out in full force? Would I even find a daffodil or two?

The quick answer is, no. Six weeks in warmer climes made me forget that this is only the end of March. And in Quebec, that means that spring has yet to arrive.

So what I found was a lake still mostly frozen, with a skim of water in some places on top of the ice.

 

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The ice is still a foot deep, maybe more, in the centre of the lake. It is thin and dangerous closer to shore.

 

I found far more snow than I wanted to see.

 

Snow lingers here in the shade of the house longer than in sunny spots. But even so, there is still too much of it.
Snow lingers here in the shade of the house longer than in sunny spots. But even so, there is still too much of it.

 

I found below freezing-temperatures at night and bright, sunny days. This means that the sap is running strong. In fact, to my surprise, we arrived home in the midst of maple syrup making season, not at the end.

 

With cold nights and warm days, the sap is running fast.
Cold nights and warm days mean the sap is running well.

 

Thankfully, a few snowdrops are blooming, helping me believe that spring really is just around the corner. And yesterday, when temperatures rose to the mid teens celsius (mid 60s fahrenheit), I even began to believe that summer would follow.

 

It's easy to see how snowdrops got their name.
It’s easy to see how snowdrops got their name.

 

On a sunny hillside, some snowdrops I planted two years ago made an appearance. I know I planted more than one or two, but they are growing near Tree Rings, and the ground there was disturbed when the sculpture was installed. Maybe next year more will re-appear. Or maybe I’ll add more, come fall.

 

A lonely snowdrop on the lawn.
The grass is snow-free around these two lonely snowdrops on the lawn near Tree Rings.

 

There is no sign yet of crocus, although with warm temperatures predicted to continue, there’s a good chance I’ll be seeing them soon. Daffodils are a long way away but the pussy willow in the fields is soft to the touch.

 

Pussy willow -- what child can resist it? Not this one!
Pussy willow — who can resist it?

 

As much as I enjoyed our weeks in South Carolina, it’s wonderful to be home again. I spent a long afternoon yesterday starting seeds in our small greenhouse.

 

Tomato plants are growing under the domes.
Tomato plants are growing under the domes.

 

It’s been a few years since I planted any perennials, but this year I ordered lots, knowing I’d need a truckload of plants for the gradual transformation of the Big Lawn into the Big Meadow.  I had forgotten how much work is involved in starting seeds — finding and cleaning the seed trays and pots, mixing the potting soil, filling the pots, watering and labelling.

 

Some of the perennials I started this week for the upper field and the transformation of the Big Lawn to a Big Meadow.
Some of the perennials I started this week for the upper field and the transformation of the Big Lawn to a Big Meadow.

 

I’ve been ‘naturalizing’ the Upper Field for a few years now, mowing it only once towards the end of summer. I’m happy with the plants that have self-seeded but to enrich the colour and plant diversity I’m adding perennials that ‘feel’ right in the setting, that I think will thrive.  If they do, I’ll have plants galore to provide more seeds — or to transplant onto the Big Lawn as it begins to change into an informal meadow with mown paths.

I chose seeds that are easy germinators. If they live up to their billing, I’ll have hours and hours of work a few months from now, pricking out seedlings and potting them up until they are big enough to plant out. The last time I did this, my parents were visiting me at Glen Villa.  Both have died in the years between, so I will think of them as I give these new plants a chance to grow.  The symbolism makes me feel good.

How is your garden growing? Do you start plants from seed? Any tricks you’d like to share?