Through Rain, Sleet and Snow


This is a “weather- kind- of -winter” to remember. Throughout the nation, we have all experienced extreme rainfalls resulting in floods, as well as record low temperatures and heavy wet snow accumulations. It would be my guess to say we are all eager for springtime.

If we are truly observant, we might capture a bit of those harbingers of spring within sight despite the torrents of rain and snow. For example, this past week seen flitting among the blue jays, chickadees and gold finches was a robin. Its burnt orange breast stood out against the white landscape of snow here at the ranch in Lassen. Surely a sign that spring is forthcoming.

There was more than the sight of a robin that made me yearned for warm sunny days and pastel colored bulbs popping up from a long winter’s nap. As the snow melted I noted a hint of purple and lavender emerging through the frozen ground. Low and behold, there were pansies in flower! The disparaging term for this flower always referenced it to weak, and wimpy. Yet despite the zero degree temperatures and two months of heavy snowfall, there before me appeared beautiful flowers – anything but weak or wimpy!

Cheerful color does not need to grow wild or lay in wait for a thaw. My daughter sent an email the other day from Sonoma County stating a trip to the local nursery brought about the joyful spot of red and yellow ranunculus at her sliding glass door. It is amazing how a hint of color can lift the spirits on a deary day! Just be aware that the planting zone corresponds to the spot of color you are adding to the garden.

Admittedly, it isn’t always about color or birds that indicate spring is near. As I inspected for winter damage on some of my fruit trees, I had to smile as the little peach tree sported fuzzy swelling buds . It was as if they begged for just a bit more warmth to expose their beautiful pink blossoms and a promise of sweet juicy fruit to come.

Yes, the promise of spring is near. As the weather clears, take a walk around the garden. Take note of what you see. Are there low spots collecting water? If so, how can you add a bit of early spring to that area? Determine how to grade or divert the water where it will be welcome. Perhaps create a rain garden to slow the excess water down, spread it out and let it sink in. Could you plant shades of purple Iris versicolor intermixed with pink blooming Asclepias incarnata and understory of white Iberis sempervierns? These are just a very few plants that can sustain short periods standing water found in rain gardens. Or are there open areas to plant drifts of spring bulbs for an early splash of color? Winter does not need to equate to the doldrums!

March is now upon us. Will it come in like a lion or lamb? Take heart, spring is on its tail.

Have a great weekend.

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