Winter seems to last forever, especially with the promise of spring plants right around the corner. Here are 6 signs that spring is here, or awfully close!
At the start of winter, the first snow is magical and exciting, but by the fifth or sixth time around, it tends to lose its magic. By February, we are all absolutely done with the cold weather. It doesn’t help our winter woes when early signs of spring start to pop up.
1. Bulbs Bloom
The first thing many people think of when they here the word spring is flowering bulbs. The classic tulips, daffodils, and crocus paint a colorful picture of warmer springs days in our minds. Usually, the first bulb to pop up is Galanthus nivalis commonly called snowdrop. Even in the Midwest, these guys can pop up as early as February. They often emerge for the first time through a layer of snow, thus their name: snowdrop. If flowers blooming through the snow doesn’t make you nostalgic for spring, I don’t know what will!2. Trees Bud
Another subtler sign of plant life is that the trees begin to bud and flower. Some of the first trees to bud are silver maples and red maples. The flowers of the silver maple actually open up in mid-March followed closely by flowers from the red maples. Since these flowers are small and subtle, it can be hard to see them, but if you have spring allergies, they will alert you of this sign of spring.
Unfortunately, with opening tree buds comes airborne pollen. Since trees rely heavily on wind pollination to fertilize their flowers, trees have to produce a lot of pollen to increase the probability of pollen finding its way to suitable flowers. This results in a less favorable sign of spring: allergies. Airborne tree pollen is a huge contributor to springtime allergies along with mold. I have already noticed that my eyes have steadily grown itchier and itchier since February. If you experience spring time allergies, there are precautions you can take to limit your exposure to allergens. For example, keeping your windows closed or limiting your time outside when it’s especially windy. Personally, I find the itchy eyes a small price to pay for the long-awaited fresh air and sunshine of spring.
4. Monarch Butterflies
On a happier note, spring welcomes the return of monarch butterflies from their winter migration to Mexico. If you like to see Monarchs hanging out in your yard, there are several things you can plant to support these beautiful pollinators. We have all heard the uproar about planting common milkweed, since this is the main source of food for monarch caterpillars. Along with the common milkweed, don’t forget to plant nectar sources for the adult Monarchs as well! Monarch butterflies favor the following plants among many more:
5. Birds Chirping
We aren’t the only ones excited for spring. The birds also share our enthusiasm and celebrate its arrival with songs. Peaceful melodies of robins, sparrows, and wrens fill the air in springtime. There are ways you can keep the songbirds in your yard happy and singing all spring and summer. Planting plants that provide habitat and food for birds is a good start. Below are 5 great plants that help attract birds to your yard by providing them with a food source. Trees like the crabapple and dogwood tree also provide shelter and a place to build nests.
- Malus sargentii 'Tina' (Sargent Crabapple)
- Baptisia Decadence® 'Dark Chocolate' (False Indigo)
- Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda Dogwood)
- Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' (Purple Coneflower)
- Myrica pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry)
If you want to keep the birds in your yard happy, you might also want to considering adding a source of water. This doesn’t have to be a big fancy bird bath. In my yard, we have a simple metal dish that we keep filled with water for the birds. As long as they are apple to perch on it to drink, they are content. It is also a good idea to supplement the plants in your yard with a bird feeder so they have food source even when the plants do not provide one.
6. The Smell of Fresh Cut Grass
This is a sure sign that spring is here. If the smell of fresh cut grass is floating through the air, you can be sure that spring is here to stay. Not only has the grass awaken from its winter slumber, but people are eager to use any excuse they can get to spend a few moments outside, even if that means mowing the lawn.
These are all signs that spring is here or coming very soon. Winter is a time to recharge and dream of spring. When it finally shows up, make sure you take the time to enjoy all the wonderful things that spring brings.
“6 Signs That Spring Has Sprung.” LiveScience, Purch, 18 Mar. 2011, www.livescience.com/30250-spring-signs-earth-seasons.html.
“Galanthus nivalis.” Missouri Botanical Garden, www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=k300.
“Monarch Butterfly Flower.” Wikepedia, 4 Jan. 2006, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monarch_Butterfly_Flower.jpg.
Old Farmer's Almanac. “5 Signs of Spring: Birds, Peepers, and Tree Buds.” Old Farmer's Almanac, Yankee Publishing Inc, www.almanac.com/news/almanac/musings/5-signs-spring-birds-peepers-and-tree-buds#.
Powell, Hugh. “The Best Trees, Vines, and Shrubs to Plant for Birds: a Starter List.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 11 Aug. 2015, www.allaboutbirds.org/the-best-plants-and-trees-to-plant-for-birds-a-starter-list/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5NPjBRDDARIsAM9X1GIwzyrkFxNCMf789-1UWU9TJAhkZjqmymkqSgIEvfH4GA0pBxaxhxwaAiVREALw_wcB.
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“Signs of Spring 3: Tree Buds and Other Emergences.” Sites at Penn State, 2 Mar. 2017, sites.psu.edu/ecologistsnotebook/2017/03/02/signs-of-spring-3-tree-buds-and-other-emergences/.
Suszynski, Marie. “The Most Common Spring Allergies.” Everyday Health, Ziff Davis, LLC, 15 Apr. 2013, www.everydayhealth.com/hs/allergy/most-common-spring-allergies/.