Winter Waiting

(Here’s your friendly reminder to sign up for my now-quarterly newsletter. The first issue for the year goes out next week and will help you get garden-ready for spring. For some reason the subscribe info is not showing up on mobile, so until I figure that out you’ll have to do it from a laptop or desktop.)

My two year old loves holidays of any kind, so I’ve been telling her about groundhog’s day. It must have stuck because yesterday on our walk she started talking about “in the springtime the groundhog will come out of the ground and look around!” Well, today is the day, and I guess the groundhog didn’t see his shadow. So I guess it’s six more weeks until spring? Regardless, here in my zone 5b garden we are still under a “thick blanket of snow”, just like the city of Geopolis (we’ve also been reading Katy and the Big Snow a lot at our house lately, in case you’re wondering). But just because we’re still under snow – with more in the forecast – it doesn’t mean that plants aren’t growing and getting ready for spring.

bur buttercup rosette

Here it is! The first little bur buttercup of the season.

In fact, just yesterday on our walk around the neighborhood – which we’ve been doing a lot on the nice sunny days we’ve had lately – I noticed the first signs of spring: bur buttercup rosettes and winter annual grasses poking through where the snow is melting. I know, I know, they’re weeds; but hey, weeds are plants too!

Some more weeds getting a head start on the season, growing under the snow near our front sidewalk.

And the weeds aren’t the only ones growing underneath the snow; if you planted any spring bulbs (or corms) last fall, they’re starting to grow too, getting ready to pop out as soon as the snow melts. I didn’t plant any outside, but I’ll be bringing my bulbs up from downstairs in the next week or two to have some blooming in my kitchen. It’s never too early to plan for next spring, though, so take a walk around your yard and take note of where the snow melts first so you can plant bulbs there this fall and enjoy the blooms next spring. While you’re out in the yard, clip off a couple forsythia branches (you’ll want to save the real pruning for after it has bloomed) and bring them in. Put them in a vase of water and pretty soon you’ll have bright cheery yellow blooms in your kitchen a few weeks before you’ll have them outside.

This area on the south side of our house melts off first. A bonus is that I can see the bare ground from my kitchen table, which means I would be able to see any spring-flowering bulbs there too. I’m thinking I’ll plant some crocus, snow drops, and daffodils there this fall.

Where I live it’s still a little early to be pruning your fruit trees, but if you really must get out and do it, you’re apple and pear trees should probably be ok. Just hold off a little longer on your stone fruits (peach, apricot, cherry, plum).

What I’m saying is, there may still be snow on the ground, and it may keep snowing for the next month, but spring is coming. So get out there and enjoy all of it – from those first bur buttercup leaves, to when the snow finally melts and those flowers start blooming.


Is it looking like spring in your neighborhood? Or are you still in the depths of winter?


  1. Ooo, I didn’t know that about forsythia! We have scads of it in the yard, so I might just have to be trying that 🙂

    • I’ve never actually done it myself, but I have seen it done before! I’m hoping that by next year my little forsythia will be big enough that I’ll be able to do it; as for now, it needs all of the branches it has.

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