February must be the most confused of the northern months. It is made up of gloom, rains, flurries of snow, bursts of joyous sunshine, unexpected hailstorms, frosts and thaws, and wind like witches in the trees. Who can love a February?
A week ago I was cheering the emergence of bulbs in the garden beds. Narcissus buds are swelling.
The small irises are in full explosion. The splash of blue so surprised me one morning when I came up the path I felt my intake of breath before I could even recognize them as iris.
Under the fir trees, violets nod already.
and the Hellebore is a practically indecent display on the winter-bare slope.
Could I be blamed for rushing out between rain showers to plant primroses? To pull weeds? To dig holes in the damp earth and breathe deeply the hint of spring? The garden is waking! There is work to be done! Pull on the gloves and boots and get yourself out there!
Ah. Traitor. Never trust February.
This week we are promised temperatures in the low Fahrenheit 20′s again. December temperatures.
What is a garden to do?
For the most part, these early greeters are pretty hardy, and I expect they will be fine. We think of them as harbingers of spring for just this reason. They show up early and scoff at lingering winter. But there are a few of them I will worry about. These, for instance,
are my very special “Irene Copeland” daffodils which, in their bloom, look like this:
and which are planted in pots, not in the protective garden ground. I believe the Irenes would be up to the challenge, but I would hate to lose them. So I gathered up all my bulb pots today and they are now huddled against the garden wall where they may find some protection from the coming cold. For nighttime, I’ll cover them with a plastic sheet.
Sleeping beneath a plastic sheet does not appeal to me, but if I were a daffodil I think I’d have a lesser standard of comfort. On the other hand, as I look on them now, they do remind me of prisoners lined up against a wall…