Do not under any circumstances miss this part.  The emerging.  Those of us who live in climates where the seasons change-that period of transition can be as brief as it is astonishingly beautiful.  The weather during this time period can be unsettled, even violent.  Plants dormant during our long winter sprout-given the spring.  They emerge; they break ground.  Breaking ground-the phrase suggests a new beginning, a new project.   Vernissage-the French word for opening.  My season is opening. The winter season is fading-spring is emerging. Some change is slow-some change is quick and startling.

 Plants unerringly know when spring is due.  Dormant buds swell, and show green.  My Thelypteris decursive pinnata-my Japanese beech ferns-I see them today.  Yesterday nothing.  Today-a lot of substantial somethings. The hellebore flower stems raise their heads. and grow towards the light.  The tulips out of the ground-2 to 3 weeks until they bloom.  My daffodils moved from short green buds to tall stalks with flowers in just 2 days. 

Pay attention now.  The emerging phase is so short, you may need to cancel plans and stay home, and watch. The boston ivy on my walls show signs of life.  Why these shoots are a brilliant red-I do not know. But I do know that this part of the life cycle of Boston ivy is of great interest to me.    

The earliest of magnolias-I have one unknown variety in bloom right now.  I inherited this tree.  It has quadrupled in size, the past 15 years.  I do not know its name-I only know it is the first plant to make a substantial move in my garden, in spring.  These flowers-a good three weeks later than usual.  This makes the emerging phase all the more precious. High winds and rain will make this blooming moment a short one. 

Time in a garden is never made up.  A very late to come spring means a very short spring.  Pay attention-watch like a hawk.  This spring will surely be very short.  Don’t miss it.  The miracle that is nature-I could write about it all day long for many days.  My writing would matter next to nothing-compared to the experience of spring.  My European ginger emerged and got leafy in the blink of an eye.  This green could not be more welcome. 

My advice?  Experience your spring. Get down on the ground, and look at what is emerging.  This sky blue grape hyacinth-like nothing else I have in my garden.  Clean up.  Walk your garden, once the winter has drained away.  Assess.  Plan.  Most of all-enjoy.  Look to the sky-most trees bloom. Don’t miss the blooming of the shade trees. 

Species tulips have none of the height of hybrid tulips.  But they do have this going for them.  They are early, and quite persistent.  By this I mean, really perennial.  This species tulip, Oratorio, has remarkable foliage.  An upper green leaf stained purple.  Aubergine and green veination-spectacular.     

No one admires box elders-they are junk trees. No gardener plants them.  I do however admire them though, for their willingness to colonize very difficult urban sites. They have no problem living in a precipitous crack in a sidewalk.  The will to live-I admire this.  And their spring blooming is an extraordinary affair.  Not at all ordinary, or noxious.         

This box of lettuce emerging-delicious to my eye. Spring to my mind-so loaded with possibility.  My advice?  Should you be a gardener, expand your horizons.  Become a naturalist.  Observe at ground level.  Look up.  See the shade trees blooming.  Observe, all around.   Any experience of nature will make you a better gardener-I promise.


  1. So sweet of you to give an enthusiastic shout out to the lowly box elder…you hit the nail right on the head: that crazy, threaded pom-pom looks to me like the outrageous pasmenterie fobs you see only in France. And, even though I must bid these trees adieu soon, it is a moment I look forward to every year. For me, today was not only a day of emergences but that first day of a true greener than green….a day to which I always look especially forward. Its like landing in Ireland for the first time…once every year. It inspired me to cut a radical and deep verge.

  2. Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ perhaps?

  3. janet aronoff says

    Yes,emerging.I particularly pay attention to the emerging leafs on the shade trees.First,the small emerging branches are like a pervasive almost translucent black lace and now I begin to see a tad less translucent green lace soon to unravel into small and then bigger leaves.Spring, just arriving, never fails to thrill and to reaffirm the enormity and the beauty of the life cycle of nature.

  4. Deborah you speak as a true gardener; not wanting to miss a moment of the emerging life that happens in the blink of an eye. I’m with you there on the ground, searching out what’s next. But I don’t think this can be taught; either you adore this time or you just don’t notice. Such a shame for those who don’t notice and don’t care. And yes, my vote is for Royal Star too – esp. since I’m most familiar with that one and M. soulangiana, both of which are the two most planted here in zone 4-5.

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