Mary Howitt wrote a poem about the coming of spring. The first stanza says,
I am coming little maiden,
With pleasant sunshine laden,
With the honey for the bee,
With the blossoms for the tree,
With the flower and the leaf -
Till I come, the time is brief.
In Preparation For Spring
Gardeners certainly hope the time until spring comes will be brief. However, now before the sap rises we can get out into our gardens and attack overgrown evergreen shrubs that need to be cut back.
It is the right time, just before they break dormancy, to cut down the thick branches so the shrub is smaller. We also should be looking for signs that the little early bulbs are about their business, as we long for the yellow of the winter aconites, the white snowdrops and the pale lilac of the early crocuses.
If we get a mild day and the ground isn’t too muddy, we can also tidy the flower beds, cutting down what remains of last year’s perennials.
This too, is the time to cut some boughs of the pussy willow if we are lucky enough to have some growing in our garden, and to check our Lenten roses to see if they are yet in bud.
If you have Japonica or Forsythia bushes, cut some branches to force into bloom. Hammer the ends of the woody stems so they will take up water more easily when they are placed in vase. Then stand back and wait to see if those bare sticks will be tricked into thinking spring has come early, at least at your house.