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Floral Notes: Do you believe?

Community Columnist

The bluebird we photographed less than three weeks ago in South Carolina is now singing at the top of my pine tree. Bulbs of all kinds and colors are carpeting the ground and my star magnolia is about to pop its bright white blossoms.

Is spring (or is it summer) really here?

Many of us flee the March mudness and lingering cold, as I did first to the south and then to Rhode Island, where it was cooler than expected. Driving home on March 19, the dashboard thermometer climbed into unbelievable 80 degree temperatures.

I’m writing this at 8 a.m. on my porch, listening to birdsong and enjoying the breeze. It may be fleeting, but let’s savor any nice weather.

All the gardeners reading will have noticed the new weather map that was in the Republican a few weeks ago. According to the map, we in zip code 13035 are now not the former Zone 4, but 5b.

That’s warmer, and the village may be so, but it’s not true if your house is on a higher elevation, like ours. We have to wait an extra week for spring and have frosts later, too.

There are signs of change though.

I witnessed the amazing bloom on mop head hydrangeas last summer, blue or pink. I thought it was because of measures taken the previous year, but everyone had the same good fortune. The flowers of that type of hydrangea are formed on the twigs that grew last summer, so our frosts of spring, if there was snow cover, or just winter’s chill can result in lots of leaves, but no flowers. My inspection of the twigs as the mulch of pine needles was removed yesterday showed green buds beginning to emerge.

Don’t cut anything unless it is obviously dead until May, and hope we don’t go below freezing again.

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