First Blush of Spring


Last week my old friend Dan Millman asked me, “So, are you busy working in your garden?” Silence. Thinking, uh, not really. “Umm.” “Oh, winter?” Something like that.

These are not the fun times in the garden. They really are not. At best I’m using the blower to move leaves along and cutting back now decrepit stems of oregano I left long past their prime as the honeybees seemed to appreciate the last of the blossoms, and I wasn’t going to interfere in that. I might snatch at a naughty weed trying to make its way into my tierra, no thank you. But I’m not planting anything yet. And I rather thought there wasn’t much to see. Honestly? I’m largely just avoiding mud. Really.

But then I thought about it again. Only days later I took my camera out, intent on finding buds at very least, and have consequently opened up my vision way past what I anticipated. For this is what I found. Open your eyes.

Perhaps it really does take a gardener to be excited about the new growth spotted on the hydrangea. But it worked for me. I know what will follow. Gorgeous pompoms of white and pink and lavenders. Even the thought of it makes me smile.

California poppy

A bit surprised to see the California poppy so far along. It won’t be long before their orange splendor is lighting up the back garden. I’m inspired to put more seeds in the ground and expand their territory.

wild violet

Oh, I knew the violets were in full bloom. I’ve taken two tiny bouquets to beloved friend Conny, who loves them dearly. Every year they enter new areas of the garden and I don’t discourage them at all. The post I did on wild violets is one of the most visited on this blog. People love them, and usually have associations with their past. This must be true of Conny, as well, who is from Germany, as she starts exclaiming endearing things in German when I present her with her gift.

I bought the wild violets a present. Pink violets. A hybrid, no doubt. And they compliment the wild ones beautifully.

Soon it will be full out camellia season, and the first ones to blossom are out.

This is actually a Christmas camellia, but winter has been such an unpredictable force this year that this plant only recently began to blossom. I love it. I love the cheer it brings.

white camellias

I was surprised to see the white camellia had opened. I have to actually go on to my neighbor’s property to see the first ones that open, as they are on the fence line, rather hidden and respond, like most flowers, to the sun’s light and heat. I find them very elegant.

As I’m walking about poking here and there for the earliest signs of the changing of the season I’m finding myself thinking more and more about the projects in which we are engaged that can take literally years to come to full fruition. I think of how easily we might become discouraged in the face of the struggle, and might even be tempted to abandon our dream when had we cultivated the patience and fortitude and persistence, we might have had a very different outcome. What’s that quote that recycles on Twitter about “giving up just before the miracle”?


The crocuses are thoroughly here. Small and direct, announcing their place in the world.

my orphan rose

A few years ago I rescued a bunch of small withered roses on the cheap at a drug store which I promptly repotted in a dozen lively pots. Here’s one, full of new growth, probably because I did fertilize all the roses last weekend! It makes such a huge difference, doesn’t it? I have gotten enormous pleasure out of these dear roses that might easily have been recycled!

Now. What’s this, you say? This, dear ones, is a seventy year old rose. No, really. My neighbors decided to “simplify” a portion of their property and dug up about a dozen old roses that had been on their property before they bought it in the 50’s! I was flabbergasted and volunteered to take them on. (Wouldn’t you?) Worried about their vulnerability, I put them in a big tub of water until I could figure what to do. Did I mention winter was already upon us? I resorted to placing each in a big rubber pot and praying over them. And apparently it worked. They are tougher than I would ever have imagined. They are all sprouting new growth and I am very much looking forward to placing them in a more suitable permanent place in spring! Hallelujah!

Enjoy your own spring unfolding, dear readers! Let me know what’s happening where you live!

Love and seasonal blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Best news I had today was that Keplers Books in Menlo Park will be featuring Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in their gardening blast to their customers in March! Meanwhile, excerpts will be appearing in Ode Magazine in February, in The Edge in March and in Western North Carolina Woman in April.

I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to the fact I have been working very hard at expanding the numbers of bookstores carrying Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. A full list here. And if you have not yet seen the trailer

Lastly, gardening bloggers interested in the 2012 Gardening Bloggers Fling in Asheville, NC can find details here. An early draft of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy was written in Asheville. A visit there should include a trip to their excellent bookstore Malaprops (where, yes,you can find my book!).

16 Responses to “First Blush of Spring”

  1. Beautiful, mom! Those hopeful stirrings bursting forth bring smiles to me, as well. We’ve had some warm days arrive, and with it the plum and almond trees have begun to blossom, only to find themselves a bit confused by the return of cold days and even colder nights. Odd winter. But, I love that I’ve red camellias blooming.. Lucky me! 🙂

    Love you,

  2. Red camellias are a good start. Enjoy the unfolding! Love, Mom xoxo

  3. Beautiful blooms, but the buds on the quince are my favorite!
    And how marvelous to rescue an old rose!
    Have a great day!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  4. Hi, Lea, and welcome! Thank you for stopping by. Yes, that quince pic is speaking to me as well. So full of voluptuous promise and beauty! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Snow crocus since Jan. 27th, earliest ever & first time before the snowdrops which are now in the 100’s. Small bulb iris should be next, need to go check when we go out today. Also need to wade through the mud into the back garden to see what’s happening back there. Very strange winter for central Ohio, none of the snows have been deep enough or lasted long enough to require shoveling. However, we still have months of winter possible here so I’m not thinking we sailed through yet. Hugs from Ohio, Julie.

  6. Hi, Julie! Someone in NC was just talking about a mild winter, and bam, they got snow. Don’t know if it lasted. But, yes, seems milder this year back there as well. Glad you’re enjoying a bit of early spring! Stay warm! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Looking forward to the 5th annual Garden Bloggers Fling, and one day I hope to meet you at one of these events, Kathryn. I shall certainly look for your book at Malaprop’s if I get over there. Could I possibly have seen your book at Ravenna Gardens in Seattle at last summer’s Fling? Seems I saw it somewhere not long ago…

  8. Hi, Pam! Yes, I do hope one day! Hope you have time to get to Malaprop’s. It’s such a happy place! Complete listing of where my book is available here: Thanks! Kathryn xox

  9. You are a bit of ahead of the Utah crowd, and it was a delight to wander through your garden and see all that green! The branches and beginning to swell here and the grass is responding ever so slightly. Hopefully we will be catching up to you fast! And way to save those 70 year old roses! You will have to do posts on their progress throughout the year!

  10. Hi, Red Clover, You are right! We are a bit ahead of the Utah crowd, I’m sure. 😉 But we will all get our spring! Yay! Enjoy yours! And thanks for the nod on the roses! I like your idea! Kathryn xoxo

  11. dear kathryn, you make me look like such a terrible gardener and i hate to admit i don’t even want to look at my 8-10 hydrangeas i haven’t touched since last summer…dreadful mess i have on my hands and that’s just the hydrangeas. your roses are very sweet and those wild violets…they would expire up here but when we lived closer to the coast, they bloomed and almost took over a huge expanse of lawn…they are so sweet. i adore them. i wish i could get them to take here. we are almost in the 80’s today tho…and it’s what? feb something…? weird weather…i want some heavy rain storms and where’s my wind????

    🙂 kathryn, i have a new blog and am leaving blogger. the link is up above or: i hope you can come by and see tho i am just beginning to figure it all out over there at typepad…hoping it is worth the money!

  12. Oh, the joys of spring, dear Kathryn, so beautiful as you always do with each post. We are way behind but spring is in my heart.

  13. Good morning, dear Joey! Spring is ALWAYS in your heart, Joey. Always.
    And I was shocked yesterday to realize how much further spring has sprung around here in a single week! Twelve times as many crocuses in three colors. Camellias are already falling to the ground! Stunning movement with just a little coaxing from the sun. Enjoy your unfolding! Hugs! Kathryn xoxo

  14. Hi Kathryn, Always am inspired by your communications. Here in upstate NY today winter has returned. It has been very unseasonable.. unusually warm, but 18 degrees this am with snow covering all…very pretty in the sun but not helpful for the maple sap run. We are tapped and waiting. We do it in a small way..200or so taps and boil down on a wood fire in the sap house. Spring here is usually raw and damp. Sap runs need freezing nights and 40 degree days. I have often said making syrup is the only reason to be out. In the process I see those early signs of the glory to come overlooked by most.

    God bless, Alice

  15. Hi, Linda! Thank you for the link to your new site. I’ve adjusted my blogroll accordingly! Violets, btw, flourish in inland Mendocino Co., so I’m thinking there must be a good place for them in inner Sonoma! Do you need some?? Kathryn xoxo

  16. Good morning, Alice. I love that you shared your syrup process! Fascinating! I wish I could come document (and learn!). Thank you! Kathryn xoxo

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