Looking for spring during a break in the rain

Today we had torrential downpours alternating with periods of sunshine, and I took advantage of the latter to look for a few signs of spring. I needed confirmation that this is actually late March, not late November as the weather would have you believe. Spring is indeed all around us, even though most plants are at least two to three weeks behind schedule because of the unseasonably cool weather. Our daytime temperatures are as much as 15° below average!

According to the weather experts, we have at least two more storm fronts to look forward to before we get a more extended break from the rain. Yeah, I can’t contain my excitement.

But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the bits and pieces of sunshine that Mother Nature is sending our way, and I hope you will, too.

New leaves and flower buds forming on our Washington Navel orange
Black Lace elderberry leaving out (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’)
Black Lace elderberry leaving out (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’)
Blue Skies lilac getting ready to bloom
(Syringa vulgaris ‘Blue Skies’)
Blue Skies lilac getting ready to bloom
(Syringa vulgaris ‘Blue Skies’)
Crimson Queen Japanese maple leaving out
(Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’)
Variegated Jacob's ladder (Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’)
Dwarf greenstripe bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus) beginning to shoot
Rhubarb Victoria (Rheum x cultorum ‘Victoria’)
New leaf unfurling
Pea flower (Pisum sativum)


  1. You may complain about the rain, but just think what it's doing for everything (except for the succulents)!

    The Pleio. viridistriatus is so amazing when the leaves first emerge. So vibrant, so intense.

    Great photos!

  2. I forgot to add: it frustrates me that you can grow rhubarb. I can't seem to get it to grow for me -- it goes dormant in the heat of summer, then never comes back. I've tried twice now. Maybe I need to cover the plant after it goes dormant so it doesn't get too much water?

  3. Alan, I would never have considered rhubarb to be difficult but that's why I love hearing about other gardeners' experience.

    Ours gets watered all summer long. It does go into decline in July but it never goes completely dormant. And it comes back every year--well, it has so far. We have two plants, and they are each in a "half barrel"-type container (not an actual half barrel but a resin replica).

    Check out this site. It says:

    "Rhubarb plants will go dominate if they do not have moist soil. Be sure to water your rhubarb on a regular basis, but do not flood the soil or the plant will rot. During winter months, rhubarb is also susceptible to drying out. Remedy this problem by trimming back all growth after the first frost, and then cover the crown with a layer of straw or mulch. When spring arrives, uncover the crown and mix in the mulch in the surrounding soil."

    Maybe your rhubarb wasn't getting ENOUGH water?

  4. Great close-up photos. It's fun to see such varied growth rates in different parts of the US and know what I have to look forward to after another week or so of pretty cold weather here in MA. I have variegated Jacob's Ladder too - it's one of my favorites and it blooms forever - except mine is barely peeking out of the ground. anne

  5. What a weird shoot your dwarf bamboo has! I'm using to bamboo shooting without any real normal leaves unfurling. All the bamboo I have doesn't leaf out until the vertical stage is done, or nearly so. Does your p. viridistratus always leaf out big and early like that, or is that some weird result of our wet weather?

  6. Anne, I planted the variegated Jacob's ladder in the fall. I'm glad it's coming back and I can't wait for it to bloom. A friend of ours has one, and I love it!

    David, the P. viridistriatus shoot is actually very small--the bark chips are a good indicator of scale. It's leafing out as it's growing. I sheared the whole plant almost to the ground so many of the new shoots look like that. I don't expect any of the new culms to be taller than a foot.

  7. My viridistriatus does that too. That might just be how the smaller pleioblastus bamboos grow. My pleio. fortunei does the same thing.

    I guess I have to try rhubarb again.


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