Here we are then, weeks away from the official first day of spring, and already I notice the winter air has fundamentally changed its character – from the bitter, harsh air of early winter with all its heavy snowfalls, to the cold, humid air of late winter with just a breath of the possibility of spring rejuvenation in it. Temperatures have risen ever so slightly too, with today’s brushing past 10 C. (50 F). Just. And not that it will last of course, in this highly variable season, but one takes what one gets.
Are you longing for spring? Yeah, me too. It will not be long now, and we will be strolling trough fields of daffodils under a purple haze of Oklahoma redbuds, not just in our fevered imaginations, but in glorious reality.
Walking around town this weekend with the companionship of an old friend of a dog, I notice a few cheering sights. Winter jasmine is blooming brightly along near Main Street and several homes lucky enough to have snowdrops (or gardeners hard-working enough to have planted them, as I in my laziness did not, once again this year) are enjoying this first bloomer in our town, often in very large, naturalized patches from which you may deduce that they have been there for a very long time indeed.
In our own garden, spring has sort of arrived (not really) as it always does with the hyacinths, of which we have one small pink flower blooming with precisely just three tiny pink bugles. So, it is a rather modest beginning of all the promised glories to come, and even then you have to get right down on your knees by the ivy near the stone walk around the garage to appreciate their beauty and get a tiny whiff of the hyacinth perfume.
Further along on my walk today, I noticed one otherwise rather nondescript home with half a dozen large bunches of primroses growing in the front yard, their bold colors making them look almost fake in their cheerfulness. One does not see these grown very much in this country, though they are such a staple of English gardens and indeed of the English countryside, and you may wonder why not.
Perhaps they are too common and unpretentious, too easy and simple, to attract serious attention from gardeners here. We have a national mania for pansies, it would seem, which is rather harmless as national manias go, but the primrose is far superior to the pansy, in my opinion. Perhaps their bright chromatic colors are thought unsophisticated, with serious gardeners always preferring the more subtle, blending properties of pastels. On the whole I think this a color prejudice and a very unfair one.
I think the acid yellow of forsythias, for example, to be rather unattractive as an abstraction, and yet as a splash of bright paint on the dull canvas of early spring it is thrilling, and who does not rejoice to see it? Some of the colors of azaleas are loud to the point of bizarreness, and yet who would complain about having these colors to light up the woodland shade (except for yellow and orange)? Only think of daffodils and tulips in their bold primary colors and how delightful they are, and you soon see how unreasonable it is to think chromatic primroses common and pastel pansies always better.
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