Spring Comes to Newark
This winter may have been mild, but the arrival today of spring — there's no capital-S on "spring", by the way — was still welcome.
In my yard, the annual bloom of spring-flowering bulbs is well underway. It starts with crocuses, daffodils, narcissuses (largely-white daffodils), and hyacinths.
I have expected the daffodils to spread, thru division of the bulbs, but they seem not to be doing so. Oddly, one tulip has popped up where I planted none, in an area of soil between the slate sidewalk and the retaining wall up to my front yard. My house is on a slope, with the rear of my back yard perhaps 15 feet higher than the sidewalk out front.
A number of other flowering plants have also spread, perhaps by seeds dropped in poop from the birds that ate at the birdfeeder in my front yard in recent years. These leaves look like crocus leaves, but actually give rise, as I remember, to little white, star-shaped flowers long after the crocuses, which are more like pitcher-shaped, have stopped blooming.
I think some tulips have extended farther to the right of, and higher on my sloping front yard, than the trench I initially dug to plant over 100 bulbs that my friend Jerry had rescued from trash put out by a rich church in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. That church had been pulling up each year's bulbs to plant new ones each fall, but discontinued that practice the year after Jerry turned bulbs over to me, which I think was the first year I arrived in Newark, 2000.
Not all of my second-hand bulbs survived, I suppose, but there's still a wonderful display of tulips and some paperwhites from that same gift every spring, usually in April. The tulip leaves start up a few weeks before the flowers appear. The daffodil and hyacinth blooms fade before the tulip blooms appear.
The daffodils and hyacinths may be early this year, thanks to our fourth-warmest winter ever (doesn't "global warming" argue for each year's winter being warmer than any prior winter?). Plants seem to have temperature sensors, or triggers. Sensor seems almost to imply intelligence in a plant. I checked my fotos from last year, which show them to have reached their height of bloom around April 7th. The tulips were at their height by April 28th. (I must check whether the Cherry Blossom Festival has been scheduled for earlier than usual this year. By the time the festival weekend arrived last year, many of the blooms had already died and dropped off the trees because of unexpectedly warm weather the two or three weeks before. This year, the organizers have had plenty of advance warning as to the likelihood of earlier blooming, and dropoff.)
To know for sure how different years' weather affects spring-flowering bulbs, I guess I would have to take pix of the same areas of my yard on the same dates, but I haven't done that. I could set up an alarm on AOL Calendar to remind me. I just checked, and I can set a reminder at least as far in advance as April 2014.
The crocuses seem more variable than the other bulbs. Sometimes they come up literally thru the snow, in late February or early March. This year I couldn't see some of them because spreading English ivy had covered them up. English ivy is considered "invasive", even a plant "pest". I want to move some of it from where I don't want it, instead to where I do want it, to cover the bulk of my sideyard, which is mostly in shade, so not much else will grow there. I have English ivy climbing up some of my trees, which provides cheerful greenery thru the gray days of too much of a Newark winter.
When I trimmed the ivy back, some of the blooms had already died, and the base of the leaves was pale from insufficient lite.
In searching on Google for a report I had heard on TV recently, that spring is more people's favorite season than any other, I found an anonymous blogpost from Macoupin County, Illinois (northeast of St. Louis, MO) which said:
I firmly believe people who leave their outdoor Christmas decorations up do us no favors by prolonging winter’s hold on the calendar. Twinkle lights simply cannot compete with a bright spring day, trust me. I look resentfully upon plastic Santas who linger in the yard too long. Give Santa a break and drag him back into the garage where he belongs, please. I’ll look forward to seeing him again in a few months, after I’ve become fed up with the stifling heat and humidity of summer.I brought in my large plastic snowman and penguin several days ago, well before the end of winter, for which a snowman and penguin are appropriate. They aren't really Christmas decorations as such, but they became plainly inappropriate when all risk of snow had passed.
That blogger had apparently left that area but returned. I lived in Manhattan for 35 years, but returned the short distance to North Jersey almost 12 years ago. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have any spring flowers to show here. Indeed, there would be no "Newark USA" fotoblog.
I couldn't find the TV news poll about Americans' favorite season. Both Google and Bing confused "season", the astronomical quarter of the year, with television "season", so I got primarily results for things like Jersey Shore and Dancing with the Stars. I find it increasingly hard to find anything I want nowadays thru search engines.
In any case, as I remember the survey, spring was the favorite season for the largest number of Americans, which surprised me. Mine has always been summer, from the time we got out of school for a couple of months, thru today, despite summer's oppressive, steamy reputation (note the seasonally popular songs "Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole and "(Hot Town) Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful.
As so commonly happens nowadays, the poll results appeared on screen too briefly to be read fully before they were yanked. There's something wrong with the people who do television graffics nowadays. They seem to have no idea that graffics that can be read quickly and easily on a computer monitor two feet away don't work on a TV set across the room. And they plainly don't read the text aloud, at a moderate rate of speed, to determine how long a graffic needs to stay onscreen.
I went out this afternoon to check the tulips. Most of the tulips and other bulbs had poked their leaves up against all resistance, sometimes skewering oak leaves in the way.
But I had buried some too deep under masses of fallen leaves last autumn, and had to clear away two wheelbarrowfuls of dead leaves to uncover a bunch of tulips that had not been able to poke thru the matted mass. I am gradually enriching the soil in my yards with each autumn's leaves, and composting goes on not just in compost heaps as such but also in the layer of leaves and twigs I have spread widely across the side and back yards. But too thick a layer of leaves can keep plants from reaching the lite, come spring. Unfortunately, in removing excess dead leaves, I broke off some of the pale, gangly leaf stalks of buried tulips. I hope enuf leaves are left to keep the bulbs going thru this season and into next year.
I'll be more careful about how many leaves I pile on this coming autumn, and check for buried tulip leaves next spring. I've already set a reminder in AOL Calendar for March 15, 2013. And then I'll set a reminder for 2014.
I scattered some bulbs in other parts of the yard too, when I saw a suggestion to place them at the base of trees. They aren't doing as well there, because of more shade, tho they do well enuf, given that the trees don't have leaves during the time the bulbs' leaves are drawing energy from the sun to produce flowers.
I don't know what this little blue flower is. It sort of looks like a wild hyacinth. It was blooming each year perilously close to where I turned my car around to get down my driveway, so last year I moved the two little plants close to a massive oak, several feet from the driveway, and they're doing better there. I think I also put some dead leaves under them to serve as fertilizer. (I was zoomed in too close when I took this picture, because the ambient lite kept me from seeing the camera monitor clearly. When in doubt, zoom out with the camera, and in with the graffics program later.)
This next foto shows a regular hyacinth, by contrast. The leaves and individual blossoms are similar but the flower spike is far more lush.
The sequence of perennial-flower displays in my yard runs something like this: March, crocuses, daffodils, narcissuses, hyacinths; April, tulips, paperwhites, azaleas, and mini-roses; May, rhododendrons, lilies, and masses of purple wisteria; June, phlox, tickseed, and hostas; July, rose of sharon, phlox; August-October, phlox, rose of sharon, some chrysanthemums; November-December, one late chrysanthemum. As you can see, the phlox and rose of sharon persist in flowering for months, and there is almost always something blooming in my yards the entire spring-summer-fall growing season. What a great change from apartment life in Manhattan!