Each March, Smith College’s bulb show brings a welcome glimpse of spring. Color dazzles the eyes and sweet scents remind you that warm days filled with flowers will come again.
March weather is capricious, and the weekend after the bulb show snow fell for 24 hours. We awoke to a beautiful morning, and went out early on our cross-country skis, before the warm sunny day claimed the last (perhaps) vestiges of winter. By nightfall most of the snow was gone and mud season had begun.
In the thaw our own early bulbs appeared. Under matted leaves we found crocuses—purple and yellow spots of color in the dull ground. The leaves, which offer a layer of protection to the garden all winter long, now impede the growth of plants awakening from their winter hibernation.
With chickens overseeing my progress, I raked carefully around the already flowering bulbs and uncovered shoots of daffodils, hyacinth, and even the bearded lilies and peonies. Exciting as this is, it heralds the start of Outdoor Work. With the snow now off the garden beds, we need to address the soil, amending it as we can (and lamenting we didn’t do this last fall). We’ve more raking to do, pruning, and cutting back overgrown areas, tempering—just slightly—our enthusiasm for the signs of spring.