Finally, the snow is melting and the ground that has been hidden for so many months is beginning to re-appear. Today temperatures rose to 15C or so, a big change from what we’ve been experiencing. And the sky was bright and beautifully blue.
Despite this, not much is happening yet to the tree I’m ‘following’ this year, a linden or basswood, or (to give the tree its proper name) my Tilia americana.
On a warm day I can fool myself into thinking I see buds forming. And maybe I do. Spring doesn’t linger in Quebec. Some years, the season jumps from winter to summer in so short a time that a sleepy-eyeed city dweller misses spring altogether.
Today I was able to walk across the big lawn without slogging through piles of melting snow. As you can see in the photo below, the snow has almost disappeared, lurking now only in shady spots. The lawn is nowhere near green; instead it is a soggy mess. With the earth still frozen, the melt-off has nowhere to go, creating perfect conditions for mud and water that pools on the surface.
Underneath the tree a wire mesh cover is protecting the muscari bulbs planted last fall against marauding squirrels. It’s pinned into the ground at the edges and held in place with strips of wood.
I first planted bulbs under the tree some eight or nine years ago. My idea was to have a circle of blue that matched the shadow line of the tree, a bit like a blue bruise on the ground to mark the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The first year I planted scilla, but for some reason the following year I changed my mind and planted muscari, or grape hyacinth, instead.
I added muscari annually for three more years. After dividing the space into quadrants, I planted one quadrant each fall, leaving a path between the sections to allow easy access to the bench that circles the tree.
That was a mistake — leaving a space lessened the impact. Last fall I decided to complete the circle by filling in the empty bits. I also added more bulbs to the quadrant already planted since the muscari has not multiplied as quickly as I thought it would. I’ll do the same this fall and the next two years as well. That means a lot more bulbs and a lot more hours, but I think the end result will be worth it.
The linden tree has a naturally rounded profile but careful pruning over the years has enhanced that shape. Shortening heavier branches lightens the load and helps prevent the tree from splitting any more than it has already. The stubby branch ends are not attractive but since they almost disappear as soon as the tree leafs out, the trade-off is worth it.
The linden tree is not the star of the spring season in Quebec. That honour goes, without question, to the sugar maple. Yesterday we held a sugaring-off, the celebration that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
I’ll be writing about that celebration a little later this week, and about how we make maple syrup. I hope you’ll return for a virtual taste of the best syrup in the world!
ThankYou, Spring Is here for me now,Im so glad I came home to UK, But I Do miss The Wildlife And Spae there was for Beautiful Trees in Saskatchewan, I had Mountain Ash And The Waxwings Would Get Drunk On the ripe Berries,Made a real Mess on my Driveway, But I Was Love the Hummingbirds too,,I have Maple Here Im Not Appreciate now As they are past there Best And drop Millions of Seeds!, ThankYou for your photos, It’s Night here and I’ll read it tomorrow,
Ruth, it sounds like you’ve moved around a fair bit — and found something good in every place you’ve lived. Waxwings can be so funny to see, and I love the hummingbirds that visit us in the summer. Glad to know you are enjoying the spring in the UK.
Of course I had to learn more about “a sugaring-off”! very interesting – especially when I read that maple syrup was once an everyday sweetener for the masses while cane sugar was a luxury!
Because we make our own syrup, Hollis, we use it for almost everything. It’s healthier than refined sugar and has a sweetness all its own. Truly delicious.
That’s wonderful! I love maple syrup. I buy it periodically and ration it carefully due to cost. 🙁
I don’t know what it is with me that the minute anyone mentions boiling sap it just instantly brings to mind the witches in MacBeth. I suppose it is that perfection thing, as it should be!
What about boiling mad?
I did have the experience of doing this too with the Herring’s with horses and everything until they started using lines running into the shack, Bruce Herring pulled out some of the boards that held some of the recordings, but the shack is still standing!
Making syrup is such a traditional activity. The sugar bushes that operate commercially need the plastic lines. Connoisseurs say you can taste the difference. I don’t know since we only use our own.
It looks as though the progress of snow melting in your Quebec garden is pretty similar to mine in Maine. I was able to get out today and begin spring clean-up in some flower beds — very satisfying.
I love the idea of the big pool of blue around your tree. I begin looking eagerly for hints of spring in February and always think I see the branches of trees start to thicken with new growth then.
Isn’t it great that spring is finally here?
Soon we’ll be cleaning up the garden but everything is still very soggy. I agree, Jean, the arrival of spring this year is truly wonderful.