Welcome, spring!

Crocus, blackbirds, and two-winged flies are popping up everywhere! They're welcome signs that spring will soon arrive.

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    A welcome sign that spring and warmer weather are on their way is seeing groups of cheerful crocus pop up.
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    Sunshine, balmy temperatures, and gorgeous crocus – what else could lighten a gardener's heart as much, after a long, long winter?
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    Zomerschoom is one of the broken virus tulips that fueled Tulipmania in the early 1600s, and it's my favorite.
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Last week, there was a foot of slushy snow on the ground. Today, as I cleaned out the front flower bed, trimmed roses and admired the daffodil and woodland hyacinth sprouts, I spotted crocus blooming in the middle of the lawn.

Black and iridescent green Diptera or two-winged flies, which feed on rotting matter were around the flowers chewing up turf decayed during the long winter.

Male redwing blackbirds have returned, too. I’ve seen a dozen males in the area, each already staking out its territory. The males return north a couple weeks ahead of the females so that they have land and a house (nest) built to attract the most desirable of the ladies.

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Tulips are pushing out of the shredded leaves and compost mulch, too. I can hardly wait until Zoomerschoon, a cream and strawberry flame tulip purchased from Old House Heirloom Bulbs, blooms.[See Photo No. 3, above, and also photo at left.]

This antique – first found in 1620 – is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of the streaked tulips of Tulipmania. They carried a virus in their genes that ''broke'' colors in breathtaking patterns.

Spring is really here! Living in frigid USDA plant-hardiness Zone 4b, along the Wisconsin-Illinois border, I’ve become used to late springs and a persisting snow pack into April in most years. So this is a treat.

I’m enjoying every new green sprout that pokes out of the ground and the balmy 55 F. (13 C) sunshine. Next week, snow is predicted!

Doreen Howard, the Edible Explorer, is one of nine garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. If it’s edible and unusual, Doreen figures out a way to grow it in her USDA Zone 4b garden. She’ll try anything once, even smelly Durian. A former garden editor at Woman’s Day, she writes regularly for The American Gardener and The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s Garden Guide.

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