There's nothing like snow, blustery winds, or a chilling rain to make one long to turn the calendar ahead to May. Thumbing through enticing and beautifully photographed garden catalogs helps brighten these dreary days, but it doesn't completely console me. It will take the sight of a jaunty jonquil or the scent of a damask rose to melt away my winter blues.
Fortunately I know exactly how long it will be until I can get a sniff of my first spring posy because over the years I've made notes of when my roses and other important plants will begin their new parade of blooms.
For example, based on the notes I've kept, I'm confident that on April 13, 2014, I'll see at least one showy Souvenir de la Malmaison rose in my garden. It has been blooming around that date since the late 1990s and never disappoints.
I also know that I can plan on seeing male hummingbirds zipping around the garden about four days later. And the next week another Bourbon rose, Zephirine Drouhin, and the David Austin charmer Cottage Rose will make their spring debuts.
Fireflies should light up the evening sky beginning May 15 – a sure sign that summer is on the way.
Anticipating the day the garden will burst into bloom can be a tonic on a cold winter's day. But having a rough idea of when each variety will be at its best is helpful, too, when planning special events, whether it's a family barbecue or an outdoor garden party.
Your "diary" needn't be more time-consuming than jotting down a plant name on a standard calendar, then updating bloom dates yearly.
You can also get a small notepad and keep track of plants you add to the garden each spring. In the depths of winter, go back and evaluate each addition's performance.
A brief evaluation can be a money-saver if you are like me and keep buying perennials that won't tolerate the cold in my zone. (Note to self: This year, when you are enamored of Spanish lavender at the garden center, remember it must be considered an annual!)
My diary efforts are fairly simple, but don't dismiss the idea of doing a more elaborate journal. Some people add photographs, even their own paintings, to notations about plants, insects, weather conditions, and so forth. Such a journal can be an invaluable garden tool and an informative heirloom.
I wrote extensively about my vegetable garden one particular year. I only kept the notebook going for a season, but I still enjoy going back to reread my entries. And it's probably no coincidence that I had my best veggie garden ever while I was so attentive.
So do yourself a favor as winter closes in: Consider sowing some spring aspirations now in a personal journal or diary. It may give your gardener's heart a chance to blossom early.