Signs of Spring

As we approach Valentine’s Day, I find myself feeling the full influence of what we call in California “false spring”. Every year at this time, I feel the pull of the sunshine and the slightly warmer days, fooling me into thinking that it is time to plant. Instead, it is a good time to prune, plant bare-root trees and flowers, and clean up from the winter – leaves that are in unattractive places, mud-spattered areas, jumbled pots and sticks flung around the yard.

Fig branch budding

Nonetheless, the signs of spring are evident all around the garden and I can take comfort in their presence. The first blooms every year are the snowdrops – a lovely little bulb that brightens everyone’s heart. The first year we lived here, my son (who was barely 6 at the time) and I went out in the yard in late January to take a look around.

First snowdrops

We spied the Snowdrop blossoms and our hearts soared. My tender-hearted boy let tears fall at the immense joy he felt seeing these lovely little harbingers of spring.

Not long after, the Oxalis begins to show its face. Many people don’t like this plant and call it a weed. It does tend to be invasive, but I find that it’s lovely yellow blossoms and pretty leaves  (easily visible with the snowdrops here) make up for its effusive enthusiasm. I just pull it out of the areas that I don’t want it living in and enjoy its beauty everywhere else. It has a flavorful spike that it puts out and is

Oxalis flowers

often called Sourgrass. Another child-friendly plant, the kids love to suck out the sour flavor in the early spring.

One of our favorite features of the kind of “wild and natural” style of gardening we do is the presence of volunteer natives every year. When we first moved here, we found large patches of Miner’s Lettuce in the back of the property. It is a treat in the early spring, and we love adding it to our salads for a little spice. It grows profusely in the hills around here, but we aren’t allowed to pick it – it’s against the law! When we expanded the garden last summer, I was a little concerned that we were covering up all the wild areas that the miner’s lettuce would grow. My fears were unfounded.

Now, in this earliest of springtime, I am finding many miner’s lettuce volunteers popping up all over. Some are in the vegetable beds, where I leave them to happily grow; others are placing themselves in pots and seem quite happy there as well.

Evening Primrose leaves

Evidence of one of my favorite natives, Evening Primrose, is showing itself quite early this year. This is a wonderful flower that is useful as an herb and is one of the flower essences I use in my flower essence therapy practice. When this one is blooming, I’ll show you it’s lovely blossom.

The many bulbs that I planted in the fall also begin to show themselves at this time of year. Though they aren’t blooming quite yet, when I look closely, I can see their leaves pushing up through the soil. The freesias, one of my favorite bulbs, have been showing their leaves for over a month already.

Sweet pea starts

Sweet peas also come up early in the spring if you get the early bloomers. Here is a pot of sweet peas that started growing a month ago and are looking quite happy even without much rain.

Last year, I planted some goldenrod as I read that it is a good companion plant. I also use it with my flower essence practice and enjoy having those flowers in my garden as much as possible. I didn’t know how the goldenrod would behave after it died back. I looked a week ago at the pot it is in and there is already happy evidence of its return!

Goldenrod leaves

A childhood favorite, Pussy Willow, grows in my front yard. For me, this tree is all heart. As an avid cat person, I relate on many levels to the pussy willow. It’s association with love and joy stays deep in my heart.

Early Pussy Willow Buds

Interesting that its soft little buds appear around Valentine’s Day each year.

Speaking of hearts, did you know that there is scientific study demonstrating that people die from “broken heart syndrome”?  Dr. Kate Scannell recently wrote in an article in the Contra Costa Times, “Experts think broken heart syndrome is caused by adrenaline surges triggered during physical trauma or acute emotional states such as bereavement, anxiety and anger.” So, if you know someone who has recently experienced a deep loss now is a good time to offer solace. Spring blooms are a beautiful way to open the heart again. As I mentioned, flower essence therapy uses flowers for that very purpose. The flower’s essence heals the stricken soul.

Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled on says,  “Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.” What a nice way to say “Love” on Valentine’s Day!

            We’re taking orders for heart-shaped fudge for Valentine’s Day until Friday, Feb. 10.

Who would you like to give some love to this Valentine’s Day?




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