A Year in the Yard: Mid-April

Bright greetings! It’s been a beautiful week with welcome sunshine and a few April showers! Life is returning to the land….forsythia and magnolias are bursting with color and American toads are trilling and mating in the marsh.

Toads mating

Large female (right side of photo) is laying a long strand of eggs behind her while the male on top holds her in amplexus and fertilizes the eggs. Another male waits nearby at the top of the photo.

The sounds of spring are in the air…the whir of blackbirds, the sharp chirp of cardinals,

Purple deadnettleand buzzing bees are visiting the early flowers. Purple deadnettle is enticing bumblebees with an intoxicating scent, and the leaves and flowers make a delicious (if a little fuzzy) addition to spring salads for us humans. I was happy to see them blossom in my yard this week, along with dandelions and violets!

OUT AND ABOUT

In the forest, ramps are up, as well as some spring ephemerals – bloodroot, trout lily, toothwort, and Dutchmen’s breeches, all enjoying the sunshine before the trees leaf out and shade their habitat. Mayapples are just unfolding their umbrellas, and bluebells are about to open if they haven’t already. It’s a good week to get out into the woods if you want to see these spring wildflowers – they don’t last long! I imagine that the spring beauties may also be ready to flower this week. (Please click on the photos to see larger images – these plants are gorgeous!)

HOME SWEET HOME

Back in my yard, Echinacea and lemon balm are looking vigorous, bee balm has broken through the soil, balloon flower just made an appearance two days ago, and tulips are getting ready to bloom this week.

Wild and welcome weedy migrants include ground ivy, speedwell, plantain, mouse-eared chickweed, dandelion, violets, sorrel, mock strawberry, and one random small patch of nettles next to my driveway (I have no explanation for this one).

Unwelcome visitors include a viciously thorny cane that came from who knows where. IThorny canet looks like wild blackberry and is spreading quickly but has not flowered or fruited in the past, so this year, it’s gonna have to go. (This is going to be a beast to dig up – I’m not looking forward to it.) 

I also have way more Poke (coming up in front of the tulips) than I could ever use. Anybody herbalists out there need some poke root? C’mon over! Please. 

Okay…it’s time to get back outside, feet on the earth and hands in the soil. And building a raised bed for veggies. It’s my first try at a garden bed, having only grown container tomatoes and peppers in the past. This has already been quite the adventure! I’m sure I’m late and unprepared and very naive, but I’m gonna keep trying to pull this garden together anyway. Even if it fails, I’ll have lots more knowledge and experience to try again next year.  🙂

Oh! And one last thing…

GO NATIVE!

There’s nothing like being outside in soothing sunshine and among beautiful plants to lift your spirits! If you want to add new color and texture to your yard with plants that are easy to grow, low maintenance, good for your yard, and attract butterflies and birds…mark you calender for the Native Plant Sale at Coverdale Farm on May 2-3. Click here for more info and an online catalog. If you stop by on Saturday morning 5/2, I’ll be helping out – feel free to ask me about native medicinal plants or plants that will bring beautiful wildlife to your yard. There are some nice options available this year.

Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin also carries some lovely native plants. Ask your your local nursery what natives they stock!

May the coming week bring sweet sunshine, fresh breezes, and brilliant color to brighten your days.

Greenly blessings,

Sue

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About earthgrl

Herbalist, Naturalist, and Reiki Master posts her observations, musings, and hard-earned wisdom about the natural world and how it speaks to our spirit and heals us, inside and out.
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