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Signs of early spring start to appear

  • By Annie Calovich
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at 7:06 a.m.

I had a sense of deja vu as master gardener Janie Chisholm made one of my favorite observations of all time on Facebook: “Love, love, love waking up to the birds singing!”

I commented on her status update that the seasons do come around, but it’s been only relatively recently that we’ve been observing them on Facebook. I seem to remember Janie’s same observation last year — though perhaps later in the year than the beginning of February.

On the same day of this warm week, I noticed bugs darting about outside above the birds feeding and drinking in my yard. I’d been hearing more and more mentions of early spring, and seeing signs of my own, and it certainly feels like it’s on its early way. (Daylight saving time starts a month from Sunday, by the way.)

Along with the joy about the thaw in our winter — such as it is/was — is the distress about the continuing drought that we will continue to reference on these Home & Garden pages. Bright spots in the dry gloom come when I get a great tip on efficient watering, as happened this week.

“I have to give my husband, Bill, credit for the idea,” Bonnie Condit of Winfield e-mailed me. “We take 5-gallon buckets, fill them with water and let them set overnight. In the morning they are frozen solid, and we dump the ice out next to our young trees and in the flowering bulb gardens. During the daytime the sun slowly melts the ice. We make sure each young tree gets 10 gallons every two weeks. I realize it’s half of what I give them in the summer. But it’s better than nothing.”

Extension agent Bob Neier agreed that this was a good idea for slow watering, the kind that should all soak in, with none of the run-off that we all dread. He added that since the water will go straight down in the soil rather than spread out laterally, gardeners may want to space three of the giant ice cubes around a tree for more even watering.

Back to the birds. I asked naturalist Jim Mason at the Great Plains Nature Center about their song.

“We’re starting to get some of that kind of talk out of robins and cardinals, for sure, but they don’t wait around — they will always start early,” Jim said. How I love them!

“Within the next month the cardinals are going to start singing real strong, and we’ll start seeing the male robins battling with each other in the middle of the backyard,” Jim continued. “Those are the most noticeable.” Chickadees and tufted titmice will start getting with the program, too, one day soon, and most warblers will chime in around late April or early May.

But projections could be a bit off.

“It’s amazing. Two years in a row we don’t really have a winter,” Jim said. It is amazing. Buds are fattening and daffodils are popping; some of the flowers on a Japanese apricot at Botanica already have opened.

“At home I have a flowering quince on the south side of my house that’s about to bloom,” Jim said. “It put on a couple flowers right at the end of the season that was totally out of cycle. It wants to make little quinces.”

It seems the least we can do is be awake to the signs of stirring life and give it a chance at fruition.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com.

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