Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring is just around the corner--even in Chicago!

By: Dr. Kayri Havens, Director of Plant Science and Conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden

I heard this morning that our “winter that wasn’t” was the 4th warmest on record. So say the statistics kept by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for the lower 48 states for the period December-February. Based on records going back to the 1890s, only the winters of 1991-1992, 1998-1999, 1999-2000 were warmer. For Illinois, it was our 3rd warmest winter on record. All of this indicates that if it is not spring in your neighborhood yet, it will be soon!

We’ve just had two unseasonably warm days (upper 60s) and the signs of spring are popping up everywhere. Buds are swelling, catkins are elongating and the weeping willows are starting their spring progression from brown to yellow-green to green. The snowdrops, hellebores and first crocuses have been blooming for some time. Bright yellow groupings of witch hazel shrubs light up the drab landscape. The foliage of many bulbs is well out of the ground and the flower buds on the early daffodils are almost ready to open. Pussy willows are looking furry and red maples are beginning to bloom. Outside my office, I’m seeing male red-winged blackbirds setting up their territories and hearing the cardinals start to sing. What’s happening in your neighborhood?

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden: Daffodils in bloom at the Chicago Botanic Garden March 2012

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