Although spring does not begin officially until Equinox in March, Eugeneans might well pronounce that spring begins on Lunar New Year, Feb. 16, this year. It’s also the average first bloom of native flowering plants that have flowers pollinated by insects, such as osoberry and spring beauty.
Native filbert, having wind pollination, actually began releasing pollen last month. Without petals or nectar, the catkins billowing billions of pollen grains activated the season’s first attack in allergy sufferers.
After December’s freeze, cool winter rains presage early blooming, whether weedy like chickweed and cardamine or ornamentals like snowdrop, anemone and crocus. Daphne, daffodils and tulips will follow before we know it. The appearance of perennials signals it’s time to plant frost-hardy crops like snap peas, arugula and chard. Onion sets will be available soon.
There has been a change in the number and kinds of birds visiting our home feeders. Many have moved away to look for nesting sites. Steller’s jays attack suet vigorously. Huge flocks of Canada geese cackling overhead means migrations are beginning.
Digging our fingers in garden dirt distracts us momentarily from the grim prospects of global warming. The inability of our country’s administration to recognize the challenge of global warming is deeply discouraging. In the growing conflict between immediate profits and conservation, the drive to exploit is dominating politics. Society’s connection to nature is threatened, as the proportion of urban dwellers grows due to migration from country to city. Developing urban nature parks is critical for sanity.
David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his website, fernzenmosses.com.