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Spring Has Started!


For the past two weeks I’ve been charging around saying I’m willing to bet real money that when the snow melts, there will be inch-tall snowdrops and crocuses already up and just days away from blooming.

It’s still too early to start collecting my money, but today, the icicle that once cascaded a full 3 feet down from the front porch gutter has vanished, and all that’s left is a steady drip-drip from the melting roof. The front yard garden is still blanketed with 2 feet of snow.

But one plant is already getting ready to break dormancy. As I ambled back from mailing some bills at the corner mailbox, I stopped by the front fence to take a peek at my ‘Jens Munk’ rose, a rugosa hybrid that is one of the Canadian Explorer series, developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba. Already this gives you two clues to its hardiness — originating in Canada and part rugosa.

Although my‘Jens Munk’ rose currently looks like a collection of dead brown sticks, in June it will be bedecked with semi-double pink blossoms.(Photo by Ron Capek)

And sure enough, as I bent for a closer look, I spied teeny red buds marching up and down the otherwise dead-looking brown canes. That plant is alive (!!!) I realized, and already it’s charging up for the show ahead. So courage, mes amis. Life is going to get better.

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questions

I have read that purple coneflowers (Echinacea) are a good source of food for birds in the winter. Will they be okay if not trimmed back until spring? If so, how early should they be trimmed?

Can I grow asparagus from seed? I saved the little red berries from my plants.

Is it possible to plant and grow Italian cypress in the Chicago area? Are our winters too severe for it? If they are, is there an alternative conifer that will provide a similar look?

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