Do I detect a thaw?

Longer days and stronger sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s springtime.  Warmer weather and a lack of snowstorms means spring to me, and since we’re 0-2 on that front, this weekend’s forecast of almost normal weather gives me some hope that the snow may eventually melt.  My fingers are crossed that the receding snow will reveal healthy snowdrop sprouts, and in the front bed along the foundation this might be true.  This bunch has come along since the last time it was uncovered (Jan 13th), but it’s still far behind last year’s bloom date of Jan 31st.  Still it amazes me that even under feet of snow and temperatures down to 0F (-18C) they continue to grow, disregarding the frozen soil and surrounding ice.snowdrops and snow

Indoors is a different story.  The forced snowdrops are at their peak, and I regret giving them the cold shoulder in my last post.forced galanthus

There’s plenty of variation in bloom shape, plant height, and color and pattern of the green markings inside.  I’m quite pleased all over again and it makes me even more excited the ones outside might someday open!forced galanthus elwesii

A better gardener would keep track of their favorites, and carefully plant them out for observation…. but I’m just fine with big patches of anonymous white.  If there are a few real special ones I can separate them out, but we’ll see what happens once they have a chance to grow outside in the real garden.  The pale drops are nice, but the dark green markings such as this one also look interesting once open. snowdrops forced indoors

This one has such a stumpy, stout stem (but small bloom) that it really contrasts with the daintier one to the lower right of this photo.strong stem on galanthus

Having potted up all 200 of my bulbs for growing indoors, there are pots all over.  I might have gone a bit overboard since usually the windowsills are reserved for post-bloom hangout until things warm up enough to go outside.snowdrops on windowsill

I’ve been pollinating away, so hopefully there will be a few snowdrop seeds to start this summer.  My fingers are crossed since it looks like the sprouts I had coming along with so much promise in January all died during the last couple arctic blasts.

There’s a different kind of hope though.  Birds are singing in the sunshine in a way not heard since last spring, and this little guy was spotted rooting around under the feeder.  He’s not a mouse or vole, but a little half-blind shrew.  I’ve never seen one out (alive) but this guy let me take his close-up from about 12 inches away while he burrowed around in the seed hulls looking for bugs and whatnot.  He’s an interesting guy, one of only a few poisonous mammals (their saliva is toxic enough to kill a similar sized animal), and their hyperactive lifestyle has them eating nearly their entire weight in food each day.  They’re also a little stinky, which we discovered last fall when an opening in the foundation let a couple into the basement. shrew at feeder

Stay out by the feeder is all I have to say… that and have a great weekend!

21 comments on “Do I detect a thaw?

  1. Pauline says:

    What an amazing number of snowdrops you have just waiting to be set free in the big wide world! It must be frustrating to have so much snow covering all your spring bulbs, hopefully soon your snow will melt and you can get gardening once more!

    • bittster says:

      I suspect that once the snow melts, spring will catch right up! Today with the sun out, I’m fighting the urge to shovel snow off plants in order to thaw them out more quickly 🙂

  2. Chloris says:

    You have some really interesting snowdrops. Big patches of anonymous white are all very well but it is such fun to examine them all and see all their different markings. I hope you can get outside soon and start planting.

    • bittster says:

      I do like examining them all, and I may have a few coming along who are not completely anonymous… they’re just a few sunny days away from opening and I can’t wait! It will be nice to get a shovel into the ground once again.

  3. Yes, there is definitely a thaw underway, and this time I hope it will not be reversed by another snow storm. Still the piles of snow are so deep I’m not at all sure how long it will take for bare ground to be the rule and not the exception.

    • bittster says:

      Spring will come one way or another. I like a nice early spring, but find that even the late ones catch up by the time May rolls around. Still a sunny March beats snow any day and I’m hoping the thaw continues.

  4. I did not know shrew’s saliva was toxic. I too never saw one above ground like that. Very cool. I have no idea what is under the snow here, the snowdrops will have to wait awhile yet.

  5. pbmgarden says:

    What foresight to plan ahead and have the snowdrops for company until the thaw. You have some interesting ones.

  6. We are supposed to get 5 to 8 inches of snow Wed, night, so I think it will be a while longer before I will see my first snowdrop. I have never grown them inside but may have to follow your example in the future. Many of yours do look intriguing. I think you might have said once where you get the seed. Which post was that, could you tell me?

    • bittster says:

      Yeah… I saw the snow too. At least here we’ll have some rain mixed in (I hope).
      I wish there was a source for seed, if there is I haven’t found it yet. Mine came from the bulbs I forced last winter, but this batch doesn’t seem to be setting nearly as much seed. I’m going to see if I can’t get the ones outside pollinated, if things go well I’ll let you know and send some your way!

  7. Cathy says:

    He’s cute. Hope he doesn’t like snowdrop bulbs for lunch! 😉 Your indoor snowdrops are looking great – a good idea to have some indoors and some outdoors to prolong the season. I really do hope the snow melts for you soon – and you can see those snowdrops opening in the next couple of weeks! We have had some very mild and sunny spring days, but it’s still frosty at night.

    • bittster says:

      He better not develop a taste for bulbs!
      The snow is melting today, and I’ve already seen a few snowdrops appearing. I thought things would be way behind, but apparently they’re anxious for spring too 🙂
      I’ve been enjoying your early spring, but it makes our winter seem all the more brutal!

  8. Christina says:

    How big is the strew? It is a lot like the dead animal I found inthe garden, although that was without its head, but the rear feet and tail are identical. The dead ‘mole’ was about 8 inches long without the tail.

    • bittster says:

      I would place it at about the size of a mouse. I thought of that when I saw your victim, but it’s hard to say without the “top”. Voles also look somewhat similar, but more brown, moles have those long claws on the front feet… Maybe a shrew it is (or was)!

      • Christina says:

        It was much bigger than a mouse, and without the head it is, was, difficult to be sure.

      • bittster says:

        looking at your picture again, I think you were right the first time with your mole ID. The shrew is smaller and his tail is shorter haired, the mole seems to have coarser hair there.

  9. Annette says:

    I’m glad that the end of winter is approaching at your end. It’s so warm here, it almost feels like summer already! Your snowdrops are a joy. Do you know their names or was it a “mixed bag”? Your shrew looks really a bit blinded, poor chap…has to get used to the sun again. Have a good week, Frank 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Hi Annette! You’re so lucky to have spring well on its way there, but I like to think of all the things we still have to look forward to such as snowdrops 🙂
      Mine were a mixed bag of elwesii, and they seem to be an interesting bunch. It remains to be seen how they will do in the open garden, but I’m hoping for the best. We had some warm weather and now have a few outside, but I haven’t motivated myself yet to put up some photos.
      The shrew does have a helpless cute way to him, but apparently they’re on the nasty side. I’m glad they’re as small as they are, I’d rather not come across a nasty cat-sized creature with poisonous saliva… I’d be much less accepting to one of them at the bird feeder 🙂

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