Jumping the Gun

Spring has arrived, at least the calendar tells us so. Here in southern Ontario (Canada), it feels a bit more Spring-like than winterish. Is winterish a word? No, you say? It doesn’t matter, I like it so I shall use it. Signs of Spring are starting to become more obvious. The air smells different – earthy and wonderful, yet there is still a chill in the air when the breeze blows. Yesterday I pointed out to my daughter that the narcissus’ in the front garden have started to laboriously push their way up through the mulch to reach for the sun. We were perhaps a little too excited by this as we clucked like hens loudly about the coming of Spring flowers and warmer temperatures while hovering over the tiny green shoots. I felt as though we may just break out in song and dance! Perhaps we should cut back on watching Glee for a bit. The appearance of these tender green shoots encouraged me to look around a bit more at things we take for granted when the seasons change and life-force starts to become evident in the plant world. Yes, this is the plant nerd coming out in me again. I could inspect plants in minor detail for hours on end and never lose interest. I am utterly fascinated by the tenacity and instinctual intelligence of the botanical world around us.




Spring shoots




Although Spring is definitely my favourite time of the year (and not just because my birthday is in the Spring), there is a phenomena that always irks me each and every Spring. I am about to share with you one of my greatest pet peeves so get ready. It may not seem like much to most of you but to me this is HUGE. After a few nice days in a row, people start to flood outside into their gardens raking like fiends and start working in their gardens. Hey, I am as antsy as the next person about getting out in the soil and getting dirty but slow down!  This, my friends and readers, is my pet peeve. Over-zealous gardeners that are starting too early and possibly doing more harm than good. This won’t ring true world-wide obviously, but here where we enjoy four distinct seasons we need to stop rushing the next one before Mother Nature is ready. We are pouncing on Mother Nature as she is stretching, waking from her long slumber through the winter and demanding that she perform her magic instantly. I would think she would like to enjoy a cup of coffee before she gets down to business, just like you and I would. We need to focus not so much on getting things in order but instead enjoy the order of things that take place. Think about that a moment.




Non-gardeners and gardeners may view nature differently but we often have something in common. The desire to keep nature in its place or to tame it. To use it for our own purposes whether it be for cultivation of food or aesthetics. This has both pros and cons and I think has inspired another post at another time. Instead of rushing things to the next stage, why not watch the splendour that nature offers at this most magical time of the year. Have you ever noticed the formation of a flower bud? How the small, hard green bud slowly alters into a tightly wound group of petals that unfurl until its beauty is on full display. If that weren’t incredible enough, pollinators like bees start to notice this gorgeous display and come in for a landing. This whole process is mystical and hypnotising…I’m surprised I accomplish anything in the Spring!




When we slow down our need to control the elements of nature in our yards we allow nature to do what is intended without our interference and interruption at a critical time in its life cycle. For instance, if I rush outside today and start raking leaves that have blown into my garden over the winter, I will be removing the protective barrier that keeps tiny shoots from being hit with frost or even being damaged by me raking over them. Fresh shoots are immensely strong to push through soil to reach the sky but are also extremely fragile. Being mindful of the growth cycles in your zone and garden is a much more logical way to plan your tasks than rushing out and being a weekend warrior and doing everything at once. Treat nature with respect, supply the correct care and you will be rewarded.




Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.
– H. H. Williams

To begin your gardening year off on the right note inform yourself as to what zone you live in. This is imperative to proper plant selection and care.

Click here for North American plant zone map.

Click here for Canadian plant zone map.

Click here for European plant zone map.

Click here for Australian plant zone map.

Click here for African plant zone map.




Take the time this Spring to inform yourself about correct timing for garden tasks in your zone before jumping the gun. Your garden will thank you. It also gives you time to enjoy the show!

“If you really want to draw close to your garden, you must remember first of
all that you are dealing with a being that lives and dies; like the human body,
with its poor flesh, its illnesses at times repugnant. One must not always see
it dressed up for a ball, manicured and immaculate.”
– Fernand Lequenne,


    • Hard to know what to wear when the weather won’t make up its mind, isn’t it? It swings like a pendulum around here lately too. Sunny and warm(ish), then windy and cold with occassional snow that doesn’t stay, then cloudy. I’m ready for full-on Spring too!

  1. I agree with your philosophy Mels. People too frequently see the changing seasons as nothing more than an excuse to create task lists. But in defense of the early gardeners, sometimes the desire to put our hands in the soil overcomes our common sense.

    • I totally understand the desire to dig in, however, there are many tasks that can be undertaken outdoors that don’t require disrupting nature’s awakening. For instance, edging the garden gets us digging in without creating chaos or turning the compost pile for aeration. We can be outdoors without disrupting the flow of things if we alter the need to control. Want to help me turn the compost?

      • I never thought of it as disrupting things before. I must have felt to the Earth like a bratty kid messing up her room. Bring on the compost. No skunks though. 😉

      • Ha ha ha! I keep looking at the compost and thinking of skunks…are you inside my head reading my thoughts? You, my dear, are lots of things but bratty isn’t one of them. 😉 xo

  2. Just a wonderful post again Melissa. I absolutely agree with you. It’s an absolute obsession we have to want to control and shape everything around us. It’s also part our demand for the instantaneous in our lives. We want it now so we do it now. To hell with how nature feels about it. We have no concept of the rhythmic movement of nature and getting in touch with that rhythm. You’ve got me going now so I better shut up. I might just say something I regret, but I understand something of the feelings you have about this issue. Enjoy the coming of Spring. What a marvellous season of the year.

    • Why, thank you Don. It is good to know that my posts are enjoyable. No need to hold back on my account. Instant gratification is a slippery slope, indeed. Perhaps this is a blog topic you would like to cover. I would love to read your thoughts on humans vs. Nature. This was the topic I was referring to when I stated that I felt a future post coming. I have a feeling we would be on the same team, Don. Nature wins every time in my books.

      • I agree Melissa. Nature does win every time – certainly a topic to think about. I have to watch very carefully the militant in me. Thanks again for your thoughts – really appreciated them.

  3. Oh, I did enjoy that bit of chat! Thanks to both of you, and to Don for giving me your link Melissa. I’m in love with leaf fall, and where I live on the KZN South Coast just to have one tree that shows the seasons is a gift! I rush out and take pictures of the shed gold leaves before the garden maintenance team manicures everything. My camera is ready and waiting – we aren’t there yet. It’s 21C tonight.I’ve only recently become aware of my need to shed as willingly as trees do, but I plan to thrive in the beauty of life’s Autumn season.

    • I am glad you stopped by, Kathy. Thanks for joining in! I am grateful to Don for passing along my link…thank you Don. Ah, leaves falling in autumn is so beautiful. It is interesting that each season presents us with a unique but equally wonderful gift for the senses. I hope you will be sharing your photos. I love your analogy of shedding willingly like the trees. Lovely. Enjoy the autumn, Kathy and thanks again for checking out my blog and commenting.

  4. I noticed your blog name on Don’s blog and was curious to visit as I love nature. Your advice to not rush in and tame nature is excellent! I love the contrast of new green growth against brown leaves that blanket them.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • I am glad you followed your curiosity and checked out my blog…welcome! Years ago I read a book (wish I could remember what it was called) that referred to the need for conformity amongst humans living in suburbs and how everyone liked to not only keep their lawn immaculate but separated to show ownership over their chunk of land. This got me thinking even at a tender age of how humanity wants to “own” nature. Thanks for the comment.

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