It happens every year. In early April I start peering around the yard, looking for the earliest signs of spring and for the joy that new growth and renewal always brings me.
The violets in the lawn are always the first native plants that bloom. This year they were plentiful, scattered throughout the barely-green grass.
Next is the red maple, so named because all of its buds, flowers, and early leaves are red. This early-bloomer is critical as a food source for the native bees that are just emerging.
A week or so later, this barren strawberry has become that lovely spring green and has started to bloom. It is sitting in the sun in the most protected spot in the yard, so it is a couple of weeks earlier than the barren strawberries planted elsewhere in the shade.
There are other signs that spring is here, besides the native plants. The emerging chives and the vegetable beds being readied to plant peas and lettuces, for instance.
The bird population shows its own signs of spring, too. Redwing blackbirds come to the bird feeder only for a few weeks each spring, the cardinal’s coloring brightens to clear red, and the tom turkeys strut around with full tail fans.
As dedicated as I am to native plants, the sign of spring that I find the most cheering is the bursting forth of the daffodils. This photo is from Sylvan Gardens in Chatham, which has thousands of daffodils planted for all to enjoy.