When I step out into my February yard here in New England (U.S.) and survey my planting beds, I feel a bit like a baseball scout who keeps tabs on players in the minor leagues. In baseball lingo, it's called "beating the bushes": that is, scouring the minor leagues (or "bush leagues") for emerging talent. And believe me, my yard in February just isn't up to major league standards: it's a couple of months away from playing at that level.
Late winter is the time of year when I search for diamonds in the rough, budding stars who show promise but are still in the developmental stage. I do enjoy one advantage over a baseball scout, though: it's a new season, yes, but most of the players have already proven themselves in the past. So it's not a question of "if" they will blossom into their full potential (again), just "when." Still, as far as I'm concerned, they'll have to prove themselves all over again: Where would the fun be if I took their (eventual) success for granted?
So which candidates are emerging as future stars of my yard ? Well, for one thing, when I pass my pussy willow bushes now, more and more I'm noticing the fluffy little cat's paws responsible for the feline element in their name. Gone are those hopeless winter days when the plants look like little more than a bunch of sticks.
Of course, no late-winter scouting report would be complete without mention of spring bulb plants. The spears of their green leaves stab aggressively through the ground this time of year, signifying that they mean business. My daffodils, Siberian iris and snowdrops have all experienced breakthroughs.
It's almost time to store the snow shovels away for another year. Good riddance: they're so bush league! My yard will soon be major league caliber once again. I'm just hoping my flowering quince bushes (picture) make it through spring training in good health this year, so that they'll be ready for Opening Day (last year, they were attacked by killer rabbits).
Related resource: Year-Round Interest in the Yard
Photo ©2011 David Beaulieu (licensed to About, Inc.)