Monday, May 15, 2006

Spring Yellows

The rain continued here today but fortunately failed to set +8" records as it has from the southern Maine coast on down to Peabody-Danvers Massachusetts. Mid Vermont saw about 5" and various other pockets received 1.4" or above. The weather radar tonight suggests the weather will continue for another three days.

Gardeners almost always listen to weather reports and read newspaper and online reports to keep tuned in to when they can work outside. I have always liked the Eye on the Sky which is a weather program put on by a couple forecasters working out of the Fairbanks Museum in St Johnsbury, Vermont. Their site is at

The Eye on the Sky does a close job tracking what will happen and since we live only 20 miles from St Johsnbury, the reporting is especially important to us. From late spring through hard frost there is a Farm and Garden Report and a journal of historical accounts. Today for example, they reported that in 1884 there was a giant snowstorm in Newbury, Vermont about 40 miles SE of here. 24-36" of snow fell in that area. Snow in early May is not uncommon but is much less common than a hundred years ago. 2 feet of snow was noteworthy even back then when attention was paid to getting spring farm crops in the ground.

The yellows of spring trees, shrubs and flowers offer plenty to look at. A couple days ago the euphorbias caught my eye. I have always called them spurge and the ones which spread around here must either have been here when we arrived in '89 or moved in by wind, bird or animal. There is a certain group of Vermonters who think they are a fine plant and one they "have to have". The most we'll ever do is point out a shovel and offer a paper bag so they can cart away another less than desirable plant. One of those "eyes of the beholder" things I guess.

These are bright yellow and although the bracts are often thought of as the real flowers, the brightness is like a signal light informing that spring is here. All that shines is not bright and the euphorbias have a milky juice which is latex in nature and in some folks cause a dermatitis much like poison ivy. I remind people to use care until they understand how they are affected but few seem to listen.

As I looked around tonight the euphorbias, my spurges, were bright eye catchers in comparison to the fading daffodils and forsythias. When the first day of warm weather arrives after all this rain, the dandelions will burst open in abundance and become the next eye catcher. For right now I'll just settle for the newness of spring and the smells of a roast chicken dinner calling me to the table.

From the hill above Peacham Pond, where the rain is pounding on the roof and windows,
evening thoughts and best gardening wishes!

George Africa

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