Spring is a fast-moving train of garden goodness

The back garden after I did a bunch of work this morning.
The back garden after I did a bunch of work this morning.

We just finished winter–I hope–and now spring has decided to come on like a fast-moving train. At 1:00 p.m., it’s 72F with a forecasted high of 81F. Sounds lovely, but it’s also ten degrees too hot for this early in the year. At this rate, my lettuce won’t have a productive end in my salad bowl before it turns bitter. The tulips will grow up too fast like leggy teenagers, open themselves up flat as though in supplication to the sun and then, promptly wither. These temps remind me of 2011, but I’m trying to stay calm. Let’s hope we don’t have another year of hellish temperatures like that one. My soul can’t take it.

Daffodils count for pure enjoyment. Rodents and deer don't like them, and they return year after year.
Daffodils count for pure enjoyment. Rodents and deer don’t like them, and they return year after year.

Instead, let’s enjoy our current daffodils and fondly remember 2013, when spring began in fits and starts with freezing temperatures as late as May 2, but summer was delightful. For those of you who don’t live in Oklahoma, that’s unheard of, but I was hauling out row covers in early May, and my Sambucus nigra Black Lace was covered in ice on April 10, 2013. Let’s hope the new Itoh peony I planted next to it won’t suffer the same fate.

A yellow Itoh peony. I'll have to look up the name. I forgot to tag it last year.
A yellow Itoh peony. I’ll have to look up the name. I forgot to tag it last year.

There’s a few good reasons I’m refreshing your memory about last year. Just because it’s 80F today doesn’t mean it won’t 27F on Friday morning. The forecast is showing great temperatures this week, but if Canada sends a cold front down, our plants will feel it. My bones tell me the freezes are over, but I don’t trust them so here’s my advice.

  1. Watch your local weather forecasts daily to keep ahead of things.
  2. If you simply must buy tomato and pepper plants because you think all the good ones will be gone, go ahead and keep them in the house under lights or in a south-facing window. I use lights with an east facing window. My house is a log cabin so it’s dark.
  3. You may not get a great early spring garden if the temperatures warm up quickly. We’re in this chancy phase of spring where no one really knows what will happen. If we continue to have higher than normal temperatures, hold your beets, turnips, lettuce, spinach, etc. for a fall garden. I’ll tell you when to plant. That can be tricky too.
Wouldn't you like to swing on this tree swing for my daughter. I'll sneak in some swing time this afternoon.
Wouldn’t you like to swing on this tree swing for my daughter. I’ll sneak in some swing time this afternoon.

If you want to take chances, have row covers at the ready. I tested some last year when we had freeze after freeze in April and early May.

Try not to worry. Even if the garden freezes, it will be okay. By mid-May, everything will be blooming again. In meantime, remember to enjoy your garden for a few moments every single day. Life is too short to not enjoy every single Spring day.


  1. I started the seeds indoors later than usual this year. I just seemed too cold (outside) to do so at the normal time.

  2. Rock Rose says:

    These swings are the hardest part of being a gardener in the south. I know that even now we could be hit again with a frost and I don’t think I have the energy to deal with such a happening. How easy it was to garden in the north where you never grew anything that wasn’t super hardy and planting date was May 25th. I do, however, remember a May snowfall when all my fruit bushes were in flower. They survived and produced. I love the shot of your greenhouse and raised beds. Even in winter it must offer a pleasant hardscape view. A dusting of snow even better. Beautiful clumps of daffs. safely tucked away under the trees.

  3. So true. I’m in North Carolina and it’s gone from freezing and nasty to 85 degrees in a matter of days. My early tulips were late coming up, but now that it’s hot, they’ll promptly disappear. Last year was the only real spring I can remember here in 9 years – usually it goes directly from winter to summer.

  4. rusty duck says:

    Very envious of your Itoh!

  5. I’m with you on the Daffodils. They’re so much easier and reliable than Tulips because of the rabbit/deer situation. I’ve been watching the progress of migrating birds and insects on the Journey North site, and I’m noticing lots of activity in Oklahoma and Texas these days. It’s exciting to see the creatures slowly move north over the course of the spring. Your garden looks beautiful with the greenhouse, the garden plots, and the lovely Daffodils. We added a pop-up greenhouse this year that I’m planning to use as a sort of seed-starter, row cover/warm house on cold nights. We can have freezes all the way to Memorial Day, so this will help me to get a little headstart on some plants. Enjoy the spring days!

  6. It’s the moment in the year when I often realise I’ve been caught out and find I’ve already missed things I thought would never come. And yes – I’d love to swing on the swing!

  7. It’s like having you in my living room. Or me in your garden.
    I’ve got a peony up and tripled in size from last year. Basil, oregano, zinnias, running glories, and more reseeded in the herb garden. Snow peas up, radishes, spinach, strawberries & more out back. Still waiting on potatoes. Nervously happy the fruit trees & shrubs are budding out. But I’m waiting pall the warm weather treasures for sure!!
    Excellent post, as always. Love you Dee.

  8. We’re in the Texas Hill Country and have similar swings–84 degrees this afternoon–froze just a couple of weeks ago. I’m always second-guessing my pruning times and planting times.

    I’m with you in hoping we never see another 2011!

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Things are beginning to bud here too. The garden is awakening and switching to high gear.

  10. Jennie Brooks says:

    Well, I already planted pea, spinach, beet and carrot seeds and some are just starting to come up. Like you said, it won’t be the end of the world if they don’t make it. I had to try. I’ll throw a shower curtain over the bed if I need to.

  11. I, too, enjoyed the photos, views of your garden from a different angle than usual. I think there should be a swing in every garden. I’m still figuring out where to put one here.

  12. Linda belcher says:

    Wonderful how much of our gardening experience is connected to our souls. A friend here is a gardener with a greenhouse. He has taken plants in and out so many times. He assures me that over the next 15 the weather will be great for planting.

  13. I love these pics of the greenhouse, garden and swing…and yes I would be out there swinging every day. I use row covers every year here as our weather is unstable until late May…last year we had such a cold June I had to use them into June. Spring is just beginning slowly and we are barely hitting 40 which is a heat wave.

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