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Welcome, spring!

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Courtesy of Doreen Howard

(Read caption) A welcome sign that spring and warmer weather are on their way is seeing groups of cheerful crocus pop up.

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Last week, there was a foot of slushy snow on the ground. Today, as I cleaned out the front flower bed, trimmed roses and admired the daffodil and woodland hyacinth sprouts, I spotted crocus blooming in the middle of the lawn.

Black and iridescent green Diptera or two-winged flies, which feed on rotting matter were around the flowers chewing up turf decayed during the long winter.

Male redwing blackbirds have returned, too. I’ve seen a dozen males in the area, each already staking out its territory. The males return north a couple weeks ahead of the females so that they have land and a house (nest) built to attract the most desirable of the ladies.

Tulips are pushing out of the shredded leaves and compost mulch, too. I can hardly wait until Zoomerschoon, a cream and strawberry flame tulip purchased from Old House Heirloom Bulbs, blooms.[See Photo No. 3, above, and also photo at left.]

This antique – first found in 1620 – is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of the streaked tulips of Tulipmania. They carried a virus in their genes that ''broke'' colors in breathtaking patterns.

Spring is really here! Living in frigid USDA plant-hardiness Zone 4b, along the Wisconsin-Illinois border, I’ve become used to late springs and a persisting snow pack into April in most years. So this is a treat.

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