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In the Garden: A Faux Spring, Almost As Good As the Real Thing

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Like a false bride, the frilly blossoms of prunus mume “Bridal Veil,” can trick you into thinking that spring has really and truly arrived. But don’t be fooled–it’s a mid-winter bloomer.

I’m easily deluded.

Balmy air, blue skies, a soft, caressing breeze. Is it really the first of March?

Yesterday the garden burst into bloom. Suddenly there are sweeps of rose and butter yellow against the withered leaves and bare branches.

But these are treacherous times. Nothing is as it appears to be.

Prunus mume “Bridal Veil” is always the first to bloom. Even now its pale flowers are cascading along curved branches, a waterfall of frilly pink petals. So pretty, so deceptive. Like a false bride unmasked on her wedding night, the petals will wither in the next frost. Maybe even tomorrow.

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Yes, signs of spring are everywhere in the garden. I really want to believe that the blaze of golden forsythia around the mailbox heralds warm, sunny days. Farewell to goose-pimpled arms and legs?

Don’t count on it.

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In the woods, a lone daffodil has opened. It’s called February Gold. Not trustworthy at all, if you’re hoping for spring, even if it does shine like a beacon among the fallen leaves.

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Crocuses are popping up along the path to the meadow. Thomasina is impervious to the depredations of the bushy-tailed squirrels, still racing around,urgently digging up the hickory nuts they buried last fall. Too early for the spring buffet.

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The woods are full of hellebores heavy with bell-like blossoms….

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If you turn them up, you can see their cheerful, freckled, lying faces. Too harsh? It’s just that they would bloom now, even if the snow was swirling.

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The fragile blossoms of the autumn-flowering plum (yes, it blooms again…in spring) are creating fairytale patterns against the brick wall. I’d like to set a table for a tea party under its boughs. Sugared rose petals on a swirl of white frosting, violet-scented tea in my grandmother’s gold and white china…

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But just as I dare to imagine that warmer days might actually be here, dark clouds scud across the sky and the breeze turns cold. The bird’s nest high in the “Merrill” magnolia is empty. No one’s come to claim it yet. And the tree’s furry buds have barely opened, as if the fluttery blooms within know that a killing frost is on the way.

So I’ll just keep dreaming of spring. Whenever it arrives.

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