Written by Panorama resident, Judy Murphy. March 2015
Spring came early to the Pacific Northwest this year, even as the East Coast stayed buried under snow (my son lives in Boston, poor guy). Compared to last year, plants have been blooming 3-4 weeks earlier this spring. So here we are, almost April 1, and trees are leafing out, rhododendrons and azaleas are blooming, trillium are popping out and magnolias are in brilliant blossom all over Panorama, yet early spring hellebores and camellias are hanging on as well. The pieris japonica is shooting up deep pink leaves, the fruiting cherry in front of our house is blooming, and the fiddleheads on the ferns are unfurling their new fronds. Every year it’s a race to see if the lilies-of-the-valley will bloom by May 1, so a bouquet can be gathered for a lover on May Day, according to some traditions. Inevitably they make their deadline, no matter the weather. Well, this year it won’t be much of a contest since the green stalks are well under way and the blossoms won’t be far behind.
The birds are bustling, too. The pines and firs around my house are exploding with bird songs and calls, but most of the time the birds are too high in the trees to see. Sparrows, Robins, Chickadees, Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Juncos and Towhees are the common suspects. I see them mostly when they come to the birdbath, and this morning a lone Steller’s Jay was visible among the branches. Occasionally I still hear the two-toned whistle of the Varied Thrush and the call of the Northern Flicker.
Most exciting, last night we heard Great Horned Owls hooting near the intersection of Sleater Kinney and 21st. Their deep hoots have reverberated sporadically in the early evening for some months around our neighborhood.
This morning’s treat was watching a tiny kinglet gathering bits of our dog’s fur from under the azalea out front, leftovers from a bygone grooming. Nest building 101 is in session. No camera on hand, of course!
I am awaiting the blooming of my red perennials—fuchsia, monkey flower, bee balm, salvia—to lure the hummingbirds back to regular feeding, though they have been scouting around all winter looking for easy food at feeders, which I do not have.
Early spring has meant that gardeners are eager to plant flowers and vegetables at the Panorama Pea Patch. It is always a wonderful time of year, as the brown and empty Pea Patch, looking bedraggled and forlorn, springs to life with fruit trees blossoming, raspberry and blueberry bushes leafing out and bees buzzing around to check out available nectar.
Speaking of bees, like so many others who have beehives, the Pea Patch lost several hives again this past year. We’re clinging to the hope that as we improve our gardening practices by eliminating pesticides and as we plant more bee-friendly flowers and herbs, our bee populations will increase.
It’s not too early to go out on the Chehalis-Western trail or to check out the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to look for migrating songbirds. Now is the time to step outside and revel in our beautiful surroundings. Who could ask for more?