Spring almost here, but not quite

Daffodils prepare to bloom in a Genoa garden on Monday.

Daffodils prepare to bloom in a Genoa garden on Monday.

This is the time of year where I look forward to the trees budding out with light green growth, daffodils and other bulbs blooming and fruit trees bursting with flowers. Lawns will be greening up and winter will be behind us.

At this point, the challenges that gardening and landscaping present are not in my consciousness. Instead, I live in that gardener’s fantasy world where everything grows beautifully: it rains exactly the right amount and there are no weeds, insect or animal pests.

I hoped we might get a break this year from the yearly vole damage to the lawn, since there was so little snow for them to hide under. Last year in late March I wrote about finding runways all over the lawn after the two feet of snow melted.

This year I removed all the vinca vines next to the house and raked all the leaves away thinking that would eliminate their cover. But even with the thin snow cover, that didn’t do the trick. They still tunneled long distances across the lawn.

The grass is dead over all the runways and once again, the lawn will have multiple bare patches. I don’t think the lawn ever fully recuperated last year. The voles are a reminder that gardening is an activity that requires not only constant vigilance for it to be successful, but lots of maintenance and care.

However, I refuse to let the voles dampen my joyful spring-expectant spirit. I will not contemplate armyworms or hornworms on the tomatoes, aphids on the ash trees and roses, bears digging for larvae in my flower beds, ground squirrels eating apples or yellowjackets driving us indoors.

I will not dwell on drought, weeds, wind, heat, or any other force of nature beating down my plants. I won’t think about the hours of irrigating, fertilizing, mowing, or pruning it will take to maintain some semblance of aesthetic appeal.

Instead, I will visualize the fresh color of new leaves and grass. I will remember how the warm yellows of daffodils and forsythia lighten my heart. I will look forward to apple and crabapple blossoms colored in white and magenta.

And, while I wait for the lushness of spring, I will appreciate the downy woodpeckers, chickadees, brown creepers, quail, evening grosbeaks, the Cooper and red-tailed hawks and even the red-naped woodpeckers and gray squirrels. Spring is coming. The buds are swelling a bit, aren’t they?

For management strategies for voles see UC Davis IPM: https://ipm.ucanr.edu/home-and-landscape/voles/pest-notes/?src=302-www&fr=3789.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email skellyj@unr.edu.


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