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Spring is Coming

There are signs, despite the weather pattern, that spring will indeed arrive this year.

More and more spring bulbs are showing up with flower stalks well above the soil line waiting for a bit better weather to bloom. There is even an up-side to our temperatures. If it remains cooler, those spring blooms will last longer in the home landscape once they open.

Red and silver maples have been shedding the bud scales. There is clearly a red coloration appearing from the emerging tiny flowers. The change of silver maples is not as bright, more of a light green, yet clearly those flower buds have been swelling.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood can be seed in neighborhoods about to give us a yellow bloom show and later that great shiny red berry. It has been spotty, but Forsythia have begun to bloom in the more protected areas. We did not have winter temperatures that would have damaged or killed the buds. There are many different varieties of Forsythia, so if you have one in the landscape and there is no bloom show yet, just hang on.

Despite the weather, signs of life are there in the perennial beds too. You can begin to see the crowns of your favorite plants, but also not-so-favorite plants, like perennial broadleaved weeds and grasses. Rosettes of dandelions are there, as is quackgrass.

While we wait for other spring flowering shrubs to show signs of life, it is a great time to look at them and do any pruning to remove any already-dead stems. Right now, the best example in many landscapes would be red twig dogwood. There is very likely some dead branches to remove. Good tissue has that nice red color, while the bad branches are a light to dark tan, eventually turning black. By removing the dead wood at the crown, you will be encouraging new shoots from there as well.

Soil temperatures have remained cold, so lawns may have not come alive yet. We have seen that brighter green on protected portions where temperatures are warmer. Data from Illinois Climate Network for the area for April 19 revealed just how cold the maximum soil temperatures are:

· On bare soil, 2 inches below the surface – 36.70 F

· At 4 inches below the surface on bare ground – 34.20 F

· Bare ground should be warmer than ground temperatures farther down, yet temperatures at 8 inches below the surface are warmer right now.

While we continue to wait for true spring weather, enjoy walking the yard and looking for those incremental signs that spring is coming, even if it is at glacial speeds this year.

Richard Hentschel is a Horticulture Extension Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. Stay tuned to more garden and yard updates with This Week in the Garden videos at and the Green Side Up podcast at The Kendall County Master Gardener Help Desk is open for 2018. Current hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 630-553-5823.