With the winter we’ve had here in the northeastern US, flipping the calendar to April brings a sigh of relief.  Yes, we could still get a bit of snow, and the temperatures can vary hugely from day to day, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  When the sun shines, its beams shine stronger and longer.  There are increasingly more days when we can throw our doors and windows open to breezes and birdsong.  On days like today, when the temperature hit sixty (16 C), the sidewalks are crowded with mothers pushing strollers and teenagers skateboarding around them.  Coats are left hanging, and people smile more.

Seeds optimistically planted weeks ago under lights in basements and back rooms sprout and grow, and outgrow their original homes.017Yesterday I spent some time transplanting small plugs of tomatoes and peppers into slightly larger pots:011This flat holds ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’ tomatoes, Jalapeno peppers, two varieties of sweet Bell pepper, and just three plugs of Gomphrena ‘Las Vegas Purple.’  I successfully started fifteen plugs, in the dark, on top of the furnace, but Gomphrena, it seems, is VERY susceptible to damping off.  Even with a heat mat, I just couldn’t keep these babies warm enough once I moved them to the light table.

Blooming houseplants continue to fill the void and help keep my gardener’s thumbs from getting too twitchy.  Is this Hippeastrum Amaryllis ‘Elvas’ about to bloom again, or has Audrey II come back to haunt us?  033I just forgot that Amaryllis ‘Picotee’ had put out a bloom stalk, and I didn’t give it enough water.  It looks like it will bloom, but weakly:038I can’t help but think that this bud would be much fatter if I had brought it upstairs and started watering it regularly two or three weeks ago!

My Christmas cactus is putting on a nice Easter show next to the African violets:034

I think the orchids will bloom before April ends.  Their buds are SLOWLY plumping: 043Two weeks ago, I bravely traversed snowbanks and gathered a big bouquet of branches for Cathy’s weekly In a Vase on Monday party.  Only a few pussy willow catkins were open at that time, and it was a rather stark, if not bleak, arrangement:090Today it is filled with the promises of spring.  The Forsythia buds have opened, the catkins burst out of their shells, and tiny leaves are unfurling:047052056058Palm branches from last Sunday’s church service seemed an appropriate addition to this bouquet of emerging re-birth:063Welcome, April.  Welcome, Spring.  Welcome, New Life!060