This is what we all wait for, through the frosty mornings, the driving rains, the frozen birdbaths, the January false spring–real Spring. I think it’s here, though I don’t quite trust it, nor do the grape growers. April always fools us, and in our euphoria over wonderfully warm weather, we rush outside to plant flowers. Kaboom! comes a hard frost and our tiny plants are
knocked out by the cold or the new young buds on the grapevines are tinged with a touch of Ol’ Man Frost–that is, unless the vineyard manager paid attention to the weather report and ran the sprinklers all night. Or, we prune our perennials too early, and the frost burns away the new growth. But the Redbud has no such cares. It knows when to bud and bloom. A California native, Redbud hangs out along the creeks, up on the hillsides, and in local gardens. It lights up all the young new greens around it, grateful for the brilliance among them. Soon its heart-shaped leaves will emerge, pushing off the blooms, and it will stand unnoticed until fall when it sheds its leaves to expose the multitudes of flat brown pods that rattle in the winter winds. As if the brilliant Redbud’s magenta weren’t enough, yellow fields glow as far as
the eyes can see. The wild mustard’s in bloom, carpeting the fields, the hillocks, and rows between the grapevines. To farmers, it’s silage for their cows. To growers, it’s nitrogen when rototilled into the earth, and to us voyeurs, it’s eye-candy and a welcome sign of Spring in Sonoma County. In just a few weeks, planting time will truly be upon us. Roses will begin to pop with their amazing Spring flush; we will put new plants in the ground, hoping for another good rain or two, please, before our annual six months of drought sets in. Yes, it’s true–six months of on-and-off rain and six months of drought, just like in the Mediterranean area–and gardening twelve months a year. Really. There is always something to be done. Yes, even in December and January–’cause that’s when we begin pruning the roses and fruit trees. Backwards? No, just Sonoma County!