Looking for normal after a wacky ride through March

By Janine Pineo,
Posted March 30, 2012, at 10:17 p.m.

Dazed and confused.

It has been my perpetual state this month.

The natural world agrees. The snow crocuses were in bloom on the first day of spring. The buds on the red maples have swollen up like it’s May. Little leaves have emerged on the St. John’s wort. And the catkins on the popples have been flapping like streamers in this week’s wind.

Wild weather usually means I stay indoors when possible and keep my head down when outside, but last week as temperatures hit the low 80s, I spent it driving with all the car windows down, drinking enough iced tea to float a boat and trudging in my shirtsleeves daily through snow and ice to walk the panting dog. He got to roll in that woodland snow and ice; I in my winter boots did not.

I even had to correct myself a few times when I started to write July as the date last week. Obviously, my grasp on reality was in a tizzy.

As this week literally blew in, I wondered how many other places on the planet could say it was in the 80s one day and below zero with wind chill less than a week later.

What this portends for the growing season is the big question. Plants emerging from dormancy too early could get zapped by the cold and taken out with snowfall. Or it could be as dry as the Sahara. Or it could be a normal year. Or, or, or.

It was with some relief I welcomed back the colder temperatures, if only to convince myself that it was barely the first of spring on the calendar.

Next weekend will help settle me down when Bangor’s Garden Show opens for the weekend at 10 a.m. Friday. April 6, at the Bangor Auditorium. For a mere $5, one will be transported to how it should be this time of year in Maine, with plants blooming indoors and vendors so very nicely hawking their wares amongst the displays.

It is always a treat to smell the first lilacs or roses or daffodils in the displays, marveling at what it must take to force those plants into perfect bloom for the show. My hat is off to those dedicated souls who calculate and cajole to achieve those blessed sights and smells.

All weekend, there will be talks as part of the Demonstration Series. Everything from pest management to bees to mushrooms to rain barrels will be topics for discussion. One of the presenters is someone I finally met in person late last week after last month featuring her, her nearly published book and her Kickstarter challenge in my column.

I arrived at Lisa Colburn’s Orono home and knew I was there by the Johnny’s Selected Seeds box sitting on the doorstep. I carried it in for her — the least I could do — and we sat down to chat about her making her goal of $10,000 by March 14 to help defray some of the cost of publishing her book, “The Maine Garden Journal: Insider Secrets from Maine People Who Love to Put Their Hands in the Dirt.”

The book is the compilation of surveys she started to collect in 2009 from gardeners around the state who had plenty to say about plants, pests and all things gardening in Maine. Combine that with splendid plant photography and you have an informative and fun read.

When asked when the book would be available to purchase, Lisa said that it would be printed the first couple of days of April so she can take it to the Bangor show where she will be a vendor. And at 2 p.m. next Saturday, at the garden show, she will present highlights from the book with a book signing after the talk.

We had a lively conversation, typical when one gardener is in the vicinity of another, as I marveled at her extensive houseplant collection and we thumbed through the draft copy of the book. We traded tips about chlorine in water and whether the other knew about a particular greenhouse.

I asked about her background and discovered she went to school to study biology and botany, but left to raise her son. Then there was a stint as a social worker. Then came the craft store that morphed into a stained-glass window business (one church in Aroostook County has 36 windows she made).

But through it all was her “constant,” the one thing she never was without.

Gardening.

Even when we are dazed and confused, there’s always sanctuary in the garden.

For more

For information on Bangor’s Garden Show, visit bangorgardenshow.com for a full list of displays, vendors and presentations on April 6-8.

If you can’t make the Bangor show to meet Lisa Colburn, she will be at Lewiston High School on Saturday, April 14, for Maine Garden Day, where she will have book sales and signing. At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, she will give a presentation to the Penobscot County Retired Teachers that also will be followed by book sales and signing. Visit mainegardenjournal.com for more.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/30/living/looking-for-normal-after-a-wacky-ride-through-march/ printed on August 2, 2014