The daffodils in my yard are telling me all about the warm winter we've had. Not only are they up - they are in bloom. I took this picture last week and am only getting around to posting it today, but even if these daffodils were just now blooming, it would be early.
This particular variety, which has been in my yard for at least a couple of decades, usually blooms sometime in February, often nearer the middle of the month.
In 2010, my Feb. 1 blog post titled "Daffodils don't lie" included a photo of daffodils emerging from the soil, but the plants were still short and the buds tightly furled. That year, the daffodils were telling about a winter that was somewhat cooler than this 2011-12 winter.
The garlic is looking especially healthy, too. I don't think I've ever seen it looking this robust in my yard at the end of January.
I have been following the cycle of bloom for flowers in my yard over the past year more closely than in previous years, partly to determine its usefulness as a tool to tell me about the timing of planting. Using the cycle of bloom as a planting or chore calendar is a common old-timey method of scheduling such chores (example: prune roses when the forsythia bloom).
My longtime planting rule that follows the blooming of a particular flower in my yard is that I plant my English peas when the trout lilies bloom in my yard, and that has ended up being in or near the last week in February.
Those flowers seem to have a firmer internal calendar than the daffodils; their leaves are not yet up, but the leaves of the toothwort are. Although I am sure that they are not paying attention to the crazy daffodils, the toothwort may be responding to soil temperature in a similar way.
Last week, I decided to indulge in a little daffodil-craziness of my own by planting a patch of peas almost a full month sooner than normal. If we have a hard freeze and I lose my little crop, I have plenty of time to replant, but I want to know if I can rely on what else the daffodils are saying - that spring is just around the corner.
I suppose I could have waited a few days to find out what the groundhogs have to say about the coming of spring, or waited for the trout lilies as I have done for years, but, like many gardeners, I'm a little impatient. And - if I get peas earlier than usual, the hour spent outside in the garden planting those peas will have paid off even more than as just the hour of exercise that I'm currently counting it as.