Welcome April

On the first Wednesday of every month, you can find us checking in with what’s coming up on the calendar. 

Well, Punxsutawney Phil was not joking this year! March never quite warmed up, did it? As I sat down to write this month’s welcome letter, I thought about how almost nothing has happened in our backyard, but that just means we have so much to look forward to in April!

The snowdrops and winter aconite that I mentioned last month timed their bloom to the first day of spring. Sarah reports that the forsythia and magnolias are blooming in North Carolina.  And we can feel the warmth moving north as our mom’s crocuses bloomed last week in Virginia, while mine started blooming just two days ago in PA. With everything off to a slow start, April will be bursting with flowers. I’m a big proponent of picking flowers and bringing the beauty inside. A vase of cherry blossoms, daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips creates the perfect early spring mix! And if we’re lucky, that will be followed by vases of lilacs and tree peonies.

This prolonged cold weather has slowed down our east coast phenology celebrations.  At the national Cherry Blossom Festival, they are predicting that the peak bloom will occur between April 8th-12th, on the later end when you look at historical records. Maple tapping has been off to a slow start this year, with some reports estimating that the cold spring has put collection about three weeks behind schedule, but it’s nothing to worry about if the necessary pattern warm days and cold nights develops soon.

Still on the subject of plants, are you getting excited for fresh veggies? In the continental US there are about 10 USDA hardiness zones. About in the middle is zone 6, and when you look at the map, it almost cuts through the middle of the US. April is the time for farmers and gardeners in zone 6 to transplant their root veggies and hardy greens outdoors (think kale, spinach, beets, carrots). Indoors they’ll sow the seeds for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

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Checking in on our favorite migrating birds, the Whooping Cranes made it to Wisconsin! The ruby throated hummingbirds have crossed the Gulf and have been sighted as far north as Virginia! Over the past week the Monarchs migrating from Mexico have entered Texas! Of course, there are so many other species that we haven’t even mentioned, like the piping plover, pictured below,  {Sarah here: someone (cough*Kate*cough) sure is excited about all this migration madness. I can feel you bouncing in your seat from over here!… Katie here: I realize that three exclamations in a row may be excessive, but wow!}

For other birds it’s the time of year to incubate their eggs and care for their hatchlings. Have you heard about the Pittsburg bald eagle nest? The first of its three eggs hatched, and the next two should hatch soon! The chicks will then grow at a steady clip throughout April. You can watch a live feed of the nest here. One of our favorite shorebirds, the piping plover has carved its nest out of the sand, and is currently incubating its clutch of four eggs. If you go to the shore at this time of year, you may see areas of beach fenced off protecting plover habitat because their eggs are so well camouflaged that they are often stepped on. Want more phenology updates? We’ve been sharing some on our twitter feed (@liveseasoned) as we come across them.

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And turning our attention to the sky, April’s Full Pink Moon occurs on the 15th, coinciding with a total lunar eclipse visible in North and South America and Australia. The eclipse will last for about one hour and twenty minutes, and during that time it will gradually get darker taking on a rusty to blood red color. The Lyrids meteor shower runs annually from April 16-25th, with the best viewing the evening of April 22nd. Have you ever watched a meteor shower? On a clear night grab a comfortable lawn chair and your sleeping bag and search out a viewing area away from bright lights. Eventually you’ll see a shooting star, then another, and if you’re lucky, you may see a steady stream of meteors for a few hours. Of course, this year light from the moon will make viewing a bit difficult, but don’t let that stop you from looking up.

As if the warm weather wasn’t reason enough, the end of this month is jam-packed with reasons to celebrate. Easter is on April 20th. We hope that your day is special and your easter basket is overflowing with all things spring. Earth Day is April 22nd, and as we like to say, give yo’ Earth mama some love. Go for a hike, recycle, start a butterfly garden.  If your weekdays don’t leave much time for getting out, watch an episode of BBC Life.  The last Friday of April, the 25th this year, is Arbor Day. Are you a member of the Arbor Day Foundation? Sign up and you get 10 free trees ~ enough for you and your friends to have a little tree-planting festival!

That’s April in a nutshell. What’s on your calendar?

 

 

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