Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Prelude to Spring?

February 2 was Groundhog Day. According to legend, if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

According to the National Post Newspaper:
"The country’s (Canada's) first two furry forecasters have brought good news to winter-weary Canadians on Groundhog Day: Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Ontario’s Wiarton Willie both failed to see their shadows Thursday morning." 
That means, according to tradition, an early spring is on its way.

No groundhogs here, so I went to check on the locals: first there was Jack (Rabbit), no shadow, and then some of his friends, still no shadows, and then Blackie (Squirrel) and definitely no shadow. So maybe it's true.

Groundhog Day began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. It origins are from old European weather lore, where a badger or a sacred bear was used as a weather predictor rather than a ground hog. The groundhog tradition is connected to similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day (February 2) and  early Christians in Europe; for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people marking a milestone in the winter and using the weather on February 2 as a sign of what was to come.

An English poem:
"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again." 
I have seen some early blooms, are these a prelude to Spring or just a cruel tease?

First there is Witch Hazel's bright and dazzling blooms. Witch Hazel blooms through the Winter and into the Spring. Did you know that an extract of the bark and leaves has medicinal uses such as treating bruises, scrapes and insect bites?

Witch Hazel Blooms

Snowdrops are among the earliest flowers of spring, sometimes they bloom through the melting snow. The snowdrop comes from a small bulb that when established multiplies each year; I have thousands in my garden as a result, in flower borders and coming up through the grass. They are an elegant and welcome sight in early spring.

Hardy Heathers bloom through the winter and early spring, I have seen a range of colours from white and yellow to pink and purple.

Another early bloom is this Veronica, a low growing plant with tiny bluish flowers.

These are blooms of the Viburnum (bodnantense) tree and after seeing a number of them on my walks recently and I asked a Parks Board employee the name. They are in clusters of bell or trumpet shaped flowers and have a beautiful sweet scent.

I saw two different varieties of Oregon Grape, the first one a tree, the second a bush.

Here is a beautiful Hellebore (from my neighbors' lovely garden), this is a hardy flower that blooms through the winter and spring. It has beautiful five petalled flowers as you will see in these next photographs.

This Rose bud seemed to be as shocked by the weather as I was to see it starting to bloom.

The truth is most or all of these flowers usually start to bloom in the winter, so none are proof that we will have an early Spring. The last few pictures are of buds on plants or trees that should start to flower soon. A Camellia, a Magnolia, a Pussy Willow and lastly a Clematis.

Camellia bud
Magnolia bud (above and below)

Pussy willow (the one in the middle is just starting to emerge)

Clematis bud (above and below)

Clematis bud starting to open

I have been working on more colourful spring flowers this week.

Here are a couple of things I have been working on this week. I have been experimenting with pouring backgrounds and negative painting technique. Both pictures are watercolours, the first titled Snowdrops (for now) is an experiment with negative painting, or painting the space around the image (the positive space) rather than painting the image per se. I am fairly happy with this one but not happy with the way it scanned, you will no doubt notice the darker bar across the top. I will rescan it after I remember to sign it.
This picture is a poured background and painted foreground of Crocuses. I am not happy with the composition and I am working on another.

Well not Groundhog but will Hound dog do? Here's Elvis Presley with "Hound Dog".

I appreciate you taking the time to drop by my blog. Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week..........