What Day Will It Be?

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)March 9, 2013

I'm sitting here trying to find something to read about hosta that shows others are feeling the quickening heartbeat of Spring. The Forum is for the first time since I got addicted to Hosta, not so active. Remember when the first TWO pages of the main page had new posts almost around the clock? And now we have a couple of month of posts with the last ones almost 2 months old?

Well, take heart! Yesterday the flock of robins returned from parts further south, headed your way. Last year they came Feb 9. This year they came March 7. Migrating north, from here in southern Alabama.

They feed on the wild cherry-sized berries of this particular camphor tree, for some reason CHOICE, and located just outside our garden fence on the neighbor's shady property. It took them about 90 minutes to strip the tree and move on, trekking north!

It's almost over, this winter which began deceptively mild, and changed mid-term to a wicked wicked storm machine. But enough. Get your tools and supplies ready. Time to get yourself ready for a really fine hosta growing and generally all-around sweet gardening year. See ya.

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Babka NorCal 9b

Stick around long enough Mocc, and you will note that this happens every year, after year, after year, after year, after year... Spring will come up North in a couple more months. Guess it takes a while for the robins to trek up there.

Are yours popping up and leafing out? Post pics. My early ones are still pointy pips poking up. (Some alliteration there) The majority of hosta folks are still in Winter's grip. That awful weather and frozen tundra gives them a long dormant time that results in really awesome BIG clumps of hosta in the ground, unlike our rather feeble attempts in pots.

One look at Ken's post about attending the convention reminded me of just how fantastic those hostas will be back where it is cold and miserable right now. It is tough to get excited about gardening when there is sleet and freezing rain, and snow.

Soon, soon...


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:20AM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

I have been driving these clowns around in my wagon for a couple of weeks getting my spring workout.Outside with the warmth back in the garage when cold. I think for me this will be the last cold spell. Why does winter play such havoc in the garden? So many chores. I have good eye counts popping back up and I am getting excited about the Divas coming back out. The next couple of weeks are so much fun. I have scapes on a couple of daylilies already. The birds will return just like the hosta folks. That is guaranteed. Have a great grow day. Paula

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:37AM
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MadPlanter1 zone 5

Well, the robins were here a couple weeks ago, right before we had 8 inches of snow, poor things. The southern exposure part of the garden has daffodils coming up, although the tips are brown with frost damage. The ground is a thin and treacherous layer of mud over frozen dirt. Yep, it's early spring in Nebraska.

We had seven deer in the yard last night, all looking for the first bits of edible greenery. I'm just as glad the hostas aren't up yet.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:03AM
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The robins here don't usually leave, they go to the deep woods in the winter. We see them occasionally when we go woods walking, and they come out in the spring. I've seen them in the yard since late January.


Here is a link that might be useful: do robins really migrate?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:25AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Moc-yesterday I was surprised to see maybe 40 robins in a single group. So many have already made the trip from
Alabama to northern Illinois.
They sure act squirrely when they migrate. What seemed so strange is that we finally have gotten snow-6" of heavy, wet, heavenly pure white snow. Now this morning it is 47 and pouring rain so it won't be here much longer.
I wasn't around much until last summer but don't you think the slow spring awakening of hostaholics has to do with our weather being much colder in general this spring than last?
I know your potted hostas are unfurling and looking very lovely. My meager collection is still dormant. If it is a sign of a better weather-year I am all for it. Last year s----d!
But I still am anxious about how my overwintering in pots has gone.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:26AM
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What is all this talk of spring!? :)

Here in the rural part of the Ottawa Valley, the rivers are still frozen over, the snow is almost knee deep BUT the maple sap has started to run!

Still experience says that the snow won't be gone till around April first and the rivers will break a few days later. The ground surface thaws by mid April and the first hosta pips appear by the end of that month.

Last frost will be about May 20 and I have not seen any hostas that minded the cold. They will be big and beautiful given the long dormancy, growing like crazy in the long hours of daylight here in the north.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:48AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

I didn't check your link about robins migrating but I have seen what certainly appears to be in northern Arkansas. I had a lot of eastern red cedar trees with the little purple berries. One early spring day I was alarmed by a number of robins flying into my window-glass. When I looked outside hundreds were actually crashing into my cedar trees. Within minutes every blue berry had been stripped from the trees. (I bet they'd pooped cedar seeds from Arkansas to Nebraska and points north. LOL) when the robins flew on. Sadly (:oI also love the peacefullness of walking through the woods, and discovering the gorgeous mtn. laurel, white dogwood and Cardinals, jack-n-the-pulpet, and funny looking Indian Pipes. I really miss that. And how can I forget the sound of a spring Tom's gobbling echoing eeriely through the woods. It's time to look for pips! :o)
I would see a few robins, all fluffy and cuddly looking to keep warm, but nothing like where hundreds could be hiding.
A BF once asked me to ask him how cold it was. When I did he said "it was so cold I saw a robin along the side of the road with a stone in it's beak striking it against another, then stomping on the sparks to keep it's feet warm. :o)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 8:51AM
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I think those robins are headed up here. They stripped my cherry tree last July so fast I almost missed it. I have a mountain ash with berries they like even better. The mountain ash is new, a replacement for one that died of old age. When we had that old one, it had so many berries the birds ate them all winter. I look forward to this tree being big and old some day.

Spring will come soon enough. I will have to prune, clean up, and dig the new beds I've planned. That is one problem with long cold winters, I have more planned than I can possible accomplish. I'll have to prioritize chores, like taking more pictures to use on my winter posts.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Love the lyrical descriptions of approaching spring. There is a heartbeat beneath the snow.

Remember "The Rose" ? The seed that with the sun's love.....becomes the Rose......

Well, one morning I'll turn on my computer and flip to Hosta Forum, and the entire first page will be current posts. Now THAT'S a sign of spring. I'll make note of the day..... like my brother did for his purple martins returning to their houses along his waterfront deck.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:17AM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

Well, Sandy, I did read the article in your link, and I knew for a long time that robins don't migrate, they congregate in groups in the winter deep in the woods, which is why we usually don't see them in our yards this time of the year. Then they come out when the weather begins to warm. I've had people tell me I'm crazy or just hearing things when I tell them I hear robins sometimes in the middle of winter because of their strong belief that they migrate south. I know what a robin sounds like, it's a very distinct sound. I've even seen them in January, high in the trees in the woods. Like the article says, people believe they migrate because they go into hiding in the winter, and emerge in flocks when the weather warms.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:08PM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Les reports two nice 'slot' Walleyes were caught in the open water below the Wilmington Dam this morning. I believe the slot is 16-24". Take heart MN.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Not an expert here, but it is debatable about robin migration. In some areas of the country, they might stay in the woods. Who knows what the factors are which lead them to stay....enough food supply? shelter? access to water?

But I provide another link below, one of several appearing if we google "robin migration 2013" and it is devoted to this topic.

Isn't it amazing that as much as we know about some things, we are still being surprised by Mother Nature?

Here is a link that might be useful: Robin migration 2013

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 1:16PM
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You're both right!
Here's a quote from the article that Moccasinlanding linked to:

"Robins are a migratory species, but their migration is far more complicated than simply a shift southward. There seems to be a great deal of individual variation in where they spend the winter, though males are far more likely to remain in the north than females. There are good reasons. Come spring, the maleâÂÂs main job is to find and defend a territory. The femalesâ main job is to create and lay the eggs. This requires a lot of good nutrition and food energy, so females go where they are sure of good food supplies in winter. Yes, they have to use up food energy to migrate north. But migrating and laying eggs are easier for well-nourished birds."


Here is a link that might be useful: winterizing robins

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 5:26PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Tons of Robins have returned from the south here,so spring can't be far behind! Phil

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:28PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

The Cedar Waxwings are here today stripping the Cherry Laurel. They'll poop purple all over everything. I haven't noticed any robins in the last couple of days.

Early spring has sprung here. The flowering quince is in it's second week. The old short irises are in full bloom everywhere. The white one, we call cemetery iris. I have no idea what they call the yellow one, but they bloom a little before the cemetery iris.

We had some really nice balmy February days. The hosta started peeking up with a few pips. Then it got cool again, so we're kind of stalled out on hosta growth. Only So Sweet is in full gear.

This year is going to be a challenge. The darling demon doglet dumped out all the young hosta late last summer. Then, she commenced to "kill" them by shaking and throwing them. Some survived. Now the problem is going to be telling the difference between Blue Cadet and Blue Mouse Ears. Of course, they were all young plants, so it's likely that they will revert to juvenile leaves. Not only that, she developed a fondness for plant tags, which I find all over the yard and occasionally, in the house. I'm hoping I can ID them when they come up.

Below are the hosta shots from today. I'm like Babka, lots of pointy pips, too.


Unknown - Cleo stole the tag

So Sweet 1, my favorite hosta

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:38PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

Speaking of robins, I saw a couple of them flying around on my walk today. Heard cranes, too.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Regarding migrating or non- robins, Canada Geese are similar. They definitely migrate. But-some never seem to move. I see at least a few along the Kankakee River and local sloughs all year long. But right now 'a few' is a misjustice to them.
Three days ago in 10 minutes as I sat on the river bank I'd stopped counting at over 150 came from the fields where they were feeding and lit on the ground less than 100 yards from my truck. Within eyesite, and ear, there had to be a thousand Canada Geese. Soon most will be gone to better nesting grounds, whether local or further north.
I have no doubt that Robins behave the same.

With the drought last year drying up the sloughs and retention ponds more Mallard ducks nested along the KKK River and the families are still there. A friend hunts a lot and has complained there are no Mallards this year. They, Robins and Canada Geese all migrate where to where the best opportunity to survive and multiply exists. In a few months, as the hundreds I see every day seek nesting sites, most will move on but their parents will likely remain and not migrate.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:27AM
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Gives me an idea of how COLD Canada is when hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Canadian Geese come here to Colorado for the winter. We also have a small year-round population here too.

Don B.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:37AM
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About the Robins...Apparently in the late 80's-early 90's, the landscaping company that was contracted to landscape the newly-built homes that would later become my neighborhood, used a very large type of ornamental bush that produces heavy yields of small red berries; I see this bush planted everywhere (except my house) on and around my street. In fact, I see it all over Jefferson County, Colorado. These bushes are evergreen and fruit is in bountiful supply in the winter, it seems. Therefore, I see Robins all throughout the winter here, certainly not in full force, but still, I've seen quite a few at a time feast on these berries in the cold in January and February...... Anyway, just my observations here in Colorado.

Don B.

This post was edited by Don_in_Colorado on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 4:00

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:58AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

yeah! One of my potted hostas has pips.
When does one begin to tip up the pots where they will get rain and should I have them off of the ground now?

I just checked the 8-day forcast on the WC website and it is supposed to be normal with lows around 27 oF and his around 45 +/- a few oF.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:46AM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

I saw bluebirds today! That has to be a sign spring will be here soon, isn't it? Actually, I hope winter holds out for a while longer. I have many reasons for wanting it to. Spring is going to be busy for me and I'm not ready for it yet.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 7:16PM
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bernd ny zone5

I had seen a flock of robins a year ago in February in a tree at a restaurant. Some ducks and geese were on the ice over winter here, one heron was looking for food. So some stay and some fly south.
My witch hazels are in bloom for at least a week, one is yellow, one is red.

We definitely have spring here in zone 5 because within a week Home Depot has stocked their gardening supplies of fertilizers, mulches and chemicals. Inside they are selling plants, like 3 hosta 'Big Daddy' for $ 6.

Here is no more snow, yesterday I raked the lawn at the street, removed debris. On April 1 the town will start to weekly pick up yard waste, I am getting ready for that.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 9:21AM
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3 'Big Daddy' for 6 bucks? Hey, that ain't bad. I just picked up 2 hosta 'Twilight' (bare root in bag) for 6 bucks. 3 Tennessee Ostrich Ferns for 6 bucks, too. This was at Lowe's. 70 degrees today. It's in the high 50's right now at 12:54 A.M. Mountain Time. Love it.

Don B.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 2:58AM
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bernd ny zone5

Those $6 bare-root hostas probably come from fields in the Netherlands in which growers did not prevent HVX very well in the past, that's what we were told here on this forum, so be careful. I buy my hostas from good US nurseries. On the other hand, there are very good nurseries in the Netherlands, like Franzen. Bernd

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Thanks for the warning, Bernd. Actually I've read the same thing, and I'm planning on keeping these certain varieties in pots this season, away from my established ones. If they stay clean-looking this season, I'll test em if I ever plan on siting them anywhere near my 'good' Hosta.

Many Thanks,
Don B.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Yes, Don, the HVX test kit is a real good way to find out quickly. Nice thing I was advised to put pieces of all the hosta in question into a mush together (combined it is the size of a quarter), and only use ONE test strip. If one was bad, the entire group would have been destroyed. Thankfully, they were all clean and I could relax and enjoy my only three hosta planted in the ground....so far.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:36AM
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BK, when your "Darling Demon Doglet" matures, you will sigh and regret the days when she was standing there, one ear up, one ear down, delighted to help you dig in the pots and prune your hosta.

We'll have to trade doggie stories one day. My doxie pup loves to chew leaves of potted plants, just hasn't been here while the hosta were growing. If I'm quick enough, I'll catch her and post a picture.

Also speaking of spring, the sapsuckers and woodpeckers are enjoying the sap of the sasanquas (member of the camellia family) and also bringing little bugs to the feast.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:01PM
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