Meadowlark: Spring Beckons: Come Volunteer!

By Jennifer Naughton, Fairfax Master Gardener

Hellebores and daffodils

Hellebores and Daffodils

As my husband drives our family from Virginia to Florida on our annual spring break, I am mesmerized by the scene outside my car window. Despite the cramped quarters of a car overpacked with beach gear and growing kids’ outstretched legs on the center console, the ride is a delight. There is an ever-changing explosion of spring outside. It’s the reason I refuse to fly, although it would allow us a full extra day at the beach. The panorama south down Interstate 95 is a miniature time lapse of this season’s unfolding: grasses green and trees flower then leaf, fill out, shimmer and glow with new vitality. There are bursts of color. Robert Frost writes, “Nature’s first green is gold” but pink is the initial blur of warmth, as the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) spreads her “early leaf a flower.” Nearer the border of South Carolina, oranges, yellows and bright greens dot the landscape. I see expectant vivid Redbuds (Cercis) and even a patch of early Wisteria.

Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus elwesii

Unlike most vacation goers, I look forward to returning to work after this trip is finished for the in-depth study of spring it affords. My job as a part-time seasonal gardener at Meadowlark Botanical Garden is more privilege than chore. It allows me intimacy with the earth, a close listening to the heartbeat of each season. These early weeks in March at Meadowlark brought a preview of what’s to come: Hellebores (Helleborus) and Daffodils (Narcissus) bright during grey, cold days; Witch Hazel’s (Hamamelis ‘Diane’) golden r