Here in the Chicagoland area sometimes we only get a taste of spring and BOOM, hot summer is here. This year spring is sticking around according to schedule. The ground is slowly warming up for this upcoming growing season. But the air is still cool, perfect for planting cool weather crops like lettuce and spinach.

Cold temperatures at night with light jacket days and consistent rain showers seem to be springs agenda for 2017. Not the down pours associated with storms, but the patient rain shower that greens up our landscape and brightens up our spring.  The good part is that we have a legitimate spring. Today is May 10 and trees and shrubs are showing off their new bright green foliage. Birds are nesting and cicadas are making their way up from the ground to fill the upcoming season with their summer music.

Helebore ‘ Lenten Rose” a March bloomer.

Early March brought snow and robins,then a phenomenal warm up. The thermometer hit 81 degrees on March 24th  and the following day dropped down to a high of 40 degrees. This of course stirred up a lot of business for Garden Gems, many clients wanting their annual spring cleaning and cut backs. I obliged carefully explaining that Old man Winter and his rascally friend Jack Frost were still in our area and may stick around for awhile. I was right, it’s the second week of May and these two are still hanging around to many gripes and groans.

Bloodroot another early bloomer

April brought the opening of baseball season, go White Sox, and typical unpredictable weather.  A handful of days mid month brought pleasant 70 degree weather, followed by cold rain showers with an occasional thunder storm. Again, a good consistent rain that exemplifies spring. Flood warnings were issued throughout our area filling up creeks, rivers, backyards and rain barrels with “free water”, as my friend Anne Clark calls it.

So spring has sprung and the sun is noticeably closer to the earth.

Eastern Redbud

Around the neighborhood the Magnolia blooms were short lived, disappointing.

In my Garden Gems oasis, last spring I planted a small Cercis canadensis ‘Eastern redbud’ and I was delighted with my first blossoms.

The Service berry blossoms held for one day, so I didn’t get to snap a photo.

Judd Vibernum
Judd Vibernum

Another new shrub to my garden is Vibernum x juddii or ‘Judd viburnum. It’s actually pronounced jud-ee-i. My best friend’s name is Judy and it reminded me of her name. Beautiful blooms that start pink and then fade to white. They lasted a good week and brought pure spring to our backyard.  I’m looking forward to watching these “Judy” plants mature.


Wearing layers and added rain gear my personal gardening business once again picked up, as the ever faithful sun continues to warm up the soil and our spirits. This is a good time to transplant hardy trees and shrubs, I’d wait until after May 22nd to plant any tender annuals or warm weather vegetables. I understand the last frost prediction in our area, Zone 5, is May 15. But Old Man Winter and his partner in crime Jack Frost are still hanging around and enjoy nighttime frost games. Play it safe and wait to plant. These two guys are jokers.

A few more pictures of what is blooming at Garden Gems:

Jesse Blue growing in the garden
Brunnera macrophylla



Pulmonaria “Lungwort”