Monday, 7 April 2014

Signs of Spring

Since I've been complaining about winter, I want to tell you that spring is coming, well at least in my hallway. You can see my fig tree has leaves and several figs, it is responding to the longer days.

I work hard to keep my small 1.5 metre high fig tree happy. It is in a big heavy pot, which we drag inside and down the stairs every autumn so it can stay cold and relatively dark on the staircase landing. It is an ugly plant without leaves and it is awkward to get around, but with no basement we don't have a choice. This weekend it began to show signs of life so now we hauled  it back up the stairs and put it outside during the days so that its leaves develop and strengthen. This week it looks like the temperature will just about make the double digits, but the evenings will still be cool, perhaps even below 0C. So we may be dragging it back into the kitchen at night. This is just the first of many trials, late in the summer it will be the battle with squirrels.

Why do I bother? My tree rewards all this work by producing a large number of figs for its size. Last year there were about 30. I was discussing my fig tree with my mum and she asked me what kind of flowers it had. It doesn't have flowers, I replied, well how does it have fruit she asked. A good question, and one I'd never considered. Just how figs reproduce is fascinating, here is an explanation.  Luckily in North American most fig trees are self-pollinating so I don't have to rely on wasps. The embryonic figs that are beginning to swell on my tree were formed at the end of last summer. 

I do like this marking of the seasons. Growing up in Australia it was summer, then not summer,  while spring and autumn didn't amount to much. I first arrived in Canada in late September, the weather was glorious, warm sunny days, cool nights and spectacular colours on the trees. I left in December and didn't return until late April, needless to say my first winter was a shock. As much as I hate winter it does make you appreciate spring. My small yard is slowly springing to life too,  the chives are turning green, the gooseberry is beginning to bud and I am eagerly awaiting the first signs of the sorrel. My only quibble - I just wish spring arrived in February.

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