Early bulbs come into bloom
Species crocus, the first crocus to appear in spring.

Early bulbs come into bloom

Another sure sign of spring in the garden

BRATTLEBORO — It has sure been a long, cold winter here in the Northeast. It has seemed as if the snow would never end. The snow piles have been shrinking day by day here, and I even have a few brave snowdrops blooming.

As the snow goes, I sometimes help nature along by shoveling off some of the large piles from the shade and putting them where the snow has already melted in the sun. After all, snow is known as “the poor man's fertilizer.”

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We can look forward to some early bulbs blooming fairly soon after the snow goes. One of my favorites is Iris reticulata, which comes in a variety of shades; the bright cobalt blue is my favorite. These sturdy little iris are best planted in clumps in the fall, and will reward you with lovely, spreading clusters of early bloom.

Another early favorite is the species crocus group. Again, they come in many colors; you can go with a mix or single colors. They, like most bulbs, look best in a cluster to give the best show. You will find that they are easier to plant that way, too.

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It's a good idea to give your yard a cleanup as soon as the snow is gone and the ground is not soggy. (You don't want to damage tender roots.)

If you clean up before the bulbs are up, you won't risk breaking the tender new flowers and leaves. But if you don't get to cleanup soon enough, it's best to wait until the bloom has finished on the early bulbs and rake over them afterwards.

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