Folk Wisdom & Applied Phenology

I am cutting and pasting this from the White Flower Farm (Litchfield, CT) newsletter because since I read it, I have been fascinated with the topic.   I have yet to find a good book on the subject, so if you know any, please pass it along.

“Paying attention to the first signs of spring in your area can be useful in determining when to plant. A whole branch of science, called phenology, now documents the seasonal cycle of buds and blooms, bird migration, and insect hatch.

phenology associations compost grass and prune roses when the forsythia blooms

Here’s more folk wisdom (essentially applied phenology) based on generations of observations:

  • When Forsythia blooms, it’s time to prune Roses, fertilize the lawn, and remove about 1/3 of the layer of winter protection you applied in fall around perennials (remove another 1/3 the following week and the rest the week after that).
  • When Dandelions start blooming and Lilac leaves appear, it’s time to plant cool-season crops such as beets, lettuce, and carrots.
  • When Shadbush (Amelanchier) blooms, plant your potatoes (and for those who fish, this is the time shad are running in the Connecticut River).

when oak leaves squirrels ears corn

  • Plant Corn when Oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear.
  • When Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria) is in full bloom, it’s time to plant Tomatoes.
  • plant peas when daffodils bloom

  • And when your Daffodils are blooming, it is time to plant Peas.

Fascinating right?  I really want more…..have you got any folk wisdom or practical phenology to share?

Also — because I am a person who remembers thing far better if I can visualize it, I created a pin board with a bunch of images that correlate to these associations.  I did it over at Pinterest.  Do you know about Pinterest?  It is a great site where you can manage images that you find around the internet.  I am finding it to be more and more useful as I keep thinking of new ways to organize my thoughts.   It’s easy to sign up and if you want, I would be more that happy for you to follow my boards (which are about all sorts of silly things) to get yourself started.

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Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. p bargar on April 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    yep. there are books, maybe not AWESOME- more ho-hum style. T Jefferson was one of the first in this country to start phenology documentation. Europe has a longer history of it. It was a bit of a fad after the Civil War and kind of taped off around the Gay 90’s when city life and flappers was hip. Leopold Center has journals, and workshops, don’t know if they are online.
    I’ll see what I can come up with (am a librarian) on my evening break.

  2. rochelle on April 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    thanks ‘p bargar’ I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!!

  3. Ann of Monona on April 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    You have done it again – informed me about an inspiration – this time its Pinterest. That is so cool that you can save images to your own board. Now another way to spend too much time on the internet.

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