I suppose I react to all of the aforementioned signs, but the concept of Spring doesn't really rise up and excite me until the first fragrant viburnums bloom, as they are now beginning to bloom in my garden. When I see those floral white snowballs open, when I suddenly run across a sweet current of air, that's when I really know Spring has arrived. I know it is Spring when my nose tilts to the air and I begin chasing scent across the garden to its source, almost always leading me to a viburnum.
|'Mohawk' bush form|
I also grow the Judd Viburnum (V. juddii, a cross of V. carlesii and v. bitchiuense), first introduced around 1920 by William Judd of the Arnold Arboretum, the Burkwood Viburnum "species" plant often seen labeled as V. burkwoodii (but really a cross of V. utile and V. carlesii), and I grow the species V. carlesii (which is later and not yet in bloom here). All are extremely fragrant, with burkwoodii a little larger and more aggressive in my garden than juddii. The blooms are impossible for me to tell apart without knowing the bush of origin.
In this week of yet another hard frost, another strong positive of these viburnums is readily apparent as well. I have not, for a single moment, contemplated them needing any covering or protection because their tough blossoms need none. The waxy petals shrug off frosts and simply resume blooming as soon as the air temperatures catch back up to the calendar. Here, as one gardener suggested to me, on this 83rd day of February in the Kansas Flint Hills.