Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable
Outdoors we have been seeing a lot of ups and downs in the temperatures in a fairly brief period of time. The snow helps as insulation against abrupt changes in temperature, so the ground is not rapidly freezing and thawing, but any outdoor plants in containers above ground, such as those in urns or window boxes, have a tough time of it in these conditions. On Valentine’s Day I woke up to see dramatic icicles hanging from the eaves, after unseasonably warm temperatures last Friday. The nearly full moon that evening rose through a curtain of sparkling icicles.
February’s full moon is usually called the Snow Moon, and so far this month that has proved to be very appropriate! This year it fell on Wednesday, February 16. By the time the moon was completely full this week, most of the icicles had fallen, but most unpaved areas still had snow on the ground, and it may take a while for the big mounds of plowed snow to diminish. February’s full moon is also sometimes called the storm moon, the groundhog moon and sometimes the hunger moon, since the snow covering the ground makes it difficult for many animals to find food, and ice-covered ponds make it challenging for birds whose diets depend heavily on fish or pond plants. Any birds of prey, like herons or eagles, which have not flown south at this point have likely moved to coastal locations or moving rivers, since the ponds have been mostly frozen over.
Many people in Saugus have been out walking and looking for the bald eagle couple that has returned to Saugus this winter. Charlie Zapolski has managed to take some amazing pictures of them. On Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12), he found the happy couple perched in a tree where they could keep an eye out for a good fishing opportunity. He says they were “basking in the sun and I was able to get within 100 feet of them to take the shots.”
The bands on the birds’ legs are clearly visible in his photographs, although not quite readable. Usually the female in this species is larger than the male. When my husband and I went down to the rail trail last weekend in hopes of seeing them, a family told us they had just seen them on the Lynn side of the trail as we were heading across the new red pedestrian bridge over part of the Saugus River near Hamilton Street. The snow did not keep people from enjoying the views and wildlife.
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), our national bird, was seen last winter by quite a few people, and may have spent at least part of the summer here, although the eagles have been sighted much more frequently in the winter. Eagle populations have been on the rebound since being endangered in the late 20th century, and the trend is continuing over most of the continent. Over 50% of their preferred diet is fish, so they are usually seen perched in trees near water, and in the winter generally in coastal locations. They will also eat medium-sized birds, mammals and sometimes turtles. I saw the eagles near Birch Pond before the water froze, and they have been frequently seen flying near Saugus Center and Vinegar Hill recently, as well as near the marsh and the river.
The heath and Lenten rose outside my door have been covered by snow twice but are now protruding above the snow cover but have changed very little. Indoors there is still plenty of color from flowers and indoor plants. Several kinds of bulbs are still blooming – tulips (Tulipa hybrids) and grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum), and a few blossoms linger on one amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.). The pink cyclamen has many blossoms. The roses and our mixed bouquet from early February have mostly faded, but we have some other bouquets to take their place. Four dozen red tulips from Valentine’s Day fills a vintage blue peanut jar on our dining room table, updating it to this weekend’s celebration of Presidents’ Day.
Editor’s Note: Laura Eisener is a landscape design consultant who helps homeowners with landscape design, plant selection and placement of trees and shrubs, as well as perennials. She is a member of the Saugus Garden Club and offered to write a series of articles about “what’s blooming in town” shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired after seeing so many people taking up walking.