Little Mouses Ears

Small oak leaves

For decades, rather than rely on our last frost date (or our national weather service watches and warnings for freezes during the growing season), I look to the oak tree on our property.

There’s an old farmer’s saying that when the oak leaves are the size of little mouses ears, you have had your last frost. And on my property, this has certainly been true. Once my oak tree leafs out, we never have a frost or killing freeze.

Generally, there’s wisdom to these “old time”sayings. People have had to figure out growing seasons well before we had calendars and weather data. And using phenology, which is plant observation, is a time honored way to figure out when to do things in the garden.

For those that follow a 4 step program of lawn treatment, in my part of the country the first 2 steps are generally supposed to be applied when the forsythia bloom and then when the lilac finish blooming. It’s a good way for homeowners to remember how to treat the lawn.

There are lots of other phenological–or plant based–sayings as well. I am just not as familiar with them, nor do I rely upon them the way I rely upon my little oak leaves.

But the day that I saw these, I began transitioning some of the hardier plants outside. Summer is only 50 or so days away!

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