"It's an absolute joy," said Kate Posey, president of the local Master Gardener group, which has about 25 members. "It's the end of that cold winter and kind of barren look, and now it's just joyful. I have white spirea in the backyard and it's like 5 feet tall and it just looks like it's dragging its hands to the sky. It's just so beautiful and there's so many things that bloom this time of year.
"Even though it seems to be for such a short time, they have such beauty and color. All of the daffodils are blooming right now and I have Lenten roses that are blooming. Some of my camellias are blooming right now. So it's wonderful to be outside and see the sun and to know that life is starting all over again. The dogwoods [also] are starting to bloom out. It's so priceless."
While several of her flowers are ablaze with blooms, the Kingston resident also is excited about being reunited with some of her favorite perennials that are currently peeking out of the ground.
"[A lot of plants are] just starting, like the daylilies are just inches tall and the ivy is starting to put out new growth," Posey said. "Just that they made it through the winter, it's just such a joy. I have some peonies, which are coming back. We had to move them last year. We were cutting trees down and we didn't want them to get squashed. So I actually put them in pots.
"So just to actually see them coming back, knowing that they are going to make it and that everything's going to be all right [is wonderful]. My hostas [also] are starting to come up now, and lilies of the valley are peeking out of the ground and Solomon's seal are actually coming up. They're about 3 or 4 inches tall. It's like every day, there's another thing to look at that's absolutely gorgeous."
Echoing her friend and fellow Master Gardener's sentiments, Venia Etta McJunkin also is welcoming the warmer weather and the opportunity to nurture the flora in her Cartersville yard.
"Surprises that come out of the ground after a hard summer and a hard winter, it's exciting. I'll go out every morning when the tulips are fixing to bloom and count the next bud that comes up," McJunkin said. "I've got 21 blossoms and to have them come up and watch them and make sure the deer didn't get them the night before [is enjoyable]. ... You think every day, 'It's overwhelming.'
"You watch it in the late winter when the days are beginning to get warmer, and you've got a jacket on and you're out there and just -- you can't wait. And then all of a sudden it's overwhelming. It takes a while to get caught up. I just now feel like I'm caught up. But this spring, I'm just waiting on things to start coming up better. A lot of things are just now showing green. It's a little early to put out annuals. It's early to put out vegetables," she said, adding she intends to plant corn, beans and tomatoes.
Referring to spring as a busy gardening season, both women say this time of year is the ideal time to trim overgrown shrubs, clear debris from winter plants to make way for new ones to emerge, fertilize daylilies and place mulch in flower beds. While McJunkin prefers to use pine straw for mulch, both gardeners utilize Milorganite, a slow-release fertilizer from Milwaukee, Wis., that is deer resistant and rich in nutrients.
"In the summertime, I make a pass around the yard just to see what's going on, usually with my trimmers," McJunkin said. "The wintertime, that's my quilting season. I quilt, [but] that's just in winter. I don't even go upstairs in the summertime. But [it is important] to [garden] early in the day before the mosquito season starts. It [is] a morning chore, and either I'm pruning, deadheading, just looking to see what's coming up, fertilizing or picking my lettuce. I like to get my lettuce early in the morning for my day's salad or sandwich, or whatever.
"As soon as the ground turns warm enough I'll be putting a few vegetables in. ... [What I enjoy most about gardening is] seeing the fruits of your labor. If you take care of your garden through June, your garden will take care of you after that. Now this is assuming you're going to have a normal rainfall. But early in the morning in the springtime, I listen to the birds and it's so pleasant. Sometimes there'll be a breeze and oftentimes not and just to be out [is so relaxing]. Then is when you say, 'Thank you, Lord.' It's wonderful."
For more information about gardening or the Bartow County Master Gardeners program, contact the Bartow County Extension Office -- 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville -- at 770-387-5142. According to www.ugaextension.com/bartow/, "The purpose of the Georgia Master Gardener program is to assist Cooperative Extension by training Master Gardeners to provide current horticultural information through volunteer community service and educational gardening projects using applied research and the resources of the University of Georgia."