You don’t need a doctor to tell you the treatment

By Dan Gill

There is a malady that affects gardeners every year in the spring. Symptoms usually begin to appear around March, although I’m so badly affected I often detect an early onset in February. By the time April arrives, you can stop by any nursery on the weekend and see hundreds of people caught up in a major outbreak. I’m not sure that it is a really bad thing, but for some reason we have named the condition as if it was a disease. Yes, I’m talking about spring fever.

You know the symptoms: An incredible drive to be outside. Strange energies seem to flow through your body giving it increased stamina and it seems as if once you got started, you could spend all day long working out in the garden. Of course, accompanying these bursts of energy are the less enjoyable symptoms – blistered hands, sore muscles, and aching backs.

Spring fever also creates powerful cravings. Like a moth to the flame, a hummingbird to coral honeysuckle, or a slug to beer, gardeners with spring fever are drawn to nurseries, garden shows, plant sales, and any other place that offers plants for our gardens. Often, the craving is for something out of the ordinary or new for our landscapes, although we are happy to buy flat after flat of traditional colorful bedding plants and vegetable transplants as well.

There is no known effective treatment and certainly no cure. It just has to run its course. Like the common cold, just because you eventually get over it one year doesn’t mean that you won’t get another case the next year.

Generally, we get over it every year. When all is said and done, our bodies are a little worse for wear but our gardens look fantastic. What usually lingers, for me at least, is the financial effects.

Spring fever affects the control centers of the brain that regulate how much money we spend on plants, projects, and garden supplies. As a result, bank statements and credit card reports in May and June bring on one of the final symptoms – that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have to come clean to your spouse about how much you spent.

If you feel the onset of spring fever, I say give in and enjoy it.

As you stand in the nursery and hold that fascinating, beautiful, and desirable new plant in your hands, a decision must be made– should you keep it or put it back? Your sense of responsibility says, “Come on, you can live without it; it’s too expensive; it will probably die anyway.” While spring fever says, “Isn’t it beautiful? Wouldn’t it look great in a pot on the patio? I’d love to give it a try; I want it; I’m buying it.”

Well, I say buy that plant! Attractive landscaping adds to the value of your home and beauty of your neighborhood. Don’t go overboard, but I don’t see a thing wrong in indulging in a few interesting new plants you might have otherwise been inclined to put back.

Speaking of spring fever, I’ve been trying to decide what it is that nature does to bring on this annual ailment.

There is, undeniably, a special feeling during spring in Louisiana. I would be inclined to attribute it to the abundant colors provided by spring-flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and bedding plants. But there is certainly no lack of color in summer and fall, but we never talk about summer fever or fall fever.

I’ve decided that it is the explosion of the color green. During no other season is it so beautiful. From the exquisite greenish gold of emerging new growth on trees and shrubs, to the rich green of broad-leafed evergreens, green shouts, exults, celebrates, and is at the same time sweetly delicate.

It is the mild, cool weather combined with an explosion of growth that produces it. This combination occurs at no other time of year. It is only when the weather is cool and growth is abundant that we see the rich emerald greens that are so saturated and intense. Although all colors that delight our eyes are more vibrant in the spring, it is the richer, more brilliant, and immensely satisfying greens that make the gardener’s soul rejoice.

If you feel the onset of spring fever, I say give in and enjoy it. The plants you purchase will support your local nurseries, make your landscape look beautiful, and make you feel better until the fever breaks.

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