No doubt, spring is here.

There may be snow and ice and the worst storm of the year with plenty of hail (though I do not expect that to happen until late April or May when all is in bloom) but no matter.

Spring as most gardeners define it, is the season when one thinks he may survive the winter, after all.

And with the definition in mind, we are safe to say spring is here at last.

The first flower bud of a snowdrop appeared Feb. 11 at my place, and while it still has not opened up, still it is something.

The witch hazel condescended to unfold the first of its orange filaments Feb. 13.I notice that people walk right by the bush and never notice it, so perhaps it would be wrong to call it showy.

But gardeners, like drowning men, will reach for anything in the winter and imagine they are still afloat.

Well, before this date last year some of the early bulbous irises were in flower outdoors. This year I see only the emerging shoots (no flower buds yet) of Iris danfordiae, the pleasant yellow dwarf with gren spots - one can usually spot the first aphids of the year on its blossoms.

Also emerging is Iris reticulata, in its wild form, which is rich purple. Its hybirds, with the blue I. histrioides have not appeared above ground yet. Last year they flowered beginning Feb. 6.

Usually Crocus seiberil can be counted on for a really spectacular arrival (spectacular because of its earliness) in January. This year it has not even sent up those toothpick spears that mean the flower is just below the ground and will soon emerge.

In some years daffodils send up their leaves in November, which makes the gardener nervous when he thinks of all the icy wind to be endured before late March.

This year the only daffodils up are Orange Wonder, which has the blood of Narcissus tazetta in it, and 'February Gold,' which is descended from Narcissus cyclamineus.

Daffodiles derived from the tazettas are in general rather late-flowering, in mid-April, but the foliage is often early. Some of the tender descendants of these cluster-flowered tazettas like to bloom outdoors in January, but rarely can do so up here.

A bulb of two of the tender 'Soleil d'Or' outdoors emerges here in November, and if we were have a nice winter it should bloom about Jan. 20, but only the most optimistic gardener ever hopes for this. This past January, at least, was not its year.

Lilac buds, for some reason, have swelled open, and that is alarming.What would a gardener do without alarms?

Still, the worst is bound to be over Right?