How do I know? The snowdrops have been blooming for nearly a month and the witchhazel has decided to flower. I planted them on purpose to save my sanity after our long winters. This winter, of course, has been very mild. I still miss not getting enough snow!
Buds just cracking open
I have a spring blooming witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) that has finally reached a decent size after a couple of winters of rabbit munching. They don't grow especially quickly, which is unusual in my garden. Most of my trees and shrubs grow at fantastic rates, far quicker than they should. Not the witchhazel. It is taking its sweet time. Some day it will be 10 to 12 feet, but not for many years. I'm very fond of its big ruffled leaves that turn brilliant gold in the fall and its explosive seed pods that send seed far and wide (not that it reseeds, they can be tricky to propagate).
What pretty little dazzlers
I fell in love with witchhazel's strappy star-like flowers and its lightly astringent scent. With a few more sunny days, it will be truly lovely, but for now the petals are only about halfway extended. Its a cautious shrub. The snowdrops will fearlessly brave wind and snow, but the witchhazel needs convincing. That's how I'm sure spring is coming.