I suspect that I am not the only gardener who has gotten a jump on his spring cleanup. In a more typical winter, with only a few spells of warmth I am likely to waste the days in less productive pursuits, and this was true until a few weeks ago. Now, the early weeks of spring must not be consumed by endless labor, though in this one acre garden there is never a lack of chores that must be accomplished.
I must report on the casual research regarding squirrels and our birdfeeder. Possibly, the feeding habits of neighborhood squirrels are too ingrained, and they are too dependent on this accessible feeder. The addition of pepper seasoning to sunflower seed was a temporary discouragement, but a subsequent change to safflower seed was most successful. But, not completely, as several squirrels visit daily, though clearly for shorter feeding sessions.
I cannot recall a time when so many hellebores were flowering at this date. Certainly, there have been recent years when they bloomed earlier, with flowers fading with the occasional freeze in February, which of course have been rare this winter. I note a few hellebore seedlings that were transplanted are flowering, probably two years after they were large enough to move. Flowers of some are identical to those of parent plants, while others are a somewhat interesting pink, though this color is not so outstanding that I would choose it off the garden center shelf.
I once read a gardener’s claim that hellebores should be considered as invasive, and yes, some seed vigorously, but it seems the only hazard is that seedlings might overwhelm the original clump. In a few plantings, yellow-green flowers mix with dark purple, but in recent years I’ve weeded excess seedlings out to let the few grow on, and then these are transplanted in their second year. If the day comes when the garden is overrun, I expect that family and neighbors will willingly accept the excess.
Happily, now that most all of the snowdrops are up and blooming, it is apparent that these are multiplying nicely along the driveway and the front walk. None are where they might be seen from the road, even as neighbors walk by on mild February afternoons. Few winter flowers are borne in such mass as to be as obvious as an azalea or a cherry, so the gardener should be forgiven for arranging flower only for his enjoyment, and not sharing. If neighbors care to tour the garden, with an early start cleaning up, it’s as good as it gets for late winter.