I believe that my garden is the only one within a hundred miles without a daffodil in bloom. My neighbors’ are flowering. Down the road, and across town I’m seeing a few here, and many more over there. My property is rather cold by nature, straddling a small creek that runs along the bottom land between hills that eventually turn to the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Snow persists for days longer than on nearby properties, and the overnight frost that settles onto this low lying ground often coats the small, shaded front garden long into the afternoon.
I’ve planted hundreds, and maybe thousands of daffodils (above, in some earlier year) through the years, and with this oddly warm winter they’ve shown growth since early in January. There are a few that appear ready to flower in the next two weeks, but none shows even a hint of color today. The petite growing and early blooming ‘February Gold’ is a misnomer in my garden. I suspect that it flowers somewhere in February, but I don’t believe that it ever has in my garden, and with only a few days remaining there’s little chance it will this year.
I’m not complaining, though it probably sounds as if I am. There’s plenty else flowering in late February, just as there’s been something flowering every day in the garden since mid February a year ago. Yes, flowers every day through the winter. Outside, in northwestern Virginia. What a strange and wonderful winter.
I’m afraid that there will be too many blooms to cover today before my energy to write and your patience to continue reading runs short, but I suppose I should begin with the bulbs, since I’ve already wasted your valuable time with several paragraphs bemoaning my lack of daffodil blooms. I read early in January that snowdrops (Galanthus, several unknown varieties, above) were flowering a bit closer to town, but of course in my garden they bloomed ten days later. In the past year they have begun to fill in nicely, and I expect that in another two years there will be quite a nice patch. I’ve planted them in the shadiest, coldest ground in the garden, but other than flowering a bit late they perform splendidly.
Sometime in recent memory, a year, or maybe two (or three years) ago, I planted a few handfuls of Winter aconites (Eranthus hyemalis, above). I seldom (never) purchase a sufficient quantity of bulbs to make much of a show until they multiply or go to seed, and this afternoon there is only one of these cheerful yellow blooms to be seen. In a more typical, dark and dreary winter this single flower would be treasured, but it’s easy to take it for granted with so many other flowers around.
And there are a few tiny crocus (above) that seem to spread themselves about vigorously in other gardens, but I planted probably five, and the squirrels or rabbits seem to keep them from doing much of anything. Still, they’re nice as I stroll through the garden this warm afternoon in short sleeves and short pants, and I know I should have planted many dozens more.
I’ve been jabbering on about the hellebores (above) since early in January, and now the few stragglers that had been reluctant to bloom finally have. Even though I didn’t cut back the foliage as I do nearly every other winter, the flowers are so abundant on the fat clumps that they stand well above the few browned, but mostly green leaves.
I’ve not kept count, but several of the hellebores have passed their ten year anniversary in the garden, and they grow better each year. The seedlings substantially outnumber the ones that I’ve planted, and I’m constantly surprised when a thick plant sports two or three (even four) varying flowers. I should know better, but I’m pleased to get to the root of the matter to dig through the leaf debris to discover that there are indeed three separate plants that have sprouted together under this camellia.
Flowers in the winter are so marvelous. I’ve planted these bulbs and perennials, the witch hazels, mahonias, and camellias for the purpose of having some flowers late into December, and occasionally early in February when I’m itching to be out in the garden, but when frigid temperatures, snow, and ice insist not. Over the past few years the late autumn flowering ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia has become fairly regular blooming into the first week of January, but I’m enthused as every bud begins to break, and with every bloom through the winter.
I will be at a garden show through the weekend, but when I get a few minutes at the start of the week I’ll catch up on everything else that’s blooming in the garden, or getting ready to.