I was surprised this afternoon to see that tiny Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae, below) has spread from a handful of bulbs to scattered coverage over several hundred square feet. I recall that a year ago I marveled that it had spread to a dense carpet covering fifteen square feet, but now there are small clumps over a much larger area. The first bulbs were planted beneath two wide spreading Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia), and over a period of eight or ten years the patch slowly expanded. For mysterious reasons, Glory of the Snow has now spread deeper into the woods that border the garden, and twenty feet down the slight slope, evidently from seeds that tumbled down the hill.
I can’t explain why the patch suddenly expanded, but it seems that rainfall must have coincided precisely at the time when the seed was ripe a year ago. The new plants are widely scattered, and it could be years before these areas thicken to match the spot under the hydrangeas. This area at the edge of the forest is root infested with exposed soil, but apparently the small bulbs don’t need much to get started. Though the flowers are effective for only a few weeks, the dense carpet of Glory of the Snow is quite splendid, and there’s promise for a more glorious show in a couple years.
One of the early dwarf irises (Iris bucharica, above) creeps from beneath a wide spreading paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha). The clump spreads slowly, and is apparently untroubled by the shade of the large shrub. Through winter and early spring the paperbush is bare except for its flowers, and this seems to be enough sunlight for the iris to thrive. The fragile blooms last for only a few days, and with inordinate heat they fade even more quickly, but there is not a flower in the garden more splendid. In fact, I’ve said this about the flowers of the paperbush also, and to enjoy one beneath the other is quite a treat.