O Love-star of the unbeloved March,
When cold and shrill, Forth flows beneath a low, dim-lighted arch The wind that beats sharp crag and barren hill, And keeps unfilmed the lately torpid rill! ~Sir Aubrey de Vere, Ode to the Daffodil~
The daffodils are coming! I saw their bright green leaves poking up through the snow in front of my grandson's preschool -- evidence that this winter will not last much longer.
I wish I had remembered to plant a few early blooming plants last fall. Although my husband and I like to drivie through the hills on picture taking expeditions as a type of "what-flowers-are-blooming?" scavenger hunt, I would love to see some of those early harbingers of spring out of my own sunroom windows.
"Snowdrop!" rejoiced some children who came into the garden. "There
stands one, so sweet, so beautiful-the first, the only one!" ~Hans Christian Anderson, The Snowdrop~
One of the earliest bloomers is the Snowdrop (Galanthus). Snowdrops push up through the snow as early as December and, depending on the species, bloom through March.
Snowdrops are very hardy, but caution must be taken during fall planting as their bulbs must not be allowed to dry out before they go in the ground. A covering of mulch will aid in retaining moisture while the plants become established. Some specialty suppliers sell Snowdrops for planting "in the green" -- while the plant is still growing but after the blooming is over. These plants are much more reliable for blooming next winter than fall planted bulbs.
"Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold," said the angel, "is
offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure
Christmas Roses." And thus young Madelon went her way and worshiped the Prince of
bearing the gift of her heart and tears. ~Anonymous, Legend of the Christmas Rose~
Another winter bloomer is the Hellebore (Helleborus), commonly known as the Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose. As the name implies, they flower from mid-winter to early spring, depending on the species. Some in more northern areas may bloom as late as April or May.
Hellebores are drought tolerant if planted where they receive dappled shade. Their planting site should be enriched with organic matter and mulched after planting. These beauties are good for winter containers and they make excellent cut flowers to bring inside.
Hellebores grow quickest from clump division planted in April to May. Seed can be sown when the seed is ripe but seedlings take about three years to bloom.
I would love to have my yard completely naturalized with plants that bloom winter through fall. But until our home improvement projects are completed (especially the sidewalks and driveways), I have a trick to give myself the illusion of a spring-blooming landscape.
As soon as the stores start selling spring-blooming bulbs growing in pots, I buy enough to fill three window boxes with tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. I under-plant them with pansies. The sill right outside my family room is wide enough to hold the boxes and I can enjoy some spring glory in fireplace-warmed comfort. A big bonus for me: I get to satisfy my need for earth under my fingernails earlier than my gardens will allow.