Flowers and Promises
There is no question about it. Winter, with its unpredictable timetable, has arrived. This week we will have daily temperatures near or below freezing with high winds and also at least one day when we approach 70°. We are often asked when the garden will be at its winter peak. In general that happens during the second week in February and it looks as if that will happen this year.
Adonis vernalis has two fully opened flowers with more just emerging from the ground. Helleborus niger line the Mother-in-Law walk and Hh. vesicarius and thibetanus have flowers ready for pollination. Some of the other species bloom now—Hh. purpurascens, dumetorum, viridis, orientalis, cyclophyllus, and odorus, and hellebore hybrids bloom throughout the woods. We continue to cut off the old leaves, which sometimes seems a Herculean task but it is worth the trouble. We get down at ground level and look into the interior of the flowers.
Our large planting of Galanthus gracilis has created a carpet of grey-green leaves and tight buds of pure white petals held together with a green spathe. A warm, sunny day will see them open. The “amphitheater” has masses of Galanthus nivalis and aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) in bloom. Most of our aconites have brilliant yellow flowers but some have pale yellow ones. The pale ones just appeared here by chance after our initial planting about 30 years ago. We are just waiting for purple crocuses, miniature daffodils, and Cyclamen coum to complete this display. Cyclamen coum has been slow to open this winter. I can still count the number of flowers open but within a week or so there should be drifts of carmen, pink, or white flowers in many sections of the woods.
Throughout the garden a few Prunus mumes have open flowers while other forms have buds open far enough to indicate the color of their blossoms. A few young seedlings have made their debuts in the woods. This small tree has always been a sign of spring in mid-winter, long cherished, but often damaged by below normal temperatures.
Daffodils bend to the ground on cold mornings but usually straighten up as the temperature rises. There are more and more in bloom and each one seems a miracle. Each day brings forth new growth, more flowers and a new appreciation of this, my favorite season.