January Thaw

This is a post only a gardener could love…. and even at that it would need to be a gardener stuck in the cold and gray of a Northern January.  Only a cabin fever gardener would care about the first tiny green sprout of a snowdrop coming up among the freezer-burnt hellebore foliage.first snowdrop sprouts

Just a few days after temperatures dropped to -6F (-21C), the warmth has returned, the ground is thawing and I’m back outside poking for the first signs of spring.  The snowdrops (galanthus elwesii) seemed way too early but then after checking last year’s notes I saw the first was open January 31st last year, and I suppose we’re right on schedule.  Using this as a clue I checked the seed pots and saw minute sprouts there.  Yay!  These little babies might have to come in under the lights, a pot like this is something I might have to check every day!  **btw there are two tiny sprouts, just in case you can’t see them 🙂galanthus elwesii seedlings

Elsewhere in the garden some of the snowdrops (also galanthus elwesii) forced under lights last year are also ready for the new season.  I keep throwing more mulch on them to slow them down, but they insist on coming up and facing the frigid ice and blowing snow unprotected.galanthus elwessi sproutsI wish I cold post a couple witch hazel blooms, but mine is refusing to bloom this year.  It does that, going on and off depending on its mood.  So in a desperate bid for anything interesting, here are a few colchicum sprouts already showing.  Colchicum are another plant that insists on worrying me with a too-early showing.colchicum sprouts in the winterOne plant that did not appear to enjoy the polar vortex is this cyclamen coum.  The warm front that preceded the artic blast melted off all our snow cover and these little guys were forced to endure the straight on winds without any windbreaks or mulch cover.  I’m hoping the dark shriveled green of the leaves is not a sign of death…..frozen cyclamen coum foliageTo leave off on a good note this hellebore “HGC Silvermoon” is only showing the typical winter foliage damage.  It’s in a full sun position but was engulfed by a neighboring catmint plant during the summer.  The plant doesn’t seem to care and I’m looking forward to a nice show soon (now that I can see it again!) hellebore HGC silvermoonSo that’s it from here.  Not much, but it’s always nice to be able to get out there for a look around during the daylight hours.  It gives me time to contemplate failed projects such as the leaking pond shell, the hole of which is holding more water than when the pond liner was in there.  In my head I will fix it and end up happy….. right now it just annoys me whenever I pass.pond liner failBut it’s nice to be outside doing something other than shoveling snow.  There’s still a month at least before any thoughts of spring become legitimate, so I need to take it easy.  Another good cold snap would do well to cool this spring fever off, but I’m worried about what more indoor computer time would do.  Right now the budget is blown for spring and it has a lot to do with that easy click that brings plant goodies right to your door….. there’s still a long way to go, and I hope you’re doing better than I’ve been!

25 comments on “January Thaw

  1. All your babies are growing strong. We just had quite a bit of flooding yesterday due to the frozen ground, and snow today, so I hope all the shoots somewhere buried below make their timely appearance in a few months. It is like a surprise awaits, good and bad.

    • bittster says:

      I hope all your surprises are good ones! The flooding usually doesn’t do much damage, just when it sits around for a few days do the plants start to complain.

  2. Some of my colchicums come up early like that, too–but not all of them. I suspect all that do so share a genetic ancestry, but I have yet to pin it down. They get a bit tattered on those exposed tips but it never seems to stop them from growing in the spring or blooming in the fall.

    • bittster says:

      That’s good to hear, I was worried ever since one spring when all of them got nipped back because they sprouted too early. They finally grew, but the following fall one cultivar didn’t put up a single bloom out of a patch of dozens of bulbs….its been recovering ever since.
      But….. the spring was exceptionally dry and hot and I now think that’s what nearly did them in. I never even thought to water them…who waters in April!!

  3. Cathy says:

    Yippee – a snowdrop shoot! I know exactly how you feel. I’d been checking for mine daily and finally saw some – about the same size as yours – on Friday. Last year they flowered beneath the snow and I hardly saw them all winter, so I’m hoping we won’t get too much of a cold snap in the next few weeks. Oh and one hellebore has got a nice fat bud too. Those are tough conditions for the cyclamen when it’s dry and icy cold, but I bet they’ll bounce back.

    • bittster says:

      I hope the cyclamen bounce back! I’m cautiously optimistic…
      I’m more worried for the snowdrops. It’s not that uncommon for my early ones to get zapped enough to either lose their blooms or die completely… but the regular season ones are always reliable.
      Funny how they bloomed under the snow! I had that once too, I thought things were all snuggled in and sleeping under the snow, but it turns out they sprouted, bloomed and then lost their blooms while buried.
      I can’t wait for the hellebores 🙂

  4. Pauline says:

    Snowdrops love the snow and cold temperatures, they get plenty where they first came from in Turkey where they have very cold winters. Here in the Uk they are popping up everywhere, another couple of weeks and there will be drifts of white under trees making us think that spring isn’t far away.

    • bittster says:

      I think the extreme ups and downs are what give my drops trouble, but it is amazing what they put up with.

      When the snowdrops do finally start to open in large numbers I will go beyond thinking that spring isn’t far away…. I’m going to say spring is officially here!
      I’m looking forward to seeing how yours are doing 🙂
      Frank

  5. Chloris says:

    I think it is really exciting watching the shoots coming up and expanding day by day. Your snowdrops won’t be long. Do you cut the leaves off your Hellebores? It shows off the flowers so well and you don’t get the risk of botrytis spreading to the flower stems.

    • bittster says:

      I do cut off the leaves, they get so ratty looking by the time blooms come up here you wouldn’t want to keep them anyway.
      I still have plenty of time to get the job done, it will be late March before the buds start to swell on my plants.

  6. It’s so reassuring, isn’t it, to see those shoots emerging? And I am interested to see you have experience growing snowdrops from seed (I will be contacting you…). My few snowdrops aren’t emerging yet, but my hellebores are on a tear. If only the mud didn’t threaten to take me under any time I step outside…

    • bittster says:

      Ugh. Do you have mud that tends to the clay side? I used to garden in black Texas clay and when the rain was bad you risked losing a shoe if you strayed off the path!
      Feel free to ask any and all snowdrops from seed questions…. I have at least 6 months of experience under my belt now! LOL

  7. Christina says:

    I found a couple of crocus actually flowring yesterday and I hadn’t even seen the shoots before; so I know just how you fell about the snowdrops.

    • bittster says:

      It’s all those little things coming along that really make the garden interesting. Crocus are great but I can’t wait until you get more anemones blooming, I love their bright, saturated colors.

      • Christina says:

        The Anemones (sylphide) will keep coming now, slowly at first then lots, the other colours haven’t even got any foliage yet so they’ll be a while.

  8. Annette says:

    Delighted about all these whisperings, Frank. Only goes to show that nothing dies in autumn and winter – common misconception- but it all gathers strength and produces leaves and buds in anticipation. Wonder whether they look forward to spring as much as we do? I have received Tulipa sprengeri seeds recently – this will be the first time that I sow bulb seeds. It takes about 4-5 years for them to flower. As for the click-business: I’m terrible for ordering garden books in winter which can be fatal too 😉

    • bittster says:

      Once the garden fills up a bit more I’ll probably start filling the bookshelves next!
      It’s surprising how things like bulbs, shrubs and even trees seem as if they will take forever from seed, so why bother….. But then one day you realize you have placed your chair in the shade of an oak which started as an acorn in your pocket!

  9. Ah yes, it’s times like this that the neighbors wonder why I seem to be staring at the (to them) bare ground so intently. We rarely get snowdrops before mid-February, later if the snow stays thick on the ground.

    • bittster says:

      I can totally relate to that late winter shuffle. I’m a poker too and I bend down, push a couple twigs and leaves aside, and look desperately for any new sprouts and buds!

  10. I too am worried about the extreme fluctuations this winter! This is when zone 6 hopefuls find out they are really zone 5!

    • bittster says:

      I might be one of those hopefuls! But I look at it this way: The cold has come and gone and not stuck around very long, and we have been somewhat lucky with snow cover, so I’m not expecting many things to kick the bucket.
      I only have a few borderline plantings. Unless it’s something really cool there’s enough other stuff to experiment with…. I think the big loses will be for gardeners who pick up generic borderline stuff from the box stores. None of it is anything special, it’s just not as hardy as other stuff you could have picked instead.

  11. I like to use the January thaw days to clip all the branches off the Christmas tree and add them as extra protection against freeze-thaw cycles for the more delicate plants in my gardens!

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