Gardeners often find their passion when the kids fly the nest, the first house is purchased, or maybe at retirement. I was an odd child. I planted tree seedlings in the sandbox and collected seedheads while on the family vacation. I remember one Christmas when in addition to playdoh and matchbox cars I added bulbs to the list. Somehow Santa found a few wood hyacinth in December, and I was a happy kid when the presents were opened.
My parents were the sensible type though, and although a lot of the lawn was turned over for flowers, they insisted I take it easy so that the yard wasn’t a complete burden when I moved on. They were right of course. The college years, first apartments, moving around to different states, all those other things in life that interfere with gardening happened, and it’s only now twenty something years later that I’m settled down enough to really have some fun. I can’t afford a fancy car-midlife crisis, but I can still swing a few overpriced snowdrops while also keeping the kid’s college funds intact. Here’s a treasure from Far Reaches Farm in Washington state. A friend tipped me off to a few snowdrops at this nursery (very reasonably priced for named snowdrops), and although shipping cross country during a polar vortex isn’t exactly normal plant buying procedure, I’m sitting fat and happy here, all hunkered down on the Pennsylvania tundra with my brand new galanthus “John Gray”.I also picked up ‘Blewbury Tart’. Maybe she’ll grow on me as the little tart clumps up but for now I’m still lukewarm to her small sideward facing congested bloom. Both of my new snowdrops show up on ‘best growing’ or ‘favorite snowdrop’ lists, so I’m pretty sure that even when they’re out in the garden among all the other snowdrops they should someday make me proud.
Of course when shipping cross country it’s foolish to buy just two plants. Far better to fill the box, so I added two primrose plants. This one is primula vulgaris ssp. sibthorpii, an English type primrose that has a reputation for doing better through the dry, hot spells that other primrose generally don’t like here. The second (and third bonus!) primrose are in a cold garage corner (still dormant), but this one with it’s blooms already coming up goes right in to add to the winter garden!
I loved my Far Reaches Farm order. Premium plants packed to perfection, communication was great, and the primula are so well grown they could even be divided now if I were so inclined. Just looking at their website today I could have easily filled another even larger order with cool arisameas and species roses…. but I should really do a one month cool off period for any more new plant orders (the budget being blown as it is!) For now I’ll have to be satisfied with the winter garden…. for as long as it lasts…. the cold is creeping into the garage and the last polar plunge has pots in the corners of the garage frozen solid.
All these exciting new treats make me wonder why I ever bothered to overwinter those tired old tender plants from last year! They only look marginally better this winter after having spent most of their time under the grow lights, and I think the trouble’s not worth it, so next year it’s back into the near dark of the garage. I know come May it will have been worth taking them in. Maybe if I’m bored during next week’s not-going-over-freezing weather I’ll repot the geraniums and start giving them a little water. It will be nice to have some summer flowers growing again, and they shouldn’t mind the cool garage temperatures at all.