Hope for spring

Last Sunday was a big day.  The first snowdrop managed to pop up and drop the first pure white bloom of the 2014 season.  Since then the not-so-pure snow has been on the retreat and temperatures have been almost seasonable!  One night temperatures didn’t even drop below freezing, and if you ignore the 9F night (-13C) you could almost imagine spring is close.

I don’t know how they do it, but somehow even from the frozen earth, under a layer of snow and ice, the snowdrops (galanthus elwesii) are growing.  I can’t imagine I missed this one in January during the last thaw.  It must have continued to grow as melting snow trickled down through the ice and then voila!  Spring 🙂snowdrop emerging from snowOther old friends are reappearing from beneath the filthy snow remnants.  Cyclamen hederifolium doesn’t look half bad after having spent the winter under a driveway snow pile.cyclamen hederifolium under snowA few feet away cyclamen coum is a different story.  The melting snow is leaving me with a mat of sloppy, rotting foliage.  Just for the record, you won’t get these pretty pictures on just any blog.  We’re here for the good, the bad…. and the ugly.
hardy cyclamen look dead
first cyclamen coum bloomBut spring is a fountain of hope, and even here I was able to find the first bloom coming up!  I think they’ll be ok but it’s a different look without the backdrop of healthy foliage (and I hope the tubers are able to prep for next year without their leaves)

Here’s a standard pussy willow shot.  Another one of my favorite plants.  Not much to look at most of the year, but I’d never be without it 🙂pussywillow budsThe “solid” winter of 2013/14 has tied up the Northeast in longer than average snowcover, and as a result even the snowdrops are running late.  2014 hitch lyman open daysI got this postcard from Hitch Lyman of The Temple Garden Nursery in upstate NY, and what a relief that I won’t be stressing over the long range weather report.  By April there should be something!  and even if some freak warm spell comes along there are enough other bulbs and hellebores to fill a garden visit.  But change your calendars, the new Garden Conservancy open date is April 5 from 11 to 3.

Here’s how my first snowdrop (an anonymous galanthus elwesii given to me by a friend) looks….. and notice another dead cyclamen coum leaf right at it’s base.  This spring they all look this way 😦 galanthus elwesiiI’m going to go on about snowdrops now, so tune out if you’ve already had your fill.  This week I’m struggling through my attempts to get better pictures.  So far I’ve learned nothing, but out of the countless blurry and overexposed pictures I’ve taken, the law of averages has let me bumble into one or two acceptable shots.  Here’s my nicest clump of galanthus nivalis (or most likely a hybrid thereof) which was rescued from the edge of a bulldozer rut during a local dairy farm’s gentrification.  It’s the last survivor of what used to be swaths of snowdrops…. spring snowdrops And here are three new treasures 🙂 -all variations on white, and all making me happier than a sparrow in spring (I’m assuming they’re happy, I finally hear them singing in the mornings). The first is galanthus “Gerard Parker”.
galanthus Gerard ParkerThe next, with much smaller blooms and a more average snowdrop look, is galanthus “Chedworth”.galanthus Chedworthand finally (with a drumroll implied) is galanthus “Primrose Warburg”.  It’s a little thing, but special enough to make me happy I was able to finally get a non-blurry portrait.
galanthus primrose warburgYesterday I noticed the first winter aconite is out.  They’re still tiny and lack confidence, but I’m hoping spring is really on its way (although it’s snowing as I write this and a storm is predicted for tonight).  Happy Sunday!

26 comments on “Hope for spring

  1. Don’t worry about the coum, the tubers will be fine. Most all of my coum leaves got burned off this winter but they are flowering like champs. I think it is better if the leaves are completely gone, rather than flowering through a half fried mess. Most winters they look good here, it is just ones like this that get them really badly. It is the ice/snow and repeated freeze/thaw – they will take any amount of pure cold on the leaves. Leaves on elegans and confusum were also toast but again, the tubers are fine and they will be back. Best, J.

    • bittster says:

      Well that’s good news, I thought they should be ok, but since the blooms were up so much earlier last year I was afraid most of the flowers might be toast too. It’s not easy to fight the urge to poke around looking for shoots, but it always ends badly for me so I’ll just try to be patient a little bit longer. I did notice another bloom, but today’s cold again and not a day for growing.

  2. Pauline says:

    How wonderful to have your snowdrops flowering at last! I hope your weather warms up a bit and all the snow goes so that you can enjoy your spring flowers.

    • bittster says:

      It is great to have them finally blooming outside. I added a few named ones last spring and fall and it’s been such a long wait to see them return. I was on the edge wondering if they settled in or went belly up! So far so good though.

  3. Chloris says:

    I hope you get your thaw and some sunshine too to enjoy your snowdrops. Are you going to plant out all the ones you have in pots?

    • bittster says:

      Possible warmer temperatures later in the week so that should make for better snowdrop weather! I’ll plant out all the potted ones, but probably not until after they go dormant. I’ll tap off the top layer of soil and let them dry off in a cool part of the garage until fall planting weather.

  4. Christina says:

    Great you have at least had a taste of spring, I hope the snow you had while writing your post soon disappeared. I’m sure your cyclamen will be OK!

    • bittster says:

      The snow didn’t last, and tonight’s storm is supposed to just miss us! By Tuesday it should nudge up above freezing again but all the nighttime lows call for frost and worse. There’s no outside drinks and dining here yet!

  5. Cathy says:

    I bet those cyclamen are as resilient as the hellebores. Love that last snowdrop in particular – so glad you can see them at last! 😀

    • bittster says:

      I’ve been waiting to see these snowdrops for a long time and I’m out there way too much looking at them. They really need to be moved into the backyard where I can enjoy them non-stop, and not worry about the neighbors judging me for being out there several times a day, crouched down, admiring them or taking another three or four pictures!
      It’s been a long winter 😉

  6. pbmgarden says:

    It’s great to see your snowdrops and cyclamen climbing out after the hard winter. We had lovely days last week but snow this morning!

  7. Annette says:

    WordPress didn’t show me your last posts, very annoying. So here I am admiring the strong will of these small, seemingly delicate creatures and think it’s just awesome. Nothing will ever get them down. Has this winter been unusually hard, Frank? Would you normally see lots of spring flowers at this time?

    • bittster says:

      Things are a little behind this spring, but nothing really unusual. The snow cover was remarkable consistent and we haven’t had snow stay around like this for many years! Temperatures for us were also a steady cold, but only a little colder than our normal lows. The steady cold was unusual, most years are more up and down. I think overall the snow and steady weather were actually good for most plants, just not so good for the borderline shrubs or evergreens.
      I keep losing blogs from my list! I use a phone to check on things and my fat fingers are always doing their own thing on the touch screen!
      I’m excited to see things growing again, and the warmth of the sun is most welcome 🙂

  8. Congratulations on seeing signs of spring! I am trying to follow the snowdrops’ example of resilience (not succeeding, I’m afraid). Early this morning, I heard my kids doing rock-paper-scissors to see who had the unfortunate responsibility of telling me the three-hour school delay announced last night due to sleet storm had turned into yet another school cancellation.

    • bittster says:

      Ha Ha! Surely winter will be over in another few weeks!? This winter has been just full of early weekday snows that bring on cancellations. Our kids will be going nearly all of June this year (they’re usually out the first week!)

  9. Love all your pictures of the snowdrops, especially that first one in the snow!

  10. The C. hederifolium look fantastic, mine look about the same except for less foliage… they were part of someones lunch a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, my C. coum appear to be the same, rotted and blah, makes me sad I was hoping for some of the bright flowers…perhaps next year. Your photographs look great. I am glad that you put up the G. ‘Primrose Warburg.’ I ordered it to plant out this year so hopefully I will see blooms on it next year. I am excited for the open days at Temple Nursery I have never been. I am seriously thinking about going, but I am afraid though that I am going to be the crazy person that drove 7 hours 😦 I hope for that kind of drive I hope the Snowdrops will be out to greet us. Hopefully I will see you there. 🙂 Enjoy your Snowdrops and hopefully no more snow for us!

    • bittster says:

      Your coum might be just fine, if you check John’s comment up above he says his are blooming normally even with the lack of foliage. Mine are also putting up more buds and should look better in another week or two 🙂
      7 hours is a tough call! I overheard a few 4 hour comments during my last visit, I don’t think any one snowdrop fanatic will stick out any more than the other ones, so you might be ok! I would never be one to judge 😉
      My Primrose Warburg hasn’t been around long enough for me to really get the full effect, I love it but don’t know how it compares to other yellows. Hopefully we’ll both have big clumps in a couple years!

  11. Congrats. The snowdrops always look so precious in the snow, I really like your first image. I will have to look out in the garden today between raindrops today and snowfall tomorrow for them here. Finally we are getting a bit of warmer weather, yet ice and snow are still around.

    • bittster says:

      Even though it’s warmer here, the hardpacked snow and ice are so stubborn. A good warm rain would do wonders, but I’m always a little anxious that the season takes off without me and I miss something!

      • Ha, I am always missing stuff in my garden once the season breaks. It is a complication of my job, I get home and don’t necessarily want to see my garden after a long day on a job site. Other times, working on the designs in my office the same thing happens. After Summer, I finally get to see what is out there. I think that is why I like Fall and Winter so much, time to tend the homefront.

  12. Its so funny this year that my snow drops are still blooming and the daffodils are just breaking open! Lovely photos!

  13. […] In general snowdrops are nothing much to look at unless you have a couple decades worth of adding and dividing and transplanting under your belt.  But small progress can be made.  Here’s an un-named Galanthus elwesii which a friend shared with me years ago.  It faced death many times before I knew what I was doing, but in 2013 I found a good spot, and in 2014 it finally escaped the muck and cold and narcissus fly attacks which were holding it back, and bloomed beautifully.  It even earned a spot on this blog. […]

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