Making up for lost time

The first few weeks of spring all happened in four days, four gloriously warm and sunny days!  I prefer a drawn out cool season with no big shocks but I don’t think that will be the case this year.  Last Saturday went up to just over 80F (27C) and the drab gray garden exploded into color.

narcissus tete a tete

Narcissus “Tete a Tete” one of the best small, early daffodils for the garden and also for forcing in pots.

Just a few days ago we were freezing our kazooies off looking at snowdrops, now I’m rushing to admire the last spring snowflake (leucojum vernum) before the warm weather fries its delicate bloom.  It’s hanging on in a cold spot which only just thawed out last week.

leucojum vernum

Leucojum vernum the spring snowflake, that’s a flake, not a drop, even though snowdrops are a close relative.

Around front, the shelter of the house has things popping up even faster.  Corydalis “George Baker?” and the hellebores opened in two days, the hyacinth was a fat bud Sunday and then full bloom on Monday when I took this picture.

hellebores and corydalis

I have good luck with hyacinths.  In fact the blooms get so big and heavy they end up flopping when fully open.  This little piglet has been in the same spot for five years and has a bloom bigger than ever, plus two secondary stalks.  If only the yucca “colorguard” behind wasn’t so beat up by the winter….

how I like all my hyacinths to grow

The hard winter may have been good for something though.  This is the first spring I’ve ever seen corydalis seedlings, and Carolyn over at Carolyn’s Shade Garden said she notices an abundance of seedlings around her plants after a snowier winter.  Maybe the snow cover helps moderate the soil moisture or temperature and aids in germination or maybe after all the snow we’re just looking more desperately and notice every single green sprout!

corydalis solida seedlings

Corydalis seedlings, I first thought they were some odd one-leafed clover that needed weeding out!

Corydalis are one of my new favorites, and the most confusing thing about the seedlings is I never even noticed the seed pods forming… and trust me I was looking!  I have it in my head to nurture nice swaths of corydalis color similar to the showcase found in Carolyn’s garden.  The ones I have here (“George Baker and “Beth Evans”) were originally ordered from Brent and Becky’s and are exactly the bold colors I’m looking for.  I also added some straight species corydalis solida from Van Engelen’s,  but they’re just a little too pale and small and actually seem to be dying out.

corydalis and scilla "spring beauty"

Corydalis solida with blue scilla siberica “Spring Beauty” and Chiondoxas…. and finally some greening grass.

Corydalis really appreciate division and replanting, and this single bulb moved the year before last is already a nice little clump.  You just have to get to them quick though, they die down fast after blooming and it’s hard to remember where they were.

corydalis george baker

Corydalis “George Baker” with some hyacinths in need of division and replanting.

My focus for the last few days has been getting the cleanup done so everything can sprout up all nice and fresh.  Some people are concerned that early cleanups leave the little sprouts exposed to late frosts, but I never have a problem.  Actually I feel that mulched areas warm up in the sun more quickly than damp exposed earth, but overall it’s the mid May freezes that kill my plants, not the cold blasts in March and April, so I clean up as soon as I can get out there.  It lets me see all the weeds such as this campanula that has taken over most of what was supposed to be an iris bed.

kids in the garden

Cleanup includes taking the seeds out from under the deck.  What was I thinking when I started all these!?  Even if I get rid of all the campanula plus some more lawn, there still might not be enough room for planting out all these seedlings.  A few pots already show sprouts btw.

seeds sown in winter

Seed pots sown throughout fall and winter and left to stratify (exposed to the elements) under the deck.

Daffodils will also need some attention this summer.  The first are opening and I’d like to divide several of these clumps after they die back.  Here’s the early yellow “Peeping Tom” and some unknown bicolor that I’d love to put a name to.

daffodil peeping tom

Some of the daffodil beds got a nice mulch of mowed up maple leaves last fall, but they only go so far.  As I clean out the flower beds everything from leaves to perennial stalks to shrub trimmings to ornamental grass tops, all gets run over by the mower and bagged up to either mulch beds or feed the compost.  The warm weather brought up this clump of narcissus “Rapture” so fast, I barely had time to get the mulch around it before the blooms opened.

narcissus rapture

Narcissus “Rapture” opening so fast in the warm weather the blooms barely had time to make it up out of the ground.

I really should use some of these early daffodils out in the front beds along with a few of these blue chiondoxas.  This clump was actually just a weed which hitchhiked in on some scilla mischtschenkoana bulbs which share this same spot.  Six days prior the scilla was in full bloom and there wasn’t a sign of the chiondoxa.  Now look at it!

chiondoxa forbesii

A clump of what might be chiondoxa forbesii… don’t know for sure since I never really planted it 🙂

There’s nothing subtle about spring in my garden.  Besides yard cleanup I planted these pansies out in pots by the front door, and although these are in a more subtle grayish pot, the rest were planted in a bright cobalt pot!  Planter choices aside,  I may be on to something with the pansy mix.  Christina over at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides used a similar color mix for an arrangement of Gerber daisies, and I’m going to be on the lookout for my own daisies in these colors too.

matrix daffodil mix pansies

‘daffodil mix’ Matrix pansies

So that brings us to the next flush of color.  The hellebores are also starting to open up in the exposed parts of the garden.  Here’s “HGC Silvermoon” still looking kind of greenish.  The foliage on this one is great and I’m jealous of gardeners who are able to get it through the winter with leaves worth looking at.

hgc silvermoon

Hellebore “HGC Silvermoon” just starting to open up. Too bad the nice foliage on this one was burnt up by the cold.

And one of the first Elizabethtown seedlings just starting to come up.

pink hellebore

A nice freckled hellebore from Elizabethtown seed.

So spring is finally here in full force, just in time for Easter.  There are still a few bumps in the road …..such as last night’s snowfall and low of 21F (-6C) but I think we’ll make it.  I just have to find the time to catch up on all the things that were on hold because of the weather.  It’s way too early to fall behind!

20 comments on “Making up for lost time

  1. Chloris says:

    At last you have plenty of flowers! I love Corydalis too and you never know what colour the seedlings will be. They are all lovely. Your Leucojum vernum is sweet. It has two heads on one stem so it must be wagnerii. That is a gorgeous colour combination in your pansy pot.

    • bittster says:

      I was surprised by the two blooms on the leucojum, I’ve never seen more than one, so I hope this becomes a yearly thing. I also have a few of the twin flowered yellow, carpathicum, but they were just not very photogenic this spring.
      I only really have reddish corydalis, do you think the seedling will be similar? I’d like a little more variety… Also how many years till bloom do you think?
      I am quite proud of myself for the pansies, more so than I should be since all I did was open my wallet!

  2. Cathy says:

    It’s amazing how quickly everything rejuvenates. I really love those freckled hellebores – such a delicate colour. My corydalis have never seeded for me, regardless how cold the winters have been, but the yellow ones (C. lutea) that flower in summer set themselves all over the place!

    • bittster says:

      Things really did burst out this year, but I hate how fast it goes….. Although today is freezing again and I’m not enjoying sitting here in the cold for baseball practice.
      I am really looking forward to hellebore season, I have several new ones blooming for the first time 🙂

  3. Your garden really is exploding with color. I love Corydalis solida. You are right though it does die out and spring up in other places. I don’t think it is the severity of the season that makes seedlings but the more constant snow cover.

    • bittster says:

      Sorry about the misquote, I changed the post to what I hope is a little more accurate, next time I’ll try not to be so sloppy!
      We had quite the blast of cold Tuesday night, I hope the corydalis blooms make it, but I don’t think there will be many seeds forming this spring.

  4. I always get corydalis seedlings somewhere in the garden. I am convinced that rodents will eat the corms. Maybe they don’t clean them out like they do crocus, but I am pretty sure some get eaten. Your spring garden is looking pretty good.

    • bittster says:

      I’m glad there’s finally something blooming here.
      Nothing’s messed with the bulbs yet, (other than every last crocus having been eaten by rabbits) but I’m sure one if these days my luck will run out. It probably helps having several stray cats around….

  5. pbmgarden says:

    What a happy looking spring garden. This year I am noticing Corydalis for the first time. Very attractive.

  6. Amy Olmsted says:

    All the blooms are looking so wonderful! My corydalis are also seeding around here and they increase by division so quickly too!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Amy, good to see you around here again!
      It’s promising to know that they multiply fast, maybe my visions of sheets of bloom aren’t as far off as I think.

  7. Pauline says:

    Spring has certainly arrived in your garden, everything is looking beautiful. My, you have sown a lot of seeds, do you know where you are going to plant them all?
    My Corydalis solida has seedlings starting to grow, some were flowering the same colour as solida, purple and others were exactly the same as Beth Evans which is about 20ft away! Thanks for the tip about splitting them, I must do it soon.

  8. Annette says:

    Wow, you’re certainly making up for lost time, Frank! What a difference to last time and isn’t the weather completely crazy. Lots of colour to enjoy – I like Corydalis too and have lots of Chionodoxa forbesii which certainly is one of the finest spring flowers. Your hellebores are beautiful as well, I’m especially intrigued by HGC Silvermoon – what does HGC stand for? Looking at all these pots I can’t help but smile: Bon courage, Frank, lots of work ahead 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I am so happy to finally have more flowers to look at, and there’s so much still to look forward to… also the warmth of sun on my face is such a refreshing feeling…. well maybe not refreshing since it just makes me sleepy!
      I think the HGC in the hellebore name is a branding thing from the breeder, I believe it stands for hellebore gold collection and shows up in a few names from that breeder.
      Have a great week Annette!

  9. I think our “four days” has finally arrived. Hyacinths, pasque flower and tulips and hellebore ready to open. Amazing what a little warmth and sun does to the landscape. I like your pansies. I need to go get some myself.

    • bittster says:

      Pansies are one if those annual traditions, it’s a great way to shake off the dust of winter and put the trowel back to work.
      Glad to here you have a bit if spring finally, I have my fingers crossed for pasqueflower seedlings this year. Wish me luck they sprout and I can bring them on to blooming!

  10. Your hyacinths are looking very fat and happy. I’m growing some for the first time (they are in containers) and they should be blooming soon. Very much looking forward to the fragrance. Not sure if I should keep them in containers or move them to one of the borders when the foliage dies back.

    • bittster says:

      I think either way you’ll be fine. I tend to need all my pots for the summer, so any stray bulbs get dug up and planted out in the garden to ripen off for next year. Apparently hyacinths are not too tasty and are not bothered much in my garden.

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