I Knew I Could, I Knew I Could

Like the little train who could, spring has done it.  She made an arrival last week and opened a ton of flowers but then got nervous, and ducked backstage again.  It’s a start though and I’ll take it!

‘Purple Bird’ corydalis, pink ‘Beth Evans’, and the slightly darker ‘George Baker, plus a few other things. The snowdrops are over for another year…

Last Tuesday wasn’t exactly the day it all happened, but it was a start, and once we got over the freezing mornings of midweek, winter cracked and the thermometer rose to nearly 80F (26C) for Friday and Saturday.  This is what everything was waiting for, and all of a sudden spring raced ahead another week or two.

narcissus tweety bird

Just a week ago there was nothing to see, but two days of warmth brought up the bright yellow ‘Tweety Bird’ daffodils and the pink of more corydalis towards the middle of the front street border.

The ‘Tweety Bird’ narcissus are one of the first daffodils to open here, right alongside the smaller ‘Tete a Tete’.  They’re almost too bright, but of course it’s the color you want after all that grey.  I think it goes along great with the pinks and purples of the Corydalis solida.  They open at the same time (at the earliest end of the daffodil season) and as I spread the little tubers of Corydalis ‘Beth Evans’ around the garden, a temporary pink carpet is starting to take shape.

corydalis beth evans

Corydalis ‘Beth Evans’ in need of dividing.  This one actually might multiply a little too fast since the clumps don’t flower as well due to the crowding.  (notice the single red seedling at the lower right, always a nice thing to see!)

For a couple of years the corydalis have been selfseeding, and in an effort to diversify I’ve added a few fancier colors to the gene pool.  I probably shouldn’t have bothered though, since the seedlings seem to diversify well enough on their own and all kinds of new shades are showing up.  Plus to my eye even the most exceptional named forms don’t seem stand-out better than what I’ve already got.  Still, a dark red or garnet, and a white were what was missing from the garden so I’m glad to see that deficit has been repaired.

named corydalis

A few named corydalis.  Front center is ‘Gunite’, maybe ‘Firebird’ just to the right, and white ‘Snowstorm’ just behind them.  The blue is Scilla siberica which is happily spreading throughout the garden… for better or worse. 

Corydalis cover a pretty good part of the earliest spring spectrum but a few other things are also making the garden look alive again.  Hyacinths are doing their part, and although the big floppy hybrids are nice enough, my absolute favorite is one of the multiflowering types, ‘Anastasia’.

multiflowering hyacinth anastasia

Hyacinth ‘Anastasia’.  Multiple flower stems and a clumping up habit are nice but the dark stems and violet flowers are what hyacinth-love looks like.

The pink and white versions of this hyacinth (‘Pink Festival’, ‘White Festival’) just don’t do as much for me, as well as the plain green stemmed blue version (‘Blue Festival’), but then I have to admit I’m not as in to baby shower colors in the garden, so if that’s your taste…. so be it.  In the meantime I’m holding my breath for hellebore season.

picotee hellebores

The first hellebores opening up along the street.  These were grown from ‘yellow picotee’ seed years ago, and I should probably add a few more.

I can’t remember the last time the hellebores came up so nicely, it’s become habit to expect a frigid arctic blast to come along and melt the flower stems and blacken the new foliage.  I forgot how nice they can be, and how occasionally they even rival the catalog photos.

dark hellebore

The dark hellebores are also very cool.  These are much darker in person and almost disappear into the mulch from a few feet.

The majority of my plants are from seed and this spring reminds me that I should absolutely start a few new batches and maybe make another attempt to clear out the ones which don’t thrill me as much as they could.  To be honest I find it more exciting to experience the surprise of the first flowers opening on a new batch of seedlings than to have a reliable, amazing, purchased plant that comes back faithfully each year.  I don’t know if that speaks well of me, but I do like seeing the new!

hellebore goldfinch

Variation in plants, all of these are seedlings from the yellow hellebore ‘Goldfinch’ but maybe only one in ten resembles the parent.

Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll be able to experience the best of both worlds with both new seedlings and also reliable returns…  that is assuming the weather continues to warm.  As I write it’s snowing again and spring is apparently having a little bit of stage fright.  I’ll try to keep things optimistic though, so I’ll leave you with one last favorite.

pulsatilla vulgaris

A pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris).  Each year I try to get a few more seedlings out of the seed exchange offerings but my success so far has been pretty bleak.  This pot did well enough though, and if pushed I may admit to liking the fuzzy stems even more than the actual flowers.  

Have a great week.  Hopefully the sun shines and even if it doesn’t at least there’s finally some hope for the 2018 season.

29 comments on “I Knew I Could, I Knew I Could

  1. Be still myheart! The corydalis are my favorite little groundcover in Spring!

  2. I see what you mean about the Corydalis. They’re fantastic! Must see if they’ll grow in NC.
    Pulsatilla vulgaris is a new one for me. Time to go googling.

    • bittster says:

      Hmmmm. So far we’ve got leucojum and corydalis on the list. I think that’s an excellent start!
      I’m not so optimistic about the Pulsatilla, I lost one last summer in what I’m guessing was the wet summer.

  3. It was great to see all your flowers. We had the same warm weekend you did, except here it wasn’t as warm and now it’s gotten back into a cold spell. Some day my spring will come . . .

  4. Pauline says:

    So glad you had a taste of spring, I hope it soon stays with you permanently. Your corydalis are beautiful,I’ve never seen any seedlings on my Beth Evans, maybe she needs splitting to get new vigour into her. My purple one seeds around and the seedlings are all different colours, must keep my eyes open for a white one.

    • bittster says:

      Good luck on finding a white corydalis. I ended up buying one since I have yet to see a seedling come up in that color. Maybe I just need to have more patience!

  5. Christina says:

    Your weather is even more extreme than I thought, going from 26°C to having snow is frightening! Love all your spring flowers. I should try to get seed of the pasque flower, if might do quite well here or does it need chalky soil?

    • bittster says:

      I bet there are pulsatillas which would do well for you. My soil is on the acid soil and heavy, but there are several different varieties and I bet you could find one which won’t mind your hot, dry summers.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I only have the native corydalis. I love the way it seeds around. Your collection of the fancy colors does give me the wants. My hellebores have given me a couple of white ones. This seemed odd to me until I read here that you have unreliable seedling colors. Despite the snow and heavy frost of the last two days I am looking forward. I will not complain, I will not complain….

    • bittster says:

      I think we made it 😉 . The heat last week seems to have put us over the line and my fingers are crossed for an excellent season! You’re a little ahead of me but even here the long range looks hopeful for no more freezing weather, and I’m fine with that 🙂

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Your Corydalis is so beautiful. Glad spring showed up at your door. The wild temperature swings are weird but more and more common it seems. Impressive that you grew the hellebores from seed.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, it doesn’t seem like we ever had so much up and down temperatures in the past, especially during winter. I don’t think it’s a good thing, even if our average temperatures have increased and I’m getting to grow new things…

  8. Indie says:

    Oh, the Pasque flower! Gorgeous! I am still waiting for our spring show to really get started, but the earliest daffodils are opening up. You have such a pretty bunch of Corydalis, and how exciting to see what new varieties show up from just seeding around! I had some hellebores, but either the rabbits or the groundhog kept eating them last year (and here I thought they were fairly critter proof?), so I’m not sure if they are coming back. I moved them but forgot where…

    • bittster says:

      I hope your hellebores have turned up by now! I move things constantly and so often lose a plant or have two come up in the same spot. Funny that you can think you found the perfect spot for a plant once, and then find it again for another plant and then another. I guess that’s one of the hardest thing about planting dormant bulbs!

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    Your spring garden is certainly a happy place to be, Frank! I’ve never seen corydalis looking so well. You’ve got my mental wheels turning.

    • bittster says:

      The corydalis held back for the first few years, but now have really taken off. Most everything else can compete with them, but if they were a little taller or thicker I might be worried about invasiveness.
      I bet those mental wheels are going to churn something awesome out, ket me know if you’d like a few spare bulbs!

  10. Peter Herpst says:

    What a difference a couple of days of heat makes! Your garden is looking terrific! Here, we’re happy to have a break in the nearly-constant rain of last week and temperatures higher than 50 degrees.

    • bittster says:

      I think most true gardeners will find something to complain about as far as the weather goes just about every year. It’s part of the job!
      Even with our perfectly watered summer last year, I’m already finding myself complaining about a few bulbs which must have rotted away from all the extra moisture. Right now I’m complaining about the awful wind… maybe I should look back at a few snow pictures…
      Haha, yeah, no.

  11. rusty duck says:

    Your corydalis do so well. I have just tried ‘George Baker’ again, in a slightly shadier spot this time. I would love to get to the point it needs dividing!

    • bittster says:

      Surprising! I would have thought this plant would love your garden. It’s almost invasive in spots here, and I guess sometimes even I get a little lucky 🙂

  12. This makes me eager to get home for the weekend (I am on the road). You’re well ahead of where we were at on Monday – everything was covered by a new inch of snow.

    • bittster says:

      I guess this comment is a little old, since on the latest check-in to your blog you were mentioning the heat! Lets both cross our fingers that the snowy weather is behind us now.

  13. Do those Corydalis die back in the summer or does the foliage remain? Everything looks gorgeous and has me aching for our snow to melt.

    • bittster says:

      Well you got your wish! Snow is gone and you’ve been thrown right into the first bits of summer 🙂
      Spring will be back though, and I need all the cool weather I can get if there’s any chance I get as much as I want moved and divided!

  14. Annette says:

    Hi Frank, haven’t seen you in a while especially as I’ve left Facebook and I’m delighted to see your spring garden! My eye fell straight away on Purple bird – wish it’d sing in my garden 🙂 A friend gave me seedlings of C. ochroleuca which is very pretty too and seeds about when happy, so we’ll see. So much to cherish at this time of year. The summer-like temperatures put a quick end to the spring bulbs around here. It’s a funny sort of year. The weather turned me into a chancer and I’ve planted my tomatoes already…hope I won’t live to regret it! Happy spring days 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Oh my! You’ve already put tomatoes in! Now I wasn’t expecting that 🙂
      Yes you are quite a bit further than we are but you know how fast things catch up here. Within just a few days the daffodils have peaked and now the tulips are coming up full force. I even see buds on the iris and it was only just a few days ago that I noticed the first foliage.
      I should really take a few days off from work just to make sure I don’t miss anything 😉
      I bet your pool is even ready for business. We still have three weeks before getting that going and of course I’m looking forward to it!

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