Like the Little Train That Could

I have faith in March this year.  I think he’s a changed month and there will be none of the shenanigans he usually throws our way in terms of weather extremes and spring crushing snow loads.  I think.

snowdrops and winter aconite

Up by the shelter of the front porch, this clump of snowdrops and winter aconite are always first in bloom… even if for only a few hours between snow melts…

It’s only just the first week of course, and this optimism is based entirely on the few hours between Saturday’s snowfall melting off, the sun coming out, above freezing temperatures for just three or so hours, and then the next snowstorm rolling in Sunday afternoon.  I was quick to run out though and take a few pictures while the flowers were also feeling optimistic.

hamamelis diane

I went ahead (perhaps foolishly) and planted out the new witch hazels in whatever decent, unfrozen, spots I could find.  This is ‘Diane’ crammed into a spot close to the street.

Most of the garden is still fully winter, but if I crop out the patches of snow and focus on the few patches of early snowdrops, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), and witch hazels, well I guess you can have a little hope for spring.

hamamelis barmstedt gold

Hamamelis ‘Barmstedt Gold’ a little further down the border with the earliest snowdrops to appear in the open garden.  ‘Gerard Parker’ is the name of the snowdrop in case you’re wondering, and yes, I still need to do a little cleanup here…

This is the time of year which consists of me shuffling back and forth between the same few spots and poking and prodding every last shoot in an attempt to get them to sprout faster.  I doubt it helps, but on a “warmer” day I’m out there way more than the weather deserves and I’m sure it rolls some eyes.  My neighbor refers to it as ‘you’re out taking pictures of dirt again, aren’t you’ season, and that always reminds me that I should really find a more private spot in the backyard to raise these plants.

galanthus diggory wendys gold

Also in front amongst the shelter of the foundation plantings, galanthus ‘Diggory’ is just coming in to  bloom with ‘Wendy’s Gold’ behind.

The thrill was short-lived.  We ended up with about six inches and although it’s pretty and not all that cold I won’t be sharing any of those pictures.  Im huddling indoors and for my plant-fix it’s back to the snow-free, yet underwhelming winter garden in the rear of the garage.

growing under lights

The last of the woodshop nonsense is finally out of this area and I’m making it 100% plants.  Nothing too exciting going on, but new seeds and cuttings are exciting enough for me, and I’ll show more of that in time. 

So just a couple more days and I’m sure March will be showing his more personable side.  I don’t think I’m asking for too much, just no hailstorms or blizzards this year please.

On a side note, this upcoming weekend (Saturday, March 9th) marks the third annual Galanthus Gala, hosted by David Culp of Downingtown Pennsylvania.  This event is sure to thrill snowdrop lovers and plant lovers in general, and is normally one of the highlights of my late winter snowdrop-a-thon.  Alas this year I cannot attend, and the thoughts of missing out on seeing friends and browsing sales tables and talking gardens would have me depressed if I happened to dwell on it too long, so I won’t.  I will just recommend that you should go if you can, stop by, rub elbows with the garden obsessed from the US and beyond, sit in for a few talks, and maybe leave with a few new goodies.  I hear that besides a healthy supply of snowdrops and such, there will be even more hellebores and also a nice haul of witch hazels this year.  Perhaps my wallet will appreciate missing out on more witch hazels but I’m going to be a little crabby about that for a while.

In any case, all the best for March and have a great week!

27 comments on “Like the Little Train That Could

  1. You had bare ground, and spots unfrozen enough to plant shrubs? I’m envious. However, we in the Highlands had only about 3 inches of snow overnight. Enough to close school, though, of course!

    This may be heresy to admit on YOUR site, but I believe I love the winter aconite even more than the snowdrops! They’re so very sunshiney! (Please don’t unfriend me, LOL!)

    I think I need some witch hazel. The deer probably agree with me.

    Well, at least the light outside has changed–there’s definitely a more spring-like quality to it! It does give one some hope, even when one is all too familiar with the shenanigans March can pull!

    • bittster says:

      The ground thawed out last weekend, before this latest return to winter. But that was just Sunday, all last week though… at least it’s not a completely muddy mess when it’s frozen solid, right?
      You need winter aconite AND witch hazel! The aconite is poisonous and word is the deer don’t like witch hazel… which I’m not sure how much I would trust, but it does manage to grow in the woods around here, and there are plenty of deer as well.
      You could add a few snowdrops to go with the other two… it’s only fair!
      I think the clocks might even change this weekend or next, and yes, the sun is stronger and even on the coldest days the birds are starting to sing in the morning to greet it. I think we might be in good shape after all!

      • jane golas says:

        I know a place where there are thousands of Eranthis, even ones with pale yellow flowers which I have visited for over 2 decades to catch the bloom and fragrance. There are also deer. It does not look like the deer eat the Eranthis, as other plants are heavily browsed.
        philly suburb

      • bittster says:

        Hi Jane, I think I know the place, and yes, the deer nibble just about everything but the eranthis and snowdrops remain untouched. I wish they would eat a little more of the bittersweet and Norway maple. Maybe some Japanese knotweed as well!

  2. Christina says:

    We all do it; a few hours of warm sunshine and we convince ourselves that spring has arrived, but we wouldn’t be gardeners if we weren’t optimistic, would we?

  3. This made me chuckle: “‘you’re out taking pictures of dirt again, aren’t you’ season.” I’m sure the folks who drive by my house think the same thing, and I’ll be out there doing it again as soon as the snow melts.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I had a neighbor stop to tell me I wouldn’t find any flowers to take pictures of at this time of year. ha.. I informed him that I take pictures of the garden at the beginning of every month, flowers or no flowers. I have had winter aconites before. Instead of multiplying they died out slowly. I have had rabbits eat my Witch Hazels. Rabbits are pests. They will eat anything in my garden. Your garage nursery looks interesting. Is it heated? I hope you enjoyed your snow day. You probably won’t get many more of those this year.

    • I’m cursed with rabbits here too and was wondering whether they consider witch hazels ‘food.’ It does seem as if many plants that are deer resistant are likewise unpalatable to rabbits but not always.

    • bittster says:

      Funny you mention snow days. We just had one (hopefully last) day off Friday, and now it’s high time for this stuff to go. Maybe when the snow is gone the rabbits can finally start eating my crocus rather than the blueberry stems…
      The garage nursery gets some heat from the furnace room, and it’s just enough to keep most of it above feezing, except on the coldest and windiest nights.

  5. Peter Herpst says:

    Your new witch hazels look marvelous among the snowdrops! Sorry you’ll be missing the sale this year. Here’s hoping for a mild March – Come on spring!

    • bittster says:

      I stuck my head in the sand long enough, and it looks like tomorrow will be the start of warmer weather. It’s about time, March wasn’t quite as mild as I was hoping for!

  6. Amy Olmsted says:

    I’m so sorry to miss meeting you this weekend at the Galanthus Gala!! I’m going to see what the fuss is about snowdrops…..I just haven’t gotten that excited about them…..yet. You have inspired me to add some witchhazel to my gardens with the photos of yours….they are gorgeous and I bet smell like heaven!

    • bittster says:

      I’m sorry I missed you as well, and I hope you avoided catching the snowdrop bug! You have so many other cool things already, but I sense a weakness. You seem to like the ones at work a little too much to not start adding bunches to your own garden!
      You did get a bunch of awesome hellebores though 🙂

  7. You have inspired me with those witch hazels, for sure. I’ve been toying with the notion of doing my driveway-side strip in tones of reds and burgundy year-round and was thinking about the ‘Diane’ witch hazel because I think that’s supposed to be the reddest? Some images make it look super-red but in others it’s more of an orange. What’s your take on the color?

    • bittster says:

      Haha, you’ve asked the wrong person about color! I think it does have a bit of orange in it, but the photo is pretty accurate so it depends on how much you can tolerate. There were a few purplish witch hazels as well, maybe something like ‘Amethyst” or “Birgit”? They’re not as showy at a distance imo but they do fit your color category. Just keep in mind they might hold on to their leaves. No one has convinced me so far that they know why this happens…
      -and btw someone told me rabbits will eat what they can reach

  8. Cathy says:

    Your witch hazels look very much at home already and really do cheer up a winter garden. The photo of your snowdrops shows very clearly just how different they can be. Hope your snow gives way to some mild spring days that stick around. We seem to be stuck in that ‘in-between’ time… no snow, but still quite cold and very little happening in the garden, despite a fair bit of sunshine.

    • bittster says:

      Two weeks later and we’re also still in that ‘in-between’ time! More snow yesterday and this morning but I hope it melts before noon… and hoepfully doesn’t crush the snowdrops any more since they’ve really reached their limits with this weather!
      Hope spring has reached you as well 🙂

  9. Early snowdrops, winter aconite, and witch hazels!?! Oh my, I’m doing something wrong because there’s zilch here. My few snowdrops don’t even have green shoots poking up through the frozen earth. So.o.o I’m putting in an order for witch hazels! That’s a start. I planted one some years back but put it in the wrong spot — near a deer trail. I won’t make that mistake again. Your winter garden is fabulous! P. x

    • Just read the other comments. Deer definitely ate my witch hazel — I caught them red handed. But they were young shoots — maybe when they are established the deer leave them alone.

    • bittster says:

      I hope you were able to find a witch hazel to order, they really go a long way in lifting those late winter spirits. Well actually with a new pony I suspect your spirits are well on their way to lifting!
      I hope next week we finally see some springy things. It seems like this last bit is extra painful 😉

  10. I love the look of your new witch hazels. Our snow is almost all gone, and the Snowdrops could conceivably bloom within a few days. So things are looking up.

  11. You have G. Diggory! That’s on my list for next year. And Wendy’s Gold. They look so good in your garden as does the lovely H. Diane.

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