A Bit of a Chill

The low last night was 23F (-5C) and tonight promises more of the same, although possibly a little warmer… as if that matters… so I’m going to dwell on the warmer days from earlier this week.  To the relief of many snowdrop season here has ended and we are hurtling forward through corydalis season but not yet fully into daffodil season.  After the highs of the snowdrops it’s almost a lull, but then I looked at the photos.  Not bad at all I thought, although a few more days of snowdrops would have been nicer.

front street border spring

‘Tweety Bird’ is my first daffodil to open making a ‘bold’ contrast to the pinks of the corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’.  

Weird how the sun and warmth melted the galanthus yet hasn’t really brought on much of the other stuff yet.  I suspect it has something to do with the weeks of snow cover and some things growing up through the snow yet others waiting for the melt to happen first.

scilla mischtschenkoana

Scilla mischtschenkoana picks up right after the snowdrops finish, but even in a good year barely flowers for more than a week or two.  One rough week of work sometimes means missing the whole thing!  

It might sound like complaining when I lament how short a bloom season might seem but honestly I bore quickly, so this (with the exception of a quick snowdrop season) actually works in my favor.  There’s always the excitement of a next wave approaching and as long as a hard freeze doesn’t ruin things… hmmmmm…. maybe I shouldn’t yet discount late hard freezes…

pasque flower

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is one of the first perennials to bloom, right alongside the hellebores. 

Pasque (Pulsatilla vulgaris, formerly Anemone pulsatilla) flowers are a full-sun perennial  which I don’t think I’ve ever seen for sale on a nursery bench.  Of course they flower too early for Mother’s Day and don’t last long, and in this age of “does it flower all summer?” the answer is no, and some people just don’t want to hear that.  Actually many sensible gardeners aren’t crawling around their perennial beds yet, and the pasque flower’s early blooms pass perfection so quickly I don’t blame them for not bothering with this plant, but I of course love their fuzziness and optimism against cold and ice and always end up thrilled to see their blooms catching the springtime sun.

pasque flower

Same pasque flower, other side while a cloud passes.

I bet a few early, miniature daffodils in cooling lemon and white tones would be perfect alongside even more pasque flowers.  Other species come in reds and pale yellows and whites, and they’re easy from freshly sown seed and… well I digress again.   

galanthus peardrop

Galanthus ‘Peardrop’ is one of the latest to bloom here.

Sorry for throwing in two last snowdrops. -I was doing so good!

galanthus galadriel

‘Galadriel’ is an elegant beauty with a fitting name.  I should move it to a more open spot where it can be a focal point… hahaha, as if any of those spots are still empty 😉

That’s it for snowdrops.  I hope there’s something equally exciting on the horizon, and I think I have it here with this next sprout.

cold hardy cardoon

A plate-sized eruption of foliage means the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) really is as hardy a sort as promised.  Cardoons have always died away over winter here, so this is mega-exciting.  I guarantee you’ll hear more about it in a month or two! (please ignore the sea of allium seedlings in the background)

Maybe the promise of a year filled with cardoon photographs wasn’t what you were hoping for, but at least I didn’t sneak in another snowdrop.  Here.  Corydalis are also not snowdrops, and after a few years here they’re also not as formally named as the latter.

corydalis george baker

Maybe Corydalis ‘George Baker’.  The plant on the left looks rightish, but the other side of the clump looks a little different.

Honestly I can’t keep my corydalis straight.  Besides being promiscuous they must somehow resent how I try to pamper named cultivars while overlooking equally attractive stray seedlings.  Out of spite the $15 named corm disappears while a sea of seedlings comes up to surround the lonely label.

red corydalis seedlings

Last year the final named form in this bed opted out on renewing for another year.  Maybe it was the weeds, but everyone else seems relatively happy.  

I don’t mind.  They come up, flower, seed, and are gone before I even think about the other perennials and annuals which share this same space later in the year.  Maybe native plant purists and lovers of bare mulch beds will complain about weediness, but just come here I’d say, and I’ll show you some weeds you can complain about.

red corydalis seedlings

Ugh.  One has even jumped across into the next bed.  When I dig a few of the daffodils I’ll try and remember to weed out this corydalis.

I’d like to move a few of the nicest forms into a bed where they can clump up, but so far my clumsy attempts at moving them in bloom has caused more casualties than it has attractive corydalis plantings, but eventually I think I’ll get it.

red corydalis seedlings

Everyone here admires the corydalis.  I’ve been informed this little guy lives under the porch and often comes out to sun himself on bits of trash while admiring the flowers.  Word is he is really looking forward to meeting my friend Kimberley 🙂

So then this….

magnolia in snow

Magnolia are well known for how bravely they endure the ups and downs of early spring…

The weather started to “shift” yesterday.

forsythia in snow

Forsythia ‘Show Off’ which I planted next door.  I’d show you mine but it appears the soil on my side of the property line produces more rabbaliscious growth and as a result it hasn’t broken the four inch mark because of its annual pruning.

And now for a few hellebores.  I dug up a few as giveaways last week and have to say it’s a much nicer way to clear space for even more hellebores than sending them to the compost pile would be.  It would be nice to think I’m “upgrading” but since the new ones are unflowered seedlings, who knows but at least it’s much more exciting to see something new next spring!

double pink hellebore

I think this was supposed to be ‘Pink Fizz’, a single pink, but sadly I ended up with this very un-single flower 😉

I have a little thing for growing hellebores from seed.  A few get planted every fall, and eventually the pipeline is full enough that each spring there are new surprises from the years past.

hellebore seedlings

I believe these were supposed to be a ‘slatey’ mix of seeds.  Kind of average, and not really slate-ish, but still nice for a few springs.

hellebore seedlings

Someone was too lazy to separate this pot of seedlings when planting.  I like the effect!

double pink hellebore

I might have too many of these… a double pink hellebore, maybe ‘Nellie’ from seed I ordered 8 years ago from Australia.  They’ve finally gotten some room and are looking great, but 6 plants of it!?

The hellebores will be fine with the cold.  Most everything will be fine until it’s not, and even then it will likely recover for next year. *yes I’m talking about last year’s lost lily season*

frozen peony

A frozen peony (Paeonia daurica) this morning with other frozen stuff….  all recovered by 2pm.    

I just noticed that the melting peony is back to almost normal.  Maybe now it’s okay to take a stroll and see how everything else has made out, and briefly consider the wind and how likely it is that I’ll do any gardening today.  I actually want to work out there, but with low 20’s tonight maybe I’ll wait one more day before transplanting a few little white bulbs around.  They probably wouldn’t care either way, but choosing patience would make me feel a tiny bit better considering tonight’s cold will likely kill most of the flower buds on the wisteria (again).

Oh well.  It’s always something and if worse comes to worse I know where the Easter chocolate is.

Have a great holiday weekend!

23 comments on “A Bit of a Chill

  1. sallysmom says:

    Love that flowerbed. Do you have a blog post that tells what all is in it?

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I don’t really have one single post to sum it up, it changes from year to year and I’m always tampering with what’s in there! Right now it’s going to be tulips and daffodils, then bearded iris, then roses, butterfly bushes, rudbeckia, and ornamental grasses take over, then a few annual plantings plus cannas and dahlias… then it’s the slide into autumn with asters and sedums.
      Hmmm now you’ve got me thinking I should do a post about it!

  2. Yeah, it got down to 17F last night and probably more of the same tonight, then it warms up again. My hellebores were all bent over this morning but have mostly straightened up, just in time to bend over again tonight. Maybe save me some pulsatilla seeds?

    • bittster says:

      Yeah things look calm after tonight.
      I got to thinking about last springs freeze and this was nothing compared to that. Hopefully we don’t get a repeat in another few weeks.
      Ugh… last year all the melted lilies and stunted iris… I wonder how they’ll come up this year.

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    The pulsatillas are excellent.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Your garden is starting off beautifully, Frank! The hellebores, corydalis and pulsatilla mix well with the yellow daffodils, making a pretty Easter assortment. Have a great weekend!

  5. Cathy says:

    Your garden is amazing, springing from snowdrops to peony foliage and corydalis within the blink of an eye! My peonies are only just peeping out the ground, and only a few brave narcissi are flowering despite some really warm days in between. Lovely hellebores. And the Pulsatilla are fabulous. (I have a couple also only just coming into bud) They are usually up by Easter here so I will check again tomorrow! 😉 Have a great Easter weekend Frank!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Cathy! I know it’s quite late but I hope you had a nice Easter as well, and are maybe past your last freeze. I know I’m ready for spring to really take hold!

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is always fun to see all the blooming plants in your garden this time of year. I have some things blooming too. The Pasquale flower is tempting to me. We seem to be in the same cold swathe of weathers now. I am looking forward to warmer days. Happy Easter and I hope you don’t have to eat too much of that Easter chocolate.

    • bittster says:

      Weird. It seems that for as fast as spring came on, it’s kind of stalled for the last few weeks. Usually I only have time to wander and look at things, but this week I actually did a little weeding. I guess it was necessary!

  7. I want that pasque flower! If it’s a weedy corydalis you want, try C. lutea. Pulled up bushels of it last summer. We got down to 27F and some of the early-blooming daffs ended up fainting.

  8. You have a great collection of spring flowers! Sorry to hear about the cold snap.

  9. So many nice things popping! 😀 I too love pulsatilla and had it in my previous garden on the South Shore. But now I garden on clay which I suspect they would dislike in a very dramatic way. That said, I might think about trying a couple of them at the very top of the “pinetum” (my fancy name for probably the highest ‘raised bed’ available.) I saw a “red” pulsatilla in somebody’s online catalog that tempted me this year, though there is nothing wrong with the usual purple, lol

    • bittster says:

      I might have seen that same red pulsatilla 🙂
      For a while I was trying to get one from seed, but they’ve all turned out purple. Still nice plants though!
      Yeah I’m not sure how they would like your clay…

  10. Darn, forgot to mention a mini narcissus that might be right up your alley, lol. It’s called ‘Xit’ and is described in Old House Gardens’ listing as ““So small, so pure,” says bulb maven Anna Pavord, you might think it’s “at heart a snowdrop but was given the wrong clothes.” It is blooming here now for the first time and it really is adorable (and VERY white, which I love in a daff.)

    • bittster says:

      I thought of you yesterday as I almost ordered ‘Xit’. I’ve heard form other people as well that it’s a favorite, but for some reason I don’t warm up to the smallest ones. I grew ‘Segovia’ which is similar but with a lemony cup instead, and I just never warmed up to it. I think they might be too classy for me!

      • Actually I am now hugely impressed by it, even though I have never been a mini-daff person and thought it would not make any impact. Was I ever wrong! This is a small flower with a big impact, and the white really is pure bright white that stands out against anything. Think Benjamin Moore’s ‘Super White’ paint color, LOL. I think you would like Xit if you tried it. 🙂

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