They say it’s spring, I don’t agree.

 

easter table decoration

Easter decorations

All the signs are there, the calendar, the birds, the rabbits, the plants, but one thing is missing. It’s still crappy grey windy weather and I don’t feel like spring at all. In fact after a snow day this week, I’m expecting another on Monday when another 2-4 inches comes our way. Hardly the weather of egg hunts and daffodils, but there’s not much you can do about it. I suppose the silver lining is once things start going it will be so late the threat from late freezes shouldn’t exist…. but you never know.

Every time the snow receeds (the sun when it does come out is pretty strong) the plants that reappear seem to have grown a little more.  The cyclamen coum is really taking off now in spite of the cold, and the winter aconite wins the distinction of being a flower so early it’s actually now over for the year.  My cyclamen picture doesn’t really capture the glow these early cottoncandy colored flowers give off on a grey day.

hardy cyclamen coum

A few hardy Cyclamen coum in the garden

Crocus are trying, and on the first warm day will burst out fully opened.  It amazes me how these flowers seem to explode into bloom when the temperature rises.  The snow crocus are first with yellows and creams and smaller flowers, the bigger dutch hybrids are a little later with dark purples.

Yellow species crocus

Yellow species crocus

We will see this spring how my crocus lawn is developing, it’s a bit sparse right now but I see lots of sprouts and I’m hoping more will show.  Here’s the only lawn picture I got before the rabbits nibbled off every single bloom.

Purple dutch crocus hybrids

Purple dutch crocus hybrids

A sheltered spot near the house has the first hybrid crocus ready to bloom.  The other ones planted in the open garden are barely just appearing through the mulch.

For all the complaining, spring is not much later than average.  My less than scientific investigation puts us maybe a week behind a normal year.  I’ve kept records of bloom dates for a couple years and like looking back to see what’s up and what’s missing.  My records should be more organized and I should plan a little better but this is about all my procrastinating self can handle.  Right now I feel like I’m already behind and should have more seeds started and more cuttings rooted, but you know how it goes, you’re either much too early or (for me at least) much too late.

seed exchange packets

seed exchange packets

I guess it would help if I stuck with the plan and didn’t take advantage of the surplus round of the North American Rock Garden Society’s seed exchange.  Here are 40 more packets waiting for me to do something with them.  Did I need them?  Of course not, but who can resist giving excess seeds a home and only spending $10 dollars doing it?

So in the meantime I’ll start the peppers and tomatoes and stick with the indoor gardening.  Under lights the onions are coming along, the snowdrops are starting to yellow and the cyclamen coum is still showy.  Two months of indoor color during the dullest time of the year is pretty good in my book!

seedlings under lights

Onion seedlings coming along under the shop lights

The Winter Garden

 

growing under lights

Gardening indoors

A winter garden usually means something a little fancier than my shop light setup that sits in the back part of the garage.  Hellebores, evergreens and snowdrops could fill a corner of an outdoor winter garden, a nice glass conservatory planted with camellias and clivias would be a perfect spot for a January morning cup of coffee,  even a couple southern windows with a flowering lemon tree and a couple amaryllis is nice….. but this is all I’ve got.  It’s better than nothing.

The cyclamens love the cooler temperatures of the garage.  I keep some of my babies here, the ones that I didn’t get around to planting out or ones that I wanted to “keep close” for another year.   Right now the cyclamen coum are blooming.  Here’s one grown from  Green Ice Nursery seed.  The mother plant was collected in Russia, and I think it’s cool that my little plants are only one generation removed from the Russian wilderness.

Cyclamen coum seedling

Last year’s Cyclamen coum seedlings

Seedlings for the next generation of Cyclamen hederifolium are also coming along in the winter garden.  They were sown last winter, didn’t get enough of the cold they wanted, sat all summer and then finally sprouted in the fall.  I could have left them outside but they take up barely any space and I can check up on their progress any time I want.

cyclamen coum seedlings

Various hardy cyclamen seedlings

Cyclamen Coum….. indoors

Cyclamen coum under lights

Cyclamen coum in full bloom under the shop lights

In a way it defeats the purpose of growing a hardy cyclamen if you grow it indoors, but on a cold day like today indoors wins. My winter garden consists of a four bulb flourescent shop light hung over a makeshift table, but it seems to do the trick for things like cyclamen, snowdrops and hellebore seedlings. The cool temperatures of the garage are perfect for these winter growers and assuming their caretaker can handle the responsibility of watering, they should make it through the winter just fine.