Even though most of the long range forecasts hinted at a shift to colder weather, I’m 99% sure it’s because of the leap year. I haven’t filled in all the gaps in my new theory but Saturday was much colder than I think we deserved and I bet it would have been a much nicer day if it were March 1st rather than February 29th…. unless that’s not the case. Come to think of it February wasn’t all that bad this year, with a couple days in the 50’s and plenty in the 40’s to counteract the odd 4 degree night. Much warmer than normal and practically snow-free, and that made for some wonderfully early snowdrop visits.
First on the list was a visit to an open garden on Long Island NY. I was in the area to visit my parents and with beautiful sunshine and warm weather in the forecast it just made sense to drag mom out to look at drops. Dad has learned his lesson on previous colder visits so he wisely stayed home, but even he would have enjoyed the location and warmth.
This is the same garden my friend Paula and I visited last year (nearly a month later btw), and this visit made me realize how spoiled were were the first time. We had our host nearly all to ourselves that time, and all the stories and tips and conversation made the time fly by too quickly. This time even though we had to share him with the other groups flowing through, we were still able to catch a glimpse of several treasures and check out what the new season brought.
This garden has clump after clump of rare and special snowdrops, so it takes a while to inch through the plantings, but as we got around to the end the healthy clumps of “wild” ‘viridapice’ scattered all through the hedges and shrubbery reminded me that the tried and true also has incredible value.
Come to think of it I may have to order a few more ‘viridapice’ this year when I send in my wish list. Earlier orders are well on their way to clumping up here and if you’d like to do the same, check under sources on my snowdrop page for the owner’s email address.
For as pleasant and warm as our February snowdrop visit was, the fake February visit I made yesterday was a far different experience. On a day which should have been March I set off to the Philly area to meet with my friend Paula for our traditional snowdrop tour. Cold it was. And windy. It was ridiculous to stand out in the wind and cold for nearly three hours but we did, and I’m not sure who was to blame.
Normally Paula and I have much more adventurous spring snowdrop agendas but this year she abandoned me to take on a big overseas adventure in the UK amongst more ancient and vast snowdrop gardens. Just catching up on that alone took most of the afternoon!
The garden was filled with enough other distractions to compete with the trip stories. Snowdrops are nice but the hellebores were also coming up all over, and the mix of colors made me grateful there are plenty of fantastic gardens on this side of the Atlantic as well.
I also had an experience which shook me a bit. There’s a leafy evergreen perennial called the Japanese sacred lily (Rohdea japonica) and although some people go absolutely nuts for them, paying thousands of dollars for special forms, I have remained entirely immune to any desire to grow them. Then I saw Paula’s. It was kinda nice.
I’ll have to be careful the next time I’m around Edgewood Gardens. John Lonsdale has a nice variety of them scattered across his hillside and what harm could a second look do, but in the meantime let’s think about cheaper plants. Galanthus worowonii is a species snowdrop which can be had for a few bucks a bag and in general is nice enough, but not much of a bloomer for me. Then I saw a nice bunch at Paula’s. Out of all the many goodies this is the one I was interested in, and I think you’ll see why.
So now I’m thinking of more unnecessary plants to try, Might as well add another. Winter jasmine (Jasmine nudiflorum) is a floppy, messy, wanna-be shrub that sometimes identifies as a vine. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s as fragrant as its cousins (it’s not), but it is a surprisingly floriferous late winter bloomer that doesn’t mind freezing more than it thaws. I see it listed as hardy to zone 6, so I may poke a stem in here (it roots easily wherever a stem touches down) and give it a global warming try.
Hmmmm. It seems like I’ve mentioned quite a few new things to try out this year, and there have only been two garden visits so far. Luckily it’s March and even though the month is a day late in coming, flipping the calendar means one really important thing which you may or may not know about. It’s the month of official snowdrop events, and next Saturday, March 7th is David Culp’s Galanthus Gala. From 10-3 Downington Pa shall transform into the epicenter of rare snowdrop sales, hellebore offerings, uncommon plants, and a celebration of all types of plant nerdery in general. Alan Street of Avon Bulbs will be offering two lectures and I suspect many plants will find new homes that day. Admission is free, but pre-sale entry and the lectures will require ticket purchase. All the cool kids will be there and hopefully I can sneak in as well.
Hope you have an excellent week. March does have its benefits, and hopefully one of them is warming temperatures. Not an insignificant point since it took me about 8 hours to warm up again after trying to pull off a garden visit in Fake February.