Yesterday I made a point of getting outside for a few pictures before whatever happens happened. Those of you who’ve visited this blog ever probably know that this gardener has more than a passing fancy for snowdrops, and sadly this year the season has passed in a blur with other things and weather taking priority over the hope for idle days in the sunshine crawling from snowdrop clump to snowdrop clump. Instead I was out at night with a flashlight, out in the rain, or wind, or cold, and none of those scenarios make for good picture taking. It happens, it could be worse, and with several clumps disappearing or dwindling this year I guess it was as good a season as any to have fly by. Next year will be perfect I’m sure!
A grainy, just before dark photo of the ‘White Trash’ bed from about a week ago. Galanthus ‘flore peno’ and other “common”, “messy”, and “no special merit” snowdrops fill this bed, and it’s one of my favorite plantings.
We won’t dwell on the weather of course. If a gardener ever hopes to enjoy their snowdrops in this area they need to be prepared for a season which goes from an early spring thaw one week, to frigid temps and snow and ice the next, to overly warm shorts and T-shirt weather for five days, back to snow and a hard freeze. I can always stay inside, but the snowdrops can’t and sometimes end up a little beaten down.
A nice galanthus nivalis with just the tiniest green mark inside. Someday I hope to find an albino, but for now this one keeps me happy.
So here’s where the survivors are at. For you’re sake I’ll try to write less and photo more 😉
Galanthus ‘Cordelia’ a little sloppy yet hanging on and Cardamine quinquefolia just starting with its pink flowers. A few people have lodged complaints about the cardamine’s spreading ways but it looks like I’ll have to learn the hard way.
I can never speak poorly of big flowers on a non-floppy plant. ‘Imbolc’ is representing and hopefully hangs on for a while during our cold spell.
Galanthus ‘Erway’ has a nice paleness this spring which is fairly normal but not always this pronounced.
I think I show galanthus ‘Moortown’ each spring. He’s such a hefty brute.
My thoughts are always mixed on anything from sharlockii blood, but this one has turned out nice. A Belgium drop with lots of green and inner petals almost as long as the outers.
Please don’t even fall for my woe is me comments on this year’s season. Even a bad one is still better than the suffering my non-snowdropping neighbors are enduring. I see them washing cars and trying to liven up a dead yard with a few plastic Easter eggs and realize that my yard has been bursting with bulbs for the last month and more, and the garden year is already off to a good start. Missing the snowdrops is as much my own fault for not being independently wealthy as it is the cruel ups and down of the weather, and maybe a few less garden visits and ski trips would have also helped. I’ll try to work on that… maybe…
A doubled winter aconite (Eranthis ‘Gothenburg’) flowering for the first time after two other years of ‘no thanks’. Please don’t die now is my reply. In this garden new and hard to find winter aconites like to die the year after finally looking nice.
So now I have nothing to look forward to except hundreds of spring bulbs and sprouting perennials and wave after wave of new color every day! Sure there will be a few hiccups along the way, but still I can’t even imagine things being bad enough to make washing the car a decent alternative.
More bulbs popping up. The unspellable Scilla mischtschenkoana doesn’t ask for much but does fade quickly in anything warmer than sweater weather.
I don’t know how people manage self restraint around all the small ‘minor’ bulbs which could fill their gardens. I mean I do, but there are so many tempting crocus and bulb forming iris and corydalis that I really can’t judge anyone who ends up with a bed devoted to species tulips or spring blooming colchicums.
I vaguely remember these not blooming and me digging and dividing the clump. For a couple days they’ll be amazing and then the next great thing will roll along and I won’t even bother to dig out a label for an ID.
Even for someone who is the definition of restraint, things can build up. If I had any backbone whatsoever I’d mow down seedlings, dig bulblets, divide crowded clumps, and just toss the excess but I’m like one of those people who grew up poor and then for a lifetime can’t throw out a decent pair of shoes or nice cardboard box, or even throw out the last six Easter eggs even though you did manage to eat at least two dozen of the ones the kids dyed. Waste is a sin, and who wastes corydalis seedlings?
Hyacinths, corydalis, crocus, and winter aconite were never planted here. I wouldn’t even know where to start if I tried to return this to the original species peonies, single snowdrop, and Muscari azureum (both white and blue forms!)
Before I leave the subject of restraint, here’s a link to an International Rock Gardener article on >the many species and forms of winter aconite (Eranthis)<. I’m not tempted, but perhaps others will enjoy looking at all the different variations you can plant in addition to the not-common-at-all yellow.
I have no plans to show restraint towards witch hazels. They will be crowded and poorly grown but Hamamelis ‘Aphrodite’ needs more company.
I do need more spring snowflakes (Lecojum vernum). I consider them the messy big brother of snowdrops but they come in yellows and doubles and I’m forced to live with just the species form and that’s been making me sad. Not sad enough to go wash the car, but sad enough to wistfully search for other forms which exist but are separated from me by an ocean and at least seven time zones. I don’t think adding two or three new ones would count as a lack of restraint, it’s definitely more of a widening your horizons kind of thing.
The straight form of the spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum, not the summer snowflake L. aestivum, that’s different!).
Unlike most bulbs, Leucojum actually enjoy a poorly drained soil which doesn’t dry out and will suffer in a drier spot. Think riverbanks and wet meadows, and if you find a spot they like you might as well plant a few snake’s head fritallaries (F. meleagris) since they also like that same mucky kind of spot.
A nice pure white form I found a few years back. It’s a nice thing and nicely complements the “yellow tipped” ones behind them… if only they would stay yellow…
And again I’m going on too long. Let’s just photo along and get through hellebores and the current weather.
The first hellebores are starting. A couple nice yellow seedlings.
A surprise anemone form hellebore seedling. I was hoping for a double, but this might even be better.
Construction continues. Maybe today I’ll bundle up and try and dig out the snowflakes and hostas which probably won’t come up through the two feet of excavated fill, but then I’ll look at the rocks and dirt in the pond and feel guilty about not addressing that.
Yesterday it wasn’t raining and snowing too much (just like last Sunday which was the only other time I’ve been out during the day lately) so I spent a few hours scraping fill off the lawn and hoping that at least half the yard can be sort-of back to normal for the year. For what it’s worth “scraping fill off the lawn” means shoveling wheel barrow after wheel barrow of hard-packed rock and dirt and then trying to find the old turf underneath and then exposing enough with a rake so that it comes back to life. I suspect in another week or two it will be mostly smothered and dead so that’s why I’m trying now. In spite of the biting wind… and on again off again rain showers…. and frequent snow squalls….
The snow stopped melting and the light was fading, so the lawn is as good as it’s going to be.
I might not like it, but most of the garden doesn’t mind a little snow and sleet this time of year. We will see what happens tonight though. It’s supposed to be frigid again.
Back in the day I never even imagined I’d have bunches of hardy spring cyclamen here in the mountains of Pennsylvania but then they happened 🙂
I might look at the pond this afternoon. We will see. The winter garden might be a nicer option with its somewhat warm temperature and lack of an icy wind and gloomy skies. It’s a jungle and I need to trim it back which of course means cuttings since I can’t waste a single shoot. Obviously these will be cuttings I do not need.
A patriotic blend of geraniums, oxalis, and streptocarpella. The blue streptocarpella is much too large.
Cuttings galore and I think I should chop everything first and then see how much I can use afterwards. Right now I’m not sure if the water I throw on this thicket even hits the pots underneath.
The amaryllis have been nice. This is a seedling a friend gave me and I might need a big pot of it, even though it multiplies like a pair of miss-sexed hamsters.
I’m going to have way too many geranium cuttings. What to do, what to do…
…and the primrose seedlings have come along nicely. I can sit at my little table contemplating seed orders all the while enjoying the promise of spring and an occasional wiff of primula fragrance.
So that’s where things are at and I’m hoping for a few less-busy weeks to come. In the meantime thanks for sticking it out and if you’re relieved over the missing snowdrops don’t get your hopes up too much. Cooler weather means the season may stretch out the further north you go and I still haven’t ruled out northern snowdrop visits 😉
Have a great, restrained, week!