February days flow between winter’s cold and the warmth of early spring.
On the warm days one can sense the bustle of life underground and know things are happening.
Hellebores seem weeks late this year. At last some are coming into flower.
I ventured out a week ago, my first garden center trip in two years. To state that in writing seems absurd.
I bought a Euphorbia x Martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and 72 pot-bound pansies for the meditation circle at greatly reduced prices. There were plenty of temptingly fresh pansies but the tired ones are greening up nicely after receiving some attention. They have yet to make an impact from afar, but up close they are strong.
I wonder should the euphorbia be cut back?
One of my favorite ground covers was in stock (and not on sale). I had much luck with Candytuft in the early years of this garden, but of late it is short-lived.
As I await many new fall-planted bulbs to appear, I have seed packets on hand and mail orders scheduled to help fill the garden this year. As February days trend toward spring everything seems possible, even lupines.
Vernal Equinox: March 20, 2021 5:37 am.
Spring officially arrived this morning in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
After a week of severe weather warnings here on Thursday we saw only light rain showers on a day that sadly brought damaging tornados nearby and across the region.
I managed only a couple hours of cleanup this week but it was satisfying to measure a bit of progress. A delivery of mulch scheduled for mid-week is a huge incentive to get busy weeding today.
In fall of 2018 I layered tulip and muscari bulbs in a big blue pot. Last year a few tulips surprised me with blooms but muscari foliage was the bigger surprise. It never died back last summer, nor over the winter. So there is a tangle of leaves with little flowers now beginning to open.
After the winter a crinum lily is lifted way above ground. I read it should be planted with soil up to the neck of the bulb, which it was, but like my daughter who couldn’t tolerate turtlenecks as a child, the crinum didn’t like being restricted either apparently. Is the solution to dump more soil around it? It is already growing new leaves. I also read these bulbs could grow to 20 pounds so getting the planting right early on is important.
I have tentatively identified a mystery plant in another pot as Matthiola incana (Stock). I think I pulled it up last fall by mistake and temporarily potted it until I could get back to it.
There is a very small clump of anemones starting to flower. Even one of these richly colored flowers is impactful when added to little bouquets of summer snowflakes and daffodils which I have been happily sharing with neighbors.
Some of the Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Star’ planted last year but enjoyed only by the rabbits have begun to emerge. The Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is waking up. Spiraea seems very late this year but a few flowers have begun to show.
The hellebores continue to open and now the garden is looking more colorful when viewed more than six inches away.
Before I finish I must mention I am haunted by the recent tragedy in Atlanta. Please keep in your thoughts the Asian women who were targeted and murdered this week. Amidst such suffering in the world we must find a way to bring compassion into our hearts.
Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a productive and exciting spring!
Spring arrived reluctantly this week. It has been wet and even snowed yesterday, with perhaps more wintry mix this weekend. Today the sun broke through to raise spirits, but it still feels too chilly to enjoy working in the garden.
I checked on a a few things this afternoon and in my wanderings was struck by how wonderful the hellebores are this year. Their buds were showing color during the first week of February and by mid-month were blooming.
One that I have had my eye on the past month is at last in its glory. So pleased this one made. It came from Pine Knot Farm two years ago and is flowering for the first time. The three buds remained tightly closed on this hellebore long after its nearby companions had ventured to open, but today I see they are open.
Here are a few more of the hellebores from Pine Knot Farm. Some show their faces easily.
Others are shy, but can be coaxed.
Nope…this one still wants to hide. Red markings outline each petal.
The first ever hellebores in the garden were Helleborus niger, ordered through a neighbor. She was a horticulturist and placed a large order from Monrovia for those of us in our fledgling neighborhood garden club around 2002. The club lasted only about a year, the neighbor moved away after several more, but the hellebores have returned each year.
These are pass-alongs from a Chapel Hill Garden Club friend.
Besides hellebores several other sights made me smile as I enjoyed seeing the garden in the sunlight.
Hope your spring is taking shape. Tomorrow I am headed out for the day to see over 50 floral designs inspired by art works in the collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Have a wonderful weekend!
Though the sun later broke through, the early morning was cloudy and cold when I walked through the garden looking for blooms. Forecasts warn of lows near freezing tonight and temperatures will dip into the twenties later this week. But here it is, March 20, 2013, and today is the first day of spring. The vernal equinox occurred at 7:02 a.m. EDT.
The early blooms of Helleborus have been a highlight since the first week of January.
The garden is waking up but shows no sign of hurry. Among the several patches of Phlox subulata a lone flower is open.
A few little Muscari flowers began blooming this week. These were planted over a decade ago and barely bloomed at all last year, so it is nice to see them again.
Diminutive white flowers are beginning to fill the branches of a Spiraea I brought from my previous garden.
Iberis Sempervirens filled the meditation circle last year but most of what was planted there has died out. I blamed moles but also realize the site may not drain well enough for this plant. Fortunately it is tucked around the garden in other spots, a cheery little plant.
Last fall I finally remembered to add a few more daffodils to the garden. Just opened today is the first flower of the miniature Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete.’ The garden was so overgrown when it was time to plant these bulbs, it was hard to find a good place for them. They were relegated to an old terra cotta pot, which worked out just fine.
Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’ has been blooming beautifully for a few weeks. I love the milky white streak that marks these blossoms.
The day is surprisingly sunny after predictions of snow, but wind and cold prevail. Hellebores are the main attraction in the garden today.
I travelled to the Gulf Coast of Florida this week for a very brief family gathering. While I was away this area had a light snow—the first one this winter and I missed it! Except for a touch of white along the shady side of the road, the snow had disappeared by the time I returned home. As consolation the weather in Florida was beautiful and there were lots of colorful Florida tropical plantings, including Hibiscus, Begonia, Croton and a gorgeous shrub with red clusters of flowers I have since identified as Ixora coccinia.
A quick walk around my garden today revealed a scary number of weeds cropping up in the soggy flower beds. I pulled at a few of them but will have to make serious time to deal with them soon.
After the snow the Hellebores which began opening a week ago appear no worse for the wear. A small patch of Sweet Alyssum seems perky and fresh.
Along the back fence one of a small pair of Italian Cypress trees was leaning heavily into the other. It seems odd that the snow would have done that and I think pesky moles/voles are the culprits. I straightened the tree and tamped down the soil, hopeful the tree has not been damaged.
Near the front of the house Winter Daphne has begun to open slightly, releasing the first drifts of its delicious lemony fragrance for lucky passerbys to enjoy.
Remembering that many plants were on an extremely early blooming cycle last year, I have been curious about what this year’s timing might be like for the garden.
For the last few weeks I have watched expectantly for the first Hellebores of the season and today I finally noticed an open flower.
Last winter (2011-2012) these hellebores bloomed very early, by December 30, 2011, whereas the winter before that (2010-2011) there were no blooms until several days after Valentine’s Day. So they are somewhere in-between this year.
I have never been bothered by the leaves on hellebores, but enthusiasts recommend pruning them before the buds begin forming to make it easier to enjoy the blossoms. Too late to do it properly but today I carefully trimmed away many of the lower, older leaves. They do look tidier after this cleanup.
Growing adjacent to the hellebores and full of buds is a winter blooming Camellia x ‘Coral Delight.’
The garden is saturated from recent rains. I was surprised to see moss growing along the northern side garden where the hellebores and the ‘Coral Delight’ are planted. The high temperature reached a fine 72°F this afternoon, well above the average 54°F for this time of year. The nice warm weather should stay through Monday so I hope to finally tackle some weeding chores I have been putting off.
My time in the garden was brief today, but I did take a few minutes to walk the labyrinth. As I stepped along the path I smiled to note how well the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has worked to supply some year-round interest.
It is seventy-one this afternoon and the clouds move in and out. Earlier, the sun was nice and warm and the several hours spent weeding this morning passed easily.
Suddenly the spiraea is covered in little white flowers, several weeks earlier than usual perhaps. This deciduous shrub is a long-time favorite.
Nearby a recently transplanted plant with two mottled, red leaves is reminiscent of a trout lily, but its identification is uncertain.
Three or four Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) were visible all winter and are starting to grow.
Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) never died back during the winter. The clumps could use division. Transplants from last year look healthy and strong.
Several new Phlox subulata added to the garden a few weeks ago have acclimated well. This one is ‘Purple Beauty.’
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) continue to add color around several areas of the garden. I transplanted a few small seedlings to a shady spot near the back steps.
A row of ‘Chuck Hayes’ gardenias once formed a low hedge along the back border of the garden, but a couple years of drought killed off many. The five that remain look greener and healthier than usual this Spring.
The daffodils are already finishing up their cheerful displays. This one is ‘Flower Carpet.’
Low temperatures in the twenties for the last couple of nights seem not to have damaged the lovely blossoms on the Coral Delight Camellia.
The first flower stems are visible above attractive foliage of the Eastern Red Columbine.
Blooms began in late December and Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) continues a charming display in several sections of the garden. There are lots of new seedlings this year.
Hyacinth and Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) brighten a garden near the front sidewalk entrance.
With temperatures in the forties, yesterday a brief rain fell midday. Walking through the garden afterwards was pleasant as the sun peeked in and out.
Plants are changing quickly, full of hope and promise in this early growth period, as they prematurely signal spring’s arrival. Weekend weather forecasts call for a low of 20 degrees on Saturday, 17 on Sunday and 28 on Monday.
Before the chill arrives, here is a close-up look around the garden.
On this fifty-seven degree sunny afternoon, a mild breeze lifts the fragrance of Daphne odora wafting into the air.
Held up by a very cold winter, last year the hellebores began blooming by February 19 and continued through June 20, 2011. This winter they began blooming a month ago on December 30, 2011.
With its scent noticeable for a few weeks now, the aromatic Monarda didyma (Bergamot, Scarlet Beebalm) is growing. Beebalm is native to this area.
Another native, Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud), is volunteering under the back steps, at least I think this is a redbud.
Magenta Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) will be back in the garden this year thanks to a neighbor who shares my passion for these old-fashioned flowers. The garden is full of white rose campion grown from seed, but for some reason the magenta ones, which had been passed-along many years ago by a dear cousin, had disappeared. Rose campion are not native but generally do well in this climate, reseeding easily.
As the year nears its close the garden proffers a few interesting scenes. The day is sunny and sixty-two degrees. The light entering the garden is low, filtered though trees from neighboring properties.
‘Blue Point’ Juniper
The ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge, installed ten months ago, has a long way to go before it provides privacy and screening. Although they could benefit from some shaping, these junipers are doing quite well. Worth noting, the grass rarely looks so nice as it does today, but having been reseeded in October, it has responded well to frequent and ample rains this autumn.
Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)
The mounds of evergreen candytuft in the meditation circle have been trying to bloom for several weeks now. Weather predictions warn the temperatures will fall drastically next week, so while the flowery show may not last, it does provide a pretty sight for the end of December.
Helleborus Orientalis (Lenten Rose)
Wow, some of the hellebores are already blooming! While the hellebores normally do provide much winter interest, they have not bloomed this early in prior years. Just last February I wrote about my experience with hellebores, noting that looking back through garden photographs since 2006, I had found hellebores blooming in a northern side bed as early as February 24. It would have been easy to walk past them today but I am glad I stopped and peeked inside. There hidden away were these luscious blossoms.