Watching the buds swell and open is a big part of spring for a gardener. In some ways, the buds are as wonderful as the flowers, the same way Christmas Eve can be as lovely as Christmas Day–anticipation, excitement, hope … I enjoy looking forward to the flowers as much as the flowers themselves.
Raking, pruning, and clean-up are all part of the fun but really, springtime is about greening and growing! The first picture is of Magnolia x loebneri ‘Donna’, planted on the shady side of the main garden, a little tree which happens to be very special to me. Although it was sadly vandalized last year (some *!@!!%!&! cut off the top 18 inches for a bouquet?!) it has a good number of fuzzy gray buds which will open to large white flowers, some with a tiny streak of red or pink at the throat.
The second picture is of yet another hellebore, this one Helleborus orientalis, the “Lenten Rose”. They are in the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family, taller than last week’s H. niger, and a beautiful dark pink when fully opened. Here’s a picture of the same plant last year on March 17th :
Many buds are still so tightly closed that while I can admire their structure, they don’t shout “Spring!” quite yet. For example, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ … although it’s still more interesting to look at WITHOUT it’s leaves.
Last but not least, a tiny little Iris, Iris reticulata, the only clump with buds so far; the others are just pale green shoots, and anticipation.