Monthly Archives: March 2011

Nothing but Blue Skies


ismene longipetala

Ismene longipetala, the "Peruvian daffodil"


1. Incredible days of crystal clear weather this past week, making the plants look their best.

2. A song by Irving Berlin, recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Willie Nelson, and everyone in between.

3. The name of a high school senior I know (well, almost; it’s Blue Sky).


4. The title of a book by Tom McGuane (not my usual reading material but he’s Bob’s cousin).

5. Tag for thousands of photos on Flickr.

6. A metaphor for good times ahead…spring is coming!


Cornus officianalis, the Japanese Cornel Dogwood


Don’t be fooled

iris in snow


When it’s 60 degrees in March, don’t be fooled! It’s just a teaser, to make sure we properly appreciate warm weather when it gets here. (That would be May.)

Meanwhile, it makes for a nice contrast with the flowers.


hamamelis in snow


hellebore in snow


walkway with snow

My buds


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.


A great day in March

hellebore with ant

It is a great day when I can see a flower AND an insect AND work outside without my coat… This little ant was crawling all over the same early-bird hellebore that was in the last post. Helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose, is an evergreen perennial in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It flowers here in mid-March, along with these little bulbs —Galanthus, the Snowdrop, and Eranthus , the Winter Aconite, also in the Ranunculaceae. Galanthus, snowdrop flower

eranthus, winter aconite flower

Desperately Seeking Spring

hamamelis arnold promise

“March brings breezes sharp and shrill, Shakes the dancing daffodil.”

I walked through the greenhouses taking pictures of cacti, but I was not inspired. So I went outside in the gray, damp, cold, wet garden to look for signs of spring. I admit it, I’m done with winter…old dirty snow and mud…bleh.

Living near the coast, we have warm autumns and cold springs as the ocean cools and warms slowly.  March is mostly  winter, and  without a doubt, “April is the cruelest month”! but I found a few, just a few, signs of spring today. I looked in the warmest spots, usually those tucked up against a south facing stone or tree trunk or foundation.

erica carnea, winter heath

The daffodils are not dancing yet, but have begun poking up little green leaves. They don’t mind that the temperature can go from 45 degrees to 18 in 24 hours. Good thing! The Witchhazel is really in full bloom, as well as Ozark Witchhazel  (Hamamelis vernalis) in the garden. The Winter Heath (Erica carnea), which the bees love, has tiny white buds showing. And one early – bird Hellebore in at the foot of a big birch tree near a stone wall is flowering before all the others.

What are your favorite signs of spring?