Happy Spring!

It didn’t take long, and it didn’t take much warmth. Things are popping in the garden. Today’s topic is native spring ephemera; the hallmark of spring ephemera is that they come up early and then disappear completely sometime in the summer. They are also usually very small plants.

Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, are an oddity size-wise: even freshly germinated seedlings are large; they bud in shades from bubblegum pink through mauve, get fairly big very fast, bloom prolifically in a beautiful clear blue, and then keel over. They need to be planted where something even bigger and more distracting will come up because they literally keel over and linger, yellowing, before dying.

A young Virginia bluebell budding up. I suspect it is a second-year plant. The new seedlings have just two leaves, and are 1–2 inches tall; there’s a seedling just peeking in the lower lefthand corner of the photograph.

Continue reading “Happy Spring!”

…and Snow in March

So why am I relieved? We had about 5 ½ inches of snow yesterday, which will protect the plants from the worst of the temperature swings. The bulb part of hardy spring bulbs will survive anything that erratic late winter weather can inflict on them (so far). The flowers may fizzle and sometimes the foliage looks roughed up, but the plants are fine the following year.

Daffodils, finally protected by snow.

The tips of the daffodils are mostly what’s visible today, although there are some leaf tips of dwarf irises poking out here and there. What else is under that snow? Continue reading “…and Snow in March”

Dwarf Irises in February?

Dwarf irises are a neat small flower that normally buds the last week in March to bloom at the beginning of April around here, although not this year; the majority are already blooming. The last time I saw even a hint of buds in February was February 29, 2004.

These dwarf irises were open on February 24. The wispy short plants around this clump are a species tulip.

Dwarf irises are a very nice minor bulb that does not seem to get eaten and spreads slowly, unless the squirrels rearrange them. Our squirrels love to check my work.

The bluebells and the tulips are also up and already struggling under the leaves, so I’ve raked. Dutchman’s breeches do not tolerate leaf cover well at all—which is true of other spring ephemera—but I am uncertain about how those juicy-looking bleeding heart sprouts will do in our current cold snap. Tonight and tomorrow night are supposed to be around 20°F, which seems awfully cold for them.

We are on the late winter weather roller coaster. The weather report says it will hit 60°F on Monday.