Is It Spring Yet?

It is, but in early April, the most profuse flowers remain the snowdrops. Squirrels love to rearrange them, but they don’t seem to eat them, and neither do the rabbits, although they did cautiously nibble on one last year.

Snowdrops pop up in unexpected places, like the base of the willow-leaved Amsonia, whose straw forms the backdrop. Photographed on April 1, 2023.

Nearby, the snowdrops have taken their turn as protector. The sole surviving red tulip, Tulipa kaufmanniana, is nestled in a knot of snowdrops. The tulips are apparently quite delicious to rabbits. The rabbits systematically mow them down when they break ground. There used to be a swath of these cheery tulips..

Snowdrops surround the only blooming Kaufmanniana tulip this spring. Photographed on April 10, 2023.

Another species tulip seems to be far less attractive to the rabbits: Tulipa clusiana. These are in the dappled shade on the south side of the serviceberry tree. They get a few hours of direct sun midday. I have another group that get full sun, but  these seem to be happier.

Tulipa clusiana does not open until the sun hits them, unfiltered. Closed, they are red. Photographed on April 27, 2023.

They are very appealing little tulips, only slightly taller than the grape hyacinths scattered nearby.

Tulip clusiana reveals its buttercream interior when the sun hits it. Photographed on May 5, 2023.

The daffodils are blooming somewhat willy-nilly, as the weather is somewhat erratic.

These daffodils, on the south side of the house, opened a few days earlier than usual. Photographed on April 5, 2023.

Less than two weeks later we had a little heatwave, and all the daffodils. except the very last variety to bloom, frizzled in the heat. The magnolia, on the other hand, exploded in bloom. It is Magnolia stellata ‘Leonard Messel.’ Who is Leonard Messel? Leonard Messel inherited the Nymans’ estate from his father, Ludwig, a successful stockbroker who loved to garden. Leonard inherited his father’s love of gardening and the estate; he focused on developing the plant collections. Nymans is now part of the National Trust. 

There were only two or three open flowers the day before this photograph of Magnolia stellata ‘Leonard Messel’ was taken. Photographed on April 14, 2023.

There are other traditional spring distractions, too—bleeding hearts, for example. The bleeding hearts broke ground the last week of March, and were in bloom by the beginning of May. They start off resembling like fat little nappa cabbages, especially the white ones. White bleeding hearts start out the color of blanched celery, but green up to a very grassy green. Red bleeding hearts have distinctly pink leaves and stems, even freshly erupted.

The white bleeding hearts broke ground within a day or so of this photograph. Photographed on March 26, 2023.

Within weeks they are at least knee high, with sweeping horizontal stems with flowers dangling to the end. Bleeding hearts hold well as cut flowers, and add nice volume to a bouquet. They are nice with hybrid tulips.

Bleeding hearts have a nice horizontal reach. Photographed on May 5, 2023.

The white bleeding hearts thrive on the north side of the house, where the sun never reaches. The red bleeding hearts meander along the northern edge of the flower bed, frequently in the dappled shade of a shrub.

Red bleeding hearts; although they are frequently referred to as red, they are hot pink. Photographed on May 5, 2023.

May is always the month to look forward to in the garden; every few days, there is a different floral focal point. As the month progresses from warmish with many native flowers to warm with many traditional garden plants, the color palette shifts to purple with exuberant accents.