Another week or two and it might be safe to put the snow shovel away. Just call me a cockeyed optimist. But I have flowers blooming all over the place and trees are hazy with the beginnings of new buds. This is my favorite part of the season, at least for the moment.
Because of the cold February and early March, the small spring bulbs are blooming at the same time as the daffodils, though they usually bloom first. It was fun to walk past a patch of tiny green leaves in the morning, and in the afternoon they were a patch of flowering species crocus.
For Easter I was at my daughter’s, 175 miles further south, and grassy areas were full of blue flowers that looked sorta familiar but I couldn’t recognize. The PictureThis app on my phone identified them as scilla. I dug up a couple to take home. But when I got back home, I discovered two huge patches of scillas that hadn’t been there when I left a few days earlier.
In fact many of the smaller bulbs had popped up during my brief absence, among them my very favorite, Puschkinia. This diminutive charmer looks like a six-inch delphinium, or maybe a grape hyacinth only even smaller. Clusters of minuscule blue flowers sit atop six inch stems.
Like many early spring flowers, they spread by reseeding. I’ve had my Puschkinia for a few decades; they have formed a large patch as well as volunteering 40 yards away. I suspect that birds are helping me.
Other early bulbs in bloom right now are my favorite species crocus. (OK, I lied about Puschkinia being my favorite, but I truly believed that two paragraphs ago.) And there are Iphion and grape hyacinths and snow bells, which are already gone, and a couple others whose name has long been forgotten. It doesn’t matter, I still love them.
I have plants that bloom even earlier than the earliest bulbs, helleborus, Hellebors for short. These are regular garden perennials that can bloom as early as late January, but unlike the bright spring bulbs in bright colors, they can go unnoticed. Their colors are mostly muted.
If you want to see them, you have to know where they are and go looking for them. Still, it is a thrill to go out in February and scoop the snow off to see them. For their April blooms, I suggest planting them someplace you pass every day, like the mailbox or driveway.
And then there are the daffodils. No one doesn’t like daffodils, and they are indestructible. Last year I cleared out an overgrown hedgerow and found several clumps blooming in the near dark. They had been there hiding for years.
As I carouse garden centers this time of year, usually at least once I see some hapless customer, who had seen and loved the neighbors’ daffodils, ask for some to plant. Sadly some benighted retailers provide them with a bag left over from last fall, which is pretty much useless.
I take back the nasty things I said; I didn’t mean you, but others who do the same thing.
What you can do though, it is not the best solution, is buy a pot of blooming flowers. After the flowers fade, take them in the kitchen, unpot them, and plant the whole clump out in your garden. They should survive and bloom next year. Potted tulips won’t, but daffodils will. They’re that tough.
Meanwhile I enjoy my tiny blue flowers and await the tulips.