Evidence of spring’s approach

Evidence of spring’s approach is scant, typical for this part of Virginia in late January, but of course, less than hoped for. Without a doubt, the winter hiatus from the garden’s chores is appreciated, three weeks seems adequate, and now I’m anxious for winter to be over. But, wishing doesn’t make it so.

Flowers of ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia are past peak, but there should be color a week or two into February, several weeks later than usual.

While flowers of typical winter blooming mahonias (above) and witch hazels are present, and the first blooms of snowdrops (below) are nearing their peak (with others barely breaking ground), progress is slow for late winter bloomers that occasionally flower weeks early in a mild winter. Swelling flower buds of hellebores, paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha), and Leatherleaf mahonias (Mahonia bealei) are closely monitored in winter’s second half, sometimes daily, begging encouragement as winter drags on.

Early flowering snowdrops emerged in bloom from melting snow. Others will not flower for weeks.

There is often grave concern by less experienced gardeners when foliage of daffodils breaks ground in mid-winter, or with a scattering of yellow forsythia blooms, but rarely is any harm done. While there are no forsythias in this garden, the similar Winter jasmine is expected to flower in the next few weeks. And, as one snowdrop after another flowers, hellebores will begin blooming by mid-February (hopefully earlier), then there will be one after another until spring finally arrives. This week, spring seems far off, with perhaps the worst of winter still to come. But, the garden gives subtle clues  of the change of the season.

Vernal witch hazels will be closely followed by hybrids, which will flower into early March.
Flowers of hellebores remain tightly wrapped, but show increasing color.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    Over here in Culpeper, daffodils & Snowdrops are up about an inch, & I noticed yesterday that 2 of my deep burgundy Hellebores have flower buds just starting to poke up.

    1. Dave says:

      In Warrenton, a very early variety of snowdrop that has flowered at this time since it was planted is now flowering, with others not even close. With dozens of varieties of hellebores, some have genetics of the Christmas rose, which can flower in December. In recent very mild winters these would have flowers in December and early January, but the ones in the photo have stayed at that stage for weeks. I expect it will be two weeks before any begin to flower, if temperatures stay average or warmer after this week’s cold. Some other hellebores will not flower until March no matter how mild the winter.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Daffodils are in full boom for us, but are also a sore subject today. There was a particularly big but late clump of them in the Park. The flowers were just beginning to open; but some bratty kid tore them all apart while his mother watched.

    1. Dave says:

      Interesting. We encouraged our kids to get outdoors, which they did, but they caused little damage in the garden One set of dogs were diggers, so only once did we have moles. They occasionally broke a branch, but less damage than wife does in a day with her pruners.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Like my Pa says when a seagull poops on the windshield, “Aren’t you glad cattle don’t fly?” Children, wives and dogs are not as bad as the wildlife that some must contend with.

    2. Bonnie C. says:

      It never ceases to amaze me what damage people will allow their spawn or their pets to perform on public or even private property. Quite sad, as well as a serious comment on the mindset of far too many people these days.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        The parents anger me more than the children. The children just do what is natural for them. Parents who do want to raise them properly probably should not have children.

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