The wait

The wait for spring has begun, though the target is not in March but a day in February when witch hazels and paperbushes are flowering, when daffodils are pushing above ground but there is no hurry for them as snowdrops and eranthus are flowering. From this day there is sufficient activity to occupy the gardener’s time, to replenish his optimism.

Today, the small blooms of the Vernal witch hazel are opening, and a few clumps of snowdrops (above) are flowering earlier than expected. A blessing, certainly, but spring seems so far away. And yes, the worst is still to come. There will be ice that threatens to topple trees in the forest that borders the garden, snow that bends long canes of nandinas, and cold that could ruin buds of spring blooming camellias (below).

The immediate concern is watching the expenditures that are adding up quickly. There is a potting table for the greenhouse, scheduled to arrive next week, and seeds of several climbers that will be started in the greenhouse, then encouraged to ramble through shrubs for summer color.

Increasing the collection of Solomon’s Seals is a regular part of winter ordering. These are sturdy, and well suited to much of this shaded garden, but some are slow to become established and spread.

Already, more than a few small shrubs, perennials, and ferns have been purchased from a variety of sources, but with no single order substantial enough to take efficient advantage of delivery rates. As usual, I’m surprised once the tab is calculated. I’ve no doubt that ordering online I’m more likely to say yes. In the garden center I’m more deliberate, and more likely to put a purchase off for later.

I’d rather see what I’m buying, to be sure it’s sturdy and a good value, but this doesn’t happen when ordering online. In fact, I know the plants will be puny and overpriced, but this is the cost of needing to acquire ones that are out of the ordinary and grown in small quantities.

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