Not so early

Unlike in many area gardens, no daffodils are flowering here, not even the early ‘February Gold’ that typically flowers the tenth day of March, but should be earlier in this very mild late winter. Several times in two decades it has flowered in February as its name suggests, but ‘February Gold’ is now shaded and delayed by a wide spreading ‘Jane’ magnolia.

Yes, foliage of daffodils has been up since January, and flower buds are swelling noticeably. Blooms could begin to show color any day, and they probably will in this week of warm temperatures. But with dozens of hellebores, winter jasmine, and several witch hazels flowering since late January, I am not as anxious as twenty years ago when ‘February Gold’ was the first bloom of the new year.

One of the late flowering hellebores just coming into bloom in late February. Others have been in bloom for weeks.

Much of this garden is shaded, along one border by a native forest, and other parts by a forest of Japanese maples, beech, dogwood, redbud, and others that have been planted in thirty one years in this garden. In periods of ice or snow the garden, at the low point between rolling hills that soon become mountains of the Blue Ridge, is slow to thaw, and then tardy in flowering and leafing in the spring, sometimes a week behind others in the neighborhood.

This, of course, is good reason for planting winter bloomers, so that the agonizing wait for spring is not extended. I am overjoyed with the growing number of hellebores and their obvious vigor, but it is ‘February Gold’ that proclaims the true start of spring.