Spring thoughts on a winter afternoon

A curious mix of snow, sleet, and ice has again coated the garden, fortunately not to a depth so that it will melt quickly on the first afternoon that rises above freezing. A comparative heat wave is forecast for the coming week (temperatures in the fifties, Fahrenheit) so this precipitation will soon be forgotten. Instead, thoughts will turn to spring, though whining about this horrid ordeal will continue for weeks.

Ice covered berries of ‘Mary Nell’ holly are not easily consumed by robins this afternoon. The bitter berries are never eaten until late winter, and then only by robins that perch in nearby trees, then dart to grab a berry or two.

While hellebores and witch hazels have provided small relief from this prolonged chill, I expect long delayed swelling of flower buds of paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, below) to progress, with the overdue first glimpse of yellow perhaps a week away. Spidery blooms of ‘Arnold Promise’ and other late winter flowering witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) should finally unfold from tightly wound buds to announce the imminent spring.

Slightly swollen flower buds of paperbushes should increase in size and possibly show the first glimpse of color in next week’s warmer temperatures.

Today, I crunch through the icy garden, imaging again where this or that will be planted as soon as spring is verifiably in place. In fact, I’ve never waited so long. I will sneak a plant into the ground in a mild spell in January, but mostly will wait for the presumed start of spring, the first of March. If I plant next week, then temperatures drop far below freezing as inevitably they will at points through March, no harm will come.

Reproductive cones of Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans nana’ show through the light covering of frozen precipitation. In coming weeks the cones will release a cloud of brown pollen when branches are brushed against.
This ice flecked sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis) will soon be flowering, though the fragrant blooms are not showy. Two taller growing Sarcococca wallichii await planting in the greenhouse.
The yellow tipped Fernspray cypress stands at the edge of the frozen koi pond

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lucy says:

    That Mary Nell holly is gorgeous. How long have you had it and do you have a male pollinator nearby?

    1. Dave says:

      Mary Nell has been here at least twenty years. There are another dozen large hollies in the garden, so it’s difficult to figure what the pollinator is.

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