Pick a day

True to its name, Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa, below) flowered just in time for last weekend’s snow. Unfortunately, the snow was deep enough to hide the blooms, and when it melted the flowers were on the decline. Such is the garden in March, with daily additions that come more quickly than the subtractions, and except for the few interruptions of severe freezes, the month is glorious.

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) is a minor, but persistent bulb growing at the edge of the forest. In this spot a pile of loose branches was burned a year ago, and a pile of gravel and soil dumped in a heap. Glory of the Snow has seeded through the pile of ash and rubble.

The carpet of Glory of the Snow is much abused, walked on and planted through with little consideration, but with little effect. Its spread down the slope to fill around shallow roots of forest maples has been stunted by overly damp ground, but for a short period in March the blooms are a joy.

The crocus in the shaded front are over, but several dozen planted in a sunnier area planted a year ago in the back garden are at their peak (above). The sunny area should warm up and flower first, but rather than a later variety I assume the tardiness is due to the bulbs being less established. In fact, it hardly matters, but crocus are intended to flower early, as an announcement of spring, and this is slightly late.

Pink and browned flowers are mixed on ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ pieris.

I am surprised that a few days after temperatures plunged to thirteen degrees (Fahrenheit) flowers of several Pieris varieties have turned brown. I supposed that since these typically flower in early March they would tolerate the cold, but wrong again. Other varieties are later flowering, so of course they’ll be fine, and none of this is a problem once the flowers fade.

While buds of ‘Merrill’ magnolia are opening, ‘Royal Star’ is not. It is likely to show color in a few days, but two blocks away one is in full bloom.

I guess that every Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) within a hundred miles is flowering, or even just past, but at the low side of hills to all sides this garden is cold natured, so the buds of ‘Royal Star’ and ‘Merrill’ (above) are just beginning to crack open. ‘Merrill’ is more exposed to the sun, so it flowers first, and the good thing is that the flowers will come after last week’s freezes that surely would have ruined flowers. In this area it is a treat to get four or five days of unscathed bloom before the next freeze, so perhaps the lateness will work for the best.

The hellebores were not bothered at all by the cold and snow except that they were again flattened by the wet snow. All have revived, and it is not surprising that this year (and every year) is the best yet for flowering. There is no harmonious area of a single color. Instead, there are light greens and whites beside dark purples, with pinks and reds in a mishmash that might not be artful, but it is beautiful.

A small area where the first hellebores were planted years ago has become noticeably damp in recent years, with several of the oldtimers suffering, and I was concerned that a handful might be lost. But, most are flowering and it appears only one or two have declined. I’ll probably pop something else into the small space where they have thinned.

The fully opened flowers of camellias have turned a horrible brown along with many half opened buds. These are fairly easy to remove, but I rarely do, and since mild temperatures quickly followed the freeze there are many more flowers of red and pink. I wonder what will flower tomorrow?

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