Counting the days till spring

– Posted in: Snowdrops, What's up/blooming
1 comment

single crocus just emerging from the earth

Waiting . . . .

I don’t keep consistently good garden records, but one detail I have tracked faithfully since I planted my first flower, is the date of the first bloom around here. For you Southerners who have things blooming throughout the winter, I’m talking about the first visible bloom, when the snow has melted enough for me to see it. One reason why it is always recorded is because it is such a long awaited event. An equally important reason is that there is not much else to do, garden-wise, and writing a factoid down makes you feel like you’ve Done Something.

So, for those cold climate gardeners who haven’t kept records, and for those who have, but are interested in comparing notes, here are the dates of first bloom in Purdyville:

1992 April 14 Dutch crocus
1993 April 8 Dutch crocus
1994 April 5 Dutch crocus
1995 March 15 species crocus (snowdrops on March 16th)
1996 March 25 snowdrops
1997 March 27 snowdrops
1998 March 26 snowdrops
1999 March 17 snowdrops
2000 March 16 snowdrops
2001 March 23 snowdrops
2002 February 25 snowdrops
2003 March 19 crocus
2004 waiting . . . waiting . . .

There are two places where snowdrops show up early around here. One place is right by what we think of as the front door, but is actually the side door. There is a concrete pad leading up to concrete steps, and on the western side of the pad I planted some ‘Sam Arnott’ snowdrops. Since that area faces south, it is melting fairly rapidly. Since it is an area where snow shovelled from the driveway gets piled, there is a lot of snow that needs melting. However, right where the concrete and the flower bed meet, right at the very edge, you can see soil. Frozen soil, I grant you, but soil nonetheless.

The other place where snowdrops bloom early is in the Secret Garden. Currently there is still eleven inches of snow over these snowdrops (yes, I went out with a yardstick and measured) but they have actually bloomed ahead of ‘Sam Arnott’ many years. I believe this is because there is a higher water table in the Secret Garden and groundwater percolates under these snowdrops, effectively thawing the soil even before all the snow melts off them. Often they are well up by the time the snow is gone, and the two patches of snowdrops are often neck-and-neck in the race for first bloom.

I have other snowdrops as well, but they are in places that never lose their snowcover as soon as these others I’ve mentioned. Just as in real estate, location-location-location is the crucial detail. If you don’t yet have snowdrops, look around your property as this winter wanes and see where the snow melts first. That’s where you want to plant your snowdrops.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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Chan S. February 27, 2004, 10:18 am

We’ve got about 3mm of daffodil foliage showing up next to our south-facing foundation next to a concrete patio pad. Just setting themselves up for a early spring hard frost smackdown, no doubt. Good advice on the location-location-location…our snowdrops are currently under the deepest remaining snowpile on our lot, which is north-facing and shaded. Will post pix in June 🙁