How I Defeat Cabin Fever: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day March 2014

– Posted in: What's up/blooming
22 comments

It doesn’t take much to give a gardener hope.

Snow still blanketed the lawn, despite the warmest temperatures of the calendar year thus far. As I reached down to pick up the pot of amaryllis for its photo shoot (see below), I noticed that the snow had melted down to the ground in a strip a foot wide bordering the house. And what to my wandering eye did appear but a bright flash of yellow! Could it be? Yes! The first winter aconite (Eranthis sp.) was emerging from the ground. It wasn’t blooming yet, but the very fact that it was visible was enough.

This was my second sign that mud season had arrived. (The first was the appearance of maple taps along our street.) If mud season is here, then spring is coming. Winter may fight a few more battles, but it has lost the war. Never mind that the very next day more snow fell and covered these flowers up. (Oh yes, by the end of that day three other winter aconites had joined the first.) Never mind that after the snow fell, the temperature dropped forty degrees to single digits (Fahrenheit). Winter is a sham now. It is bluffing.

I won’t say spring is right around the corner, because I concede that we can have significant snowfall in April. And sometimes it takes an eternity for the grass to green up, which means that the earth has finally thawed. But now, however cold and snowy it gets, I know without a doubt it is temporary.

The winter aconites are part of the cabin fever bed I created specifically so that I can watch plants emerge and flowers bloom even on the days when it is too cold, windy, or rainy to be outside. Read about the design of the cabin fever bed and about the plants I chose for mud season. And there is more about cabin fever in the archives.

My Apologies to the Amaryllis

To say I am ambivalent about amaryllis is an understatement. I want them to bloom in January and February. They always bloom for me in March, frequently late March, when crocuses are blooming outside. Once spring is that far along, I rapidly lose interest in houseplants. They can all go dormant until October, for all I care.

Speaking of going dormant, that is another problem I have with amaryllis. The standard advice is to withhold water in the fall to induce an amaryllis to go dormant. In September and October my amaryllis looks way too green and lush to withhold water. This past fall I tried it anyway. It was agony to watch each leaf in turn slowly go yellow and then wither and brown. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and started watering again. But I guess however long I didn’t water, it was enough, because it’s blooming again:

flowering amaryllis

Five flowers this year, I’ll take it.

But I still feel bad for abusing it.

Rounding out this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is the ever-faithful African violet, given to me as a gift over two years ago by a dinner guest. Every time I tend to this plant, I think fondly of that dinner guest, who was perceptive enough to realize I would appreciate it more than a bottle of wine.

humble African violet

It’s been blooming all winter

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

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.

Optimism overrules pessimism because every spring is an opportunity to start again.

~Laurie Lisle in Four Tenths of an Acre: Reflections on a Gardening Life

21 Comments… add one

Mike the Gardener April 15, 2014, 12:33 pm

Cabin fever is an understatement … this has been the worse winter that I can remember … and just when you thought winter was over here in NJ … boom … frost warning tonight.

Weedy March 20, 2014, 11:13 am

You know you are really getting old when you remember that you lived in a place more than sixty years ago. I have not been in Binghamton since 1995, but I lived in JC in 1951. Ithaca is worse. I lived there seventy years ago, my wife lived in Ithaca more than sixty five years ago. There seems to be some kind of homing instinct; we drive to Ithaca and recognize places where we were toddlers. Went one year to see snowdrops at Lyman’s garden. Well I am nattering on. What I started to write is that I slogged out thru the snow to my woods path and found snowdrops in bud. And this is the equinox isn’t it??

Kathy Purdy March 20, 2014, 9:31 pm

Yes, this is the equinox. And I went out to my woods path (which I call the Secret Garden) two days ago and found snowdrops in bud myself. They can take such a long time to go from bud to full bloom, though! Take care, Weedy!

Alana March 19, 2014, 7:52 pm

I walked on the West Side of Binghamton yesterday and I saw not one, but two, different houses with beds that had bulbs peeking through the soil. For me, the first sign of spring is when the birds sing in the early morning regardless of the temperature, and the second is the appearance of the bulb leaf tips. My bulbs, though, haven’t started to sprout. Trying to be patient.

Carol - May Dreams Gardens March 19, 2014, 6:02 pm

Love the amaryllis and the African violet, what would we do without indoor blooms?

Emily March 19, 2014, 5:45 pm

Winter is “bluffing”? Oh you have serious guts, my dear! I’m so afraid of irritating the freezer-gods that I walk around the garden saying (in my best, most humble voice), “Spring sure looks to be a long-ways off. Yup. Not arriving any time soon!” as I dig in another plant I couldn’t resist buying a local nursery. And now I absolutely have to get some winter Aconites. Nothing like a little bright yellow against the snow.

Weedy March 19, 2014, 4:53 pm

We got hit with a snow storm last week, this week I got stuck in the mud in my driveway, my wife and Me both caught a stomach bug that turned to diverticulitis in her case and I have had all the winter I can endure. Winter aconites always die for me and every year I manage to walk by a yard by a walking trail where nearly thirty feet of aconites bloom—-I turn green and swell up like the Hulk and my wife says she doesn’t want to hear it this year. Or I drive to a nature center where there are acres of naturalized old bulbs including almost acres of aconite and I cry. But when I read the above I went to the back door and the snow has melted away from the house and just today a clump of snowdrops has appeared.And Spring starts Friday even if I still have piles of snow along the dratted muddy drive—I may survive.————Weedy

Kathy Purdy March 19, 2014, 5:37 pm

I sure do hope you make it through, Weedy. I could never get winter aconites going until I got a clump from my sister. They grow so vigorously at the house she moved into that they have seeded into the lawn. I suspect that some strains are more vigorous than others, and that buying corms from a bulb seller is the least effective way to get them going.

Dee Nash (@reddirtramblin) March 19, 2014, 9:43 am

Hey! Kudos for hanging in there. You’re right…winter is bluffing a bit like the wolf at the door huffing and puffing. Hang onto those aconites. Spring is coming. I promise.~~Dee

Jan March 17, 2014, 9:09 am

And I thought 7″ of snow last night was uncalled for…so glad we won’t get any in April! (Sorry for you that spring takes so long!).

commonweeder March 16, 2014, 5:00 pm

Poor planning on my part. No bloom outside of course, and nothing but microgreens inside. I’ll do better next year!

Donna@Gardens Eye View March 15, 2014, 9:28 pm

No strips of bare land here after the last storm. I know there are blooms beneath it all though…hoping to see a few strips with bulbs starting next week.

Frank March 15, 2014, 7:05 pm

No fair! I only just got my first aconite open today and I’m suppose to be a touch warmer down here! Isn’t it a nice sight though? There are also a few snowdrops around the garden, a surprising sign that winter might actually some day take the hint and get lost.
The violet is nice. If I ever did houseplants it would be them…. not too manly a plant, but they always look grateful to be indoors, unlike many of the other things I try to overwinter.

Kathy Purdy March 15, 2014, 7:42 pm

The trick, Frank, is to plant them where the snow melts first. We still have a lot of snow on the lawn, just the foot of ground closest to the house has melted, and that’s where they are.

Michele in Salem March 15, 2014, 3:07 pm

I agree, mud season is a good sign.. your blooms are awesome, love the amaryllis!

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern March 15, 2014, 12:20 pm

Why don’t I have these in my garden?! That’s it, they will be planted come Fall. Here, too, more snow and cold. I won’t venture outside today with the rain/snow mix we are having – rain(!), but just knowing Spring will arrive lifts my spirits!

Kathy Purdy March 15, 2014, 7:45 pm

As an adult, I have had better luck with them as passalongs than purchased online. But when I was in high school I got some on my mother’s dime and planted them on either side of the front walk at the foot of some yews, and they did wonderfully there. So I was stunned when they didn’t do for me when I was a “real” gardener. Some say it is easy for the corms to dry out and die. All I know is I wasn’t able to grow them until I got some in the green, as they say.

Betsy March 15, 2014, 11:01 am

Snowdrops (Galanthius) have just arrived too and get the jump on my winter aconite, but not by much!x

Kathy Purdy March 15, 2014, 7:46 pm

If my snowdrops and my aconites were planted in the same spot, the snowdrops might win, who knows? Location is everything when it comes to the very first bloom.

Les March 15, 2014, 9:26 am

I saw my first winter anconite, ever, yesterday. It was blooming in a garden another climate zone away and a little north of here. I can understand the attraction.

Kathy Purdy March 15, 2014, 7:49 pm

If you love sunshine yellow as I do, you would love them. But living in such a warm climate, you have a lot more choices for earliest spring bloom. As a matter of fact, I believe you are one of those gardeners who say along with Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have something in bloom every day of the year.”

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