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: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.
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.