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The Bravest of Them All

The sun has been shining, but don't let that fool you; it is still COLD out there! At least to me, with my thin southern blood. Oh, I went outside yesterday, thinking to spend some quality time in my garden with the camera. Ha! The first gust of chill wind had my teeth chattering. Today is only marginally better. The following is a view from the arbor garden, down from the patio. Can you feel the cold, even though we have no snow?

Yet spring should be here within six weeks, and I am getting more excited every day. Once Christmas is over, I am done with winter; although, in truth, it hardly gets here till January. So in spite of the wind, I did spend some time yesterday looking for signs of spring. That is not unreasonable; in some years past we have had forsythia, quince, and daffodils in bloom as early as January.

Buds: You have got to be kidding! Have you forgotten those single digit temps we had just a couple weeks ago?

Me: No, I haven't forgotten, but I was hoping...

Buds: Well, we are not crazy. We plan to stay wrapped up nice and cozy, and we suggest you do the same.

Me:  So you say, but I know you well enough; with a day or two of warmer temps, you will be peeking out. Then the next minute you will be dancing in the breeze!

Buds: Just like you.

Me: Yep, just like me. I can't wait for spring!

So, I saw no signs of daffodils, and buds were staying inside their wraps, including these:Clockwise from top left: Camellia 'Red Candles'; Edgeworthia crysantha - If these buds seem closer to blooming, it's only because of the fuzzy coats they wear; Witch hazel; Viburnum opulus.

Most of what I saw yesterday were 2013 dried-up leftovers:Dried hydrangea blooms lay on the ground amidst fallen leaves.A dried sedum still holds its head tall.

I found a single hellebore bloom that had poked its head up and then hunkered over, wishing it had not been quite so anxious:

Only little violas were stalwart enough to show their full faces. So delicate in appearance, but surely the bravest of them all! No doubt this is why their common name is Johnny-Jump-Ups!

I have always loved violas. They are the first flowers in my memory. I was three years old, and my next door neighbor Mrs. Jordan had them growing in her back yard. Mrs. Jordan may have been 80 or she may have been 60, but I remember her as being very old and wrinkly in a navy blue dress. She let me wander through her garden, and I was enraptured by the violas' sweet faces, just as I still am today.

Have a great week!


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Reader Comments (19)

Quite odd, this unusual chill, but nature knows the weather's too iffy to risk sacrificing blooms to the ice gods.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLee May

Your garden looks cold but beautiful. We're on a temperature roller coaster right now, vacillating between highs near 60 and highs in the 30s. No matter what the temps, winter is so much more tolerable when the sun is out!

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I remember pansies as the 1st flowers that captured my attention as a child too, in a well-tended garden owned by a wealthy woman my grandmother worked for as a cook and housekeeper. My guess is that I was about 4 and, even now, I don't think I ever let a year go by without having some in my own garden.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

My first plant was corn seeds, the neighbor who was a wrinkly and old as yours, lol. but so sweet let me help her plant them in little rows, measuring between the kernels with a wooden ruler.

I'm so happy to recognize the Edgeworthia buds..without having to check your caption, yes! still got it....lol.


January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

My garden isn't sure what to do with this crazy weather, either. Even the daffodils are hiding and I had sleeping bags over my loropetalums to keep them alive when the temps were almost zero. I have a wallflower plant in a pot that I swear was shivering the other day.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Yay for Violas! So resilient and brings cheer at a time of the year when most plants (and buds) are still asleep. As you've said it won't be long now before spring arrives and all buds will enlarge and start bursting into action again :)

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

I love violas too -- such sweet, happy flowers. You have to admit that winter light is something special. Your photographs prove it.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Jan 20 north GA mountains
Yes,I have tried to be outside too but don't make it too long,'
BUT I have seen robins in my yard so that's a good sign.
My plants look just like yours but I do not have any violas,
I suppose I should. Love your blog.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Still waiting for winter here but the plants are putting on too many buds, but I suppose they'll recover even if some do get frosted.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Those buds look very promising. Soon it will be spring! Lovely sunny violas!

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Deborah I know I have bulbs putting on great green growth under the snow again. And the sub zero temps this week will keep my buds tight too....my spring will not really show up for at least 8-10 weeks.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I love Johnny-Jump-Ups, too! My mom grew them quite often growing up. Here in Massachusetts, I have found out that the last frost date for my area is in mid-May. Yikes, I don't know if I can wait that long! I planted the earliest bloom daffodil varieties I could get my hands on last fall - hopefully they'll tide me over!

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

It's great you already have a lot of buds, I noticed on my tulip magnolia trees that they were full of buds too! Looks cold there, we are suppose to have single digit temperatures for the next few days.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichael

A lovely post, Deb. We must be kindred spirits... I have always loved "Johnny Jump Ups" too! I also remember them as a small child jumping up through the grass. How they delighted me... then and now! We're still under snow here, although today is beautifully sunny.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

How wonderful that you have a Hellebore already making its appearance! Your area will start Spring much earlier than ours. I too love violas. You have wonderful memories of an old neighbour, which will be triggered each time you see a pansy or Johnny-Jump-Up.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

Hi Deb, Your teeth would definitely be chattering here. -33 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Can spring really be 6 weeks way? Here, I think spring will try our patience and make us wait at least 8 to 10 more weeks. So much the greater will our appreciation be for those pretty Johnny-Jump-Ups.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Great dialogue between you and the plants! Sometimes I do that, too, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. ;-) This northerners blood prefers the summer--or the south during the winter! I really don't enjoy winter photography because I've had frostbite too many times in my life. Yes, I'm a wimp. It seems we've all had a tough winter this year here in the states, anyway. I guess that just means that spring will be even more welcome than usual. Take care!

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

I feel the same way as you do about Johnny Jump Ups - they are quite magical, and I remember as a child looking with wonder at the faces of pansies. Mrs Jordan obviously had a very important effect on your nature appreciation development. I bet she also had conversations with her plants.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

It's been a rough winter all over, but I don't think you are going to win any sympathy from us in the north! The first polar vortex was brutal, we got down to minus ten. But this time we are supposed to hit minus thirteen! I am so over winter.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL
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