Entries in early spring (4)

Sunday
Mar222015

Early Spring, 2015

It happens every year, but I greet the arrival of spring with the delight of an infant who has never seen a blossom before. The garden is awakening. I wander along damp mossy paths, smiling at each swelling flower bud and each lime-green leaf that unfurls. The light is gentle, the breeze is energizing, and the air is filled with chirps and chatters and trills and calls. There is a mockingbird in a tree, and his incessant happy song declares the wonders of season. 

Many limbs and branches are still bare, and on a rainy day the land looks as cheerless as any winter day; but not for long, as every morning adds new color to the landscape. Forsythia was late blooming this year, put off by freezes, but at last it opened its cheery yellow bells:

Chaenomeles, or flowering quince, bloomed through the hard freezes and continues to be beautiful:

Corylopsis spicata, called winterhazel, is a plant in the witch hazel family, or Hamamelidaceae. Its clusters of yellow flowers hang on bare branches and glow like little lanterns:Fothergilla is one of my favorite native shrubs. I recently planted several new ones near the base of some river birch trees. This variety is called 'Redneck Nation,' after Fred Nation, the botanist who found it growing in south Alabama. My new shrubs look sparse now, but they will soon grow and be filled with foliage. The fragrant, white bottlebrush blooms are just beginning to open:

My daffodils were a bit disappointing this year. They bloomed just in time to be hit by severe frost, then weeks of rain. They lay low to the ground during most of this time, but bravely stood tall when the sun was shining:

These trilliums grow wild in my woodland garden. The deep maroon petals in the center have not yet opened:

Hepatica nobilis, also called liverwort, is a beautiful woodland wildflower. I planted these next to a path, so I can appreciate its small, delicate blooms:

Another spring wildflower in my woodland garden is Sanguinaria, also called bloodroot. It has taken a long time to become established; the first couple of years I thought it had died! I am glad to see several blooms this year. It is shown on the upper right in this collage of spring bloomers:Clockwise from upper left: Sanguinaria, also called bloodroot; Grape Hyacinths; Pieris japonica, also called andromeda; Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'; Leucojum aestivum, also called summer snowflake, although it blooms in spring; Magnolia 'Jane.'I am just as pleased with beautiful foliage as I am with flowers. Strawberry begonia and Heucerella 'Alabama Sunrise' are two new additions to my woodland garden: Strawberry begonia is a vigorous ground cover.

Heucerella 'Alabama Sunrise' is a cross between Heuchera and Tierella. Throughout the year, life continues in the decaying crevices of Stump World:

On a fallen log I find a surprisingly beautiful arrangement of lichens, which have flourished in abundant rain:

As day's end approaches, I find these blooms silhouetted against the sky:

The woods still look bare in evening's glow, but tomorrow more buds will open and more color will show. Spring is here!

Saturday
Mar152014

The Signs of Spring

I walk outside and breathe it in. Spring! Composers  through the ages have written sonnets, poems, and ballads describing their feelings about the season. A friend recently sent me this image of someone's emotional expression.You may have seen a similar sign already, but if not, I think you might enjoy it; and I have to say that I feel the same!

Despite continuing cold nights, the days are warmer and spring is rolling in with new flowers appearing daily. Each morning I can't wait to get out there to see what is happening in the garden. I especially like to examine the little blooms, the ones that make you pause and take a closer look.

Amelanchier, also called serviceberry, juneberry, and a number of other names, is in full bloom.The berries that follow the flowers are delicious, but I may never get more than a handful. I planted this tree for the birds, especially the bluebirds, who love them.

From a distance, Chaenomeles, or flowering quince, packs a powerful punch, but clusters of the small blooms are equally amazing up close.

Masses of Phlox subulata is a common spring-time sight, but the individual little flowers are not common at all:

Hepatica nobilis, with the unfortunate common name of liverwort, is just emerging in the woodland garden.This plant is taking its time becoming well-established, but I love the little blooms.

Below left, Leucojum estivum, or summer snowflake, has dainty white bells that must be appreciated up close, and below right is the funky Corylopsis sinensis, a tall shrub known as winter hazel.

Some other blooms are larger and also deserve attention as I stroll through the garden.Clockwise, from above left: Edgewothia chrysantha; Camellia from a shrub that is over 30 years old; An unusual daffodil, planted about sixty years ago by the original owner of our house; Magnolia 'Jane'

Below left is a bird house that has been a favorite of bluebirds every year. A couple have been busy there recently, and I hoped to get a photo of one, but Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird would not cooperate! The yellow in the background is Forsythia, also called yellow bell. Below right, A stray forsythia branch is blooming in front of a purple pot. The pot contains Carex oshimensis 'Everillo', a brightly colored sedge that is my new favorite plant of the season.

Take a look at a woodland scene that I have featured through every season, because it may soon be changing! My beloved blue bridge has termites! Lou says there is little to be done for it. By next year I will have to replace it. When that happens, I will find a small metal bridge and I doubt it will look the same. But be sure, I will paint the railings turquoise blue!

Finally, as a perfect spring day in the garden comes to a close, I catch the sun setting behind the trees.

May the joy of discovery and the fresh hope of spring always be in your hearts.   Deb