Entries in early spring (5)

Friday
Mar092018

Images of Early Spring 2018

Many trees are still bare, and some oaks even now hold stubbornly to dead fall leaves; but those dried holdovers from autumn are destined to fall soon as new leaves push them out. And the birds are busy, singing and cleaning and preening to make themselves presentable and generally creating a ruckus as they announce: Spring has arrived!I am not sure these male bluebirds were enjoying their spring bath, but it was nescessary!By the way, I recently heard something I had never heard before: a Red-shouldered Hawk cooing! These hawks have the most unpleasant shrill call, but one day I witnessed a male and female hawk rubbing beaks (Kissing must be a universal sign of affection!), and the female was making the softest cooing sound. I bet her tone will change when she is nest bound and demanding food!

Every day brings more bright green, pink, purple, and yellow colors as fresh growth sprouts throughout the garden. I am in a flurry of activity, trying to get weeds pulled, new plants put into the ground, and other plants pruned or transplanted to new places.

But never too busy to take photos! Recording images of the garden is one of my favorite pastimes, and by looking closely at pictures I have taken, I can appreciate their beauty, as well as spot problems in design or identify problems with individual plants. (For example, I will sometimes catch white flies or aphids in photos that my naked eye missed. Or I will see that a certain shrub really looks terrible in its present location or that it needs a companion plant to bring out its best features.) So here are some recent photos of spring blooms in my garden. I hope you enjoy!

Early daffodils in the front garden:

Flowering Quince. Sometimes people ask me if these plants produce fruit. The answer is yes! But very bitter and best reserved for quince jelly:

Hellebores:

Assorted Camellias:

Edgeworthia; I often say the blooms remind me of ballet tutus:

Cercis canadensis, or Eastern Redbuds are in full bloom. Despite the name, mine bloom purple:

Everyday I see new blooms:Clockwise from top left: Phlox subulata, commonly called Thrift; Unidentified variety of Euphorbia - a passalong plant from another gardener; Viburnum burkwoodii, a very fragrant species; Iberis sempervirens, also called Candytuft, a low-growing evergreen perennial that may be used a ground cover.

Clockwise from top left: Grape Hyacinth; Redbud blooms; Sanguinaria canadensis or Bloodroot; Magnolia 'Jane.'Many of these early spring blooms will fade as others come to life. I walk through the garden to see how plants have come through the winter. Some will have flourished; others I may never see again. Every spring day is an adventure!

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!