The first flowers…after cold and sometimes dark days of winter, the first stirrings of spring are a very uplifting sight and a welcome return…”remonter le moral…”
…early signs of spring’s new beginnings…golden wonders, some of the first plants of the year to bloom provide a welcome burst of brilliant color to cheer a dreary day. Today, this cheery daffodil suddenly appeared after two days of warmth and sunshine!
As February ends and March slowly advances so does the tide of green that sweeps over the garden. Winter’s chilly winds and cold temps give way to sun-warm days, green sprouts and glorious budding blooms. Everyday there are new buds and shoots and blooms to discover. For gardeners the urge to get out and do things becomes irresistible.
For me, time in the garden only stops when days are too cold to be comfortable outside, which is rare! My list of work includes: clean out the rain barrels and put fresh charcoal in the bottom of each; prune buddleia, roses and winter flowering shrubs; plant potato eyes; plant salad greens and snow peas and Swiss chard; plant summer and fall blooming bulbs; trim blackberries and re-tie for now…And, my favorite: exploring for new growth sprouts and blooms.
Hellebores, or Lenten roses…offer their blooms anytime from early winter to mid-spring, depending on the weather as I have had them blooming through the snow in my garden in seasons past. Nodding hellebore blooms have attractive, evergreen foliage, come in several colors and are very long lasting…and reseed easily to form large spreading clumps. Grow them in a semi-shady spot, or under trees and mixed with ferns, woodland phlox and sweet woodruff for a lovely combination. They prefer moist, well-drained soil enriched with organic compost.
Snowdrops are one of the few flowers that only come in one color-white. The dainty snowdrops appear very early in spring often working their way through the snow to bloom. In the language of flowers, the snowdrop symbolizes hope and rebirth…perfect plan! They can also be easily grown in pots or containers as shown in the photo, right.
Bright sunny days in late winter to early spring tempt the buds of witch hazel [or Hamamelis ] to unfurl. Their bloom period can last as long as a month in some areas. Despite their wispy appearance, witch hazel flowers are extremely durable. Nice to cut branches to bring inside.
Spring into Action…cut down any remaining flower stems, pull any weeds that might have popped up, add some compost or organic fertilizer to your garden beds and re-mulch as needed, throw out poppy seeds and love-in-a-mist seeds, lift and divide any large clumps of perennials that did not flower well in the previous season…and it’s a good time to plant blueberries if you didn’t last fall, as healthy foods go…they top the list packed with juicy goodness and a multitude of health benefits. They are easy to grow in a dedicated spot but if space is limited, smaller varieties will grow and produce very well in containers. *You will need two plants for pollination or find self-pollinating varieties.
FLAVORS OF SPRING…Find rosemary in small pots and plant wherever you have space…as you can see, in my garden it’s blooming a lovely shade of blue now, yes, now during winter days…Most of you know that my absolute favorite herb is LAVENDER, however, rosemary is my second best followed closely by real French thyme! All of these herbs, with their growth habits, foliage, form, color, texture and fragrance, conjure up hot, summer Mediterranean afternoons, how wonderful is that?!
With its evergreen foliage and decorative forms…from upright varieties suitable for topiary to sprawling and spreading prostrate plants…it should not be confined to an herb garden. While designing gardens for clients I always include rosemary…somewhere! It’s perfect as small border shrubbery, falling over a rock wall, a topiary center point, around a bench, patio or chair and/or as a fragrant accent lining a garden path.
Nothing shy about rosemary…her scent can be quite pushy. When grown in a dry sunny spot, it has foliage and flowers that are sweetly resinous with a robust strength that makes you happy to touch with your hands! Cooking with rosemary is as diverse as the plant varieties available. See some of my past blogs for more growing information as well as special recipes…especially rosemary biscuits, and scallops cooked on rosemary skewers…
Don’t forget rosemary water also makes a wonderful hair rinse for your hair…
Spring is traditionally the season for fresh goat’s milk cheeses…ideas for new spring dishes: saute’ one inch slices of fresh goat cheese, crusted with panko crumbs and chopped walnuts, serve on a bed of crisp salad greens with a tangy lemon vinaigrette…or a spring herb tart with goat cheese served with tender herbs and new salad greens…Rosemary, thyme and lavender are natural herb flavors to go with yummy GOAT CHEESE!!
Oh, and a favorite…softened goat cheese mixed with chopped walnuts and several splashes of brandy, serve with a fresh warm baguette…and a bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, of course!! Another glimpse of heavenly taste.
Window dressing…something colorful and fresh for your windowsill. Remember when we once thought how tacky all those colorful bottles were??? Not anymore, especially if done well. On this windowsill is a lovely collection of bottles in different shapes and shades of green, blue and amber… combined with fresh flowers… make an unbeatable and continuing display. As the first rays of sunrise flow through the window casting mixed shadow colors on the wall, I wake to a rainbow inside!
Ever wonder where a phrase comes from…? How about… “Let the cat out of the bag…”
Farmers in England used to sell suckling pigs on market day. They would put one on show and keep the others, [piglets] tied in bags. Traders less than honest substituted the valuable piglet for a cat. The secret would reveal itself when the duped and some would say, slightly ‘unobservant’ buyer, returned home and the cat emerged from the bag!!
DID YOU KNOW THIS…? We usually see lambs only in spring. Along with the egg, the daffodil, and the rabbit, they are the symbol of the season. And why? Ewes only/typically become naturally fertile when hours of darkness exceed those of daylight. This clever planning by Mother Nature ensures that her young will arrive as spring weather blooms!
Recycled materials make stylish accents throughout the garden…use fresh tree trimmings as vertical accents as well as a way to tie up vines and support large perennials…much more attractive and less costly than commercial versions.
Here’s hoping the warmth of an early spring day blows in with the typical lion of the March…
Warm wishes from Holly and me…