I’ve always loved March*. March is the time of rebirth and new beginnings. It’s a time when dormant plants and animals begin to stir and life takes on a miraculous transformation. March is when winter relaxes its icy grip, and spring stretches its warm embrace. What better place to witness this transition than in the garden?
The warmer temperatures and lengthening days are coaxing many of the plants out of bed. Bergenia, also known by it’s common name ‘Pig Squeak’, are tough evergreen perennials native to central Asia. Bergenias bloom right on the cusp of spring, though they are grown more for their foliage than their fluffy blossoms. They were in the height of their popularity during the Victorian Era, but like all things that were once in vogue they receded into the background. Unfortunately it’s now a victim of the ‘ it’s-too-common-it’s-boring’ mentality. I have to confess I was the same way until I saw a well grown specimen that changed my mind.
The Edgeworthia is in full bloom now and as I hoped the flower colors are deeper than the first ones a few weeks ago. Every few years Mother Nature reminds us to not get too comfortable by giving us a real diva cold snap causing tender blossoms to shatter and (sometimes) knocking the plant to the ground. Hopefully no surprise snaps are in store for us, but in the meantime I’ll keep my fingers crossed just in case and enjoy its orangey-coral blooms.
There are so many things happening in the garden it is hard to write about them all, but every March I am reminded how early Dodecatheon pulchellum comes up in the garden. This alpine native wildflower is commonly found growing along stream banks, waterfalls, and wet meadows in the mountains. Shooting Star emerges in early spring giving way to fleshy, apple-green leaves and hot magenta flowers. The flower petals are extremely reflexed giving it the common name of ‘Shooting Stars’. The plant typically blooms for one to two months before setting seed and going dormant for the summer.
My Dodecatheon pulchellum patch started out as two rescue plants I received from work about three years ago and the year after I saved another one. All three plants were modest 4-inch pots, but my how they have grown! Of the first two I planted one in the mossy bed, which is almost pure clay, and the second in the well-drained bed. The one planted in pure clay responded well to the sticky, wet soil. It exploded with lush growth and multiple blooms, while the other did alright. Next spring when trying to transplant the second one to the mossy bed, I shattered the poor plant into many small pieces and planted them with little hope. Joyously all the divisions survived that initial trauma and now I have thirteen individual plants!
There are too many things happening in the garden right now to write about each thing, so here is a quick jaunt through some of the highlights of the garden:
It’s been a week since I returned from the interview in New York for the fellowship I applied for in January. I am extremely happy to say that the Garden Club of America has selected me as the next Royal Horticultural Society Interchange Fellow! (Used to be known as the Martin McLaren Scholarship.) This fellowship will allow me to work in public gardens and botanic gardens around the UK for 10 months. I am so honored and extremely excited for this amazing opportunity! March really is the month of new beginnings and growth! Anyway, it’s time for bed, but expect one post for my trip to New York and another of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Let’s march forth into spring!
*Though another reason why I love March is more of a selfish one: I was born on March 4th. I that like my birthday can be read as the command ‘march forth’ and apparently it’s the only day in the year with that ability. My good friend once said to me, “You march forth into spring” and it has stuck ever since.