March Forth into Spring

13 Mar

Violas

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?

Bergenia 'Bressingham White' fully budded and still showing its winter blush.

Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ fully budded and still showing its winter blush.

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.

Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Akabana' in full bloom.

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akabana’ in full bloom.

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.

A close up of Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Akabana' flowers in full bloom.

I love that rich orange-coral against the silver downy hairs.

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.

A small patch of Dodecatheon pulchellum ballooning out of the mossy earth.

A small patch of Dodecatheon pulchellum ballooning out of the mossy earth.

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:

Primula polyanthus 'Gold Lace' would have better looking flowers if I kept up with the Sluggo.

Primula polyanthus ‘Gold Lace’ would have better looking flowers if I kept up with the Sluggo.

Primula denticulata is starting to stretch out exposing more flowering heads on the way.

Primula denticulata is starting to stretch out exposing more flowering heads on the way.

The Primula veris that are started from seeds last year are finally lifting their flowers above their foliage. Again, I need to Sluggo more frequently.

The Primula veris that I started from seeds last year are finally lifting their flowers above their foliage. Again, I need to Sluggo more frequently.

Since Primula acaulis are jumbled hybrids all of these are sniffed and hand selected for fragrant genes.

Since Primula acaulis are jumbled hybrids, I sniffed and hand selected each one that inherited fragrance.

The white hellebore in full bloom.

The white hellebore in full bloom.

I spotted this beauty in a sea of hellebores at home depot a few years ago.

I spotted this beauty in a sea of hellebores at home depot a few years ago.

This black hellebore had only one growing eye and was deemed dead at work, but I decided to save it. It took two years to finally bloom, but it was worth it!

This black hellebore had only one growing eye and was deemed dead at work, but I decided to save it. It took two years to finally bloom, but it was worth it!

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.

5 Responses to “March Forth into Spring”

  1. Agnes March 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Once again, so many tidbits to comment on! Enjoyed the slug-eaten buds the best, the signs of a true garden! Ooh, and the “march fo(u)rth!” And most importantly, congratulations on the acceptance!!!

    • terrygardens March 16, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Thank you!! I am glad you enjoy the slug-eaten buds! Sometimes they don’t even leave a single bud for me to see, we’re (still) in the midst of working out a treaty.

  2. Paul March 16, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Congratulations, that sounds like its going to be a great experience. And thanks for the shooting star update.

    • terrygardens March 16, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Thanks, Paul! I’ll be posting more on our native wildflowers, a lot of them have started waking up.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bloominocity – Part I | Terry Gardens - April 9, 2013

    […] the Dodecatheon pulchellum on my past post? Well they are definitely up now! This is just the beginning, there are more buds on the way. It […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Consider the Plants

for a life botanic

UW Greenhouse Insiders

Plants to watch in the University of Washington's Botany Greenhouse

Plinth et al.

the platform between art and horticulture

Seeds by Post

A New way of gardening - have seeds delivered to your door!

Xera Plants Blog

Gardening in Portland, Oregon Zone 8b

Rose Notes

for a life botanic

RG Blog

for a life botanic

Growing with plants

for a life botanic

What ho Kew!

for a life botanic

Prairiebreak

for a life botanic

The Frustrated Gardener

The life and loves of a time-poor plantsman

DC Tropics

for a life botanic

Floret Flowers » Blog

for a life botanic

Garden amateur

for a life botanic

Stupid Garden Plants

for a life botanic

The Chthonian Life

Making the natural, unnatural.

gardeninacity

Notes from a wildlife-friendly cottage garden

Southbourne Gardens

A slice of the good life

a sonoma garden

adventures in organic living

The Outlaw Gardener

for a life botanic

busy mockingbird

a messy collection of art projects, crafts, and various random things...

Hayefield

A Pennsylvania Plant Geek's Garden

.

for a life botanic

Squirrels and Tomatoes

the slow saga of my garden

Smithsonian Gardens

Discover Smithsonian Gardens

theseasonalbouquet

two designers, two farms, two coasts + one dare

A Next Generation Gardener

for a life botanic

Growing Steady

for a life botanic

%d bloggers like this: