Sunday, March 6, 2011

Winter Blooms


If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
-Anne Bradstreet

There is little more cheering than the first blooms of the season.  
Late winter bloomers, rising out of the cold, gray earth,
are some of the most endearing. 
Since their flowers are generally modest, it's a good idea to
plant them where they will be viewed from close proximity. 


 
These crocuses, which came with our home, are located along the rear fence of our yard.  While it's certainly worth the trip to enjoy their beauty, the reality is that I'll make that trek once or perhaps twice.  Better to site them along a well used path where they'll brighten your every coming and going.












Many front gardens near our home in Slovakia had Snowdrops (Galanthus).  The first sight of dainty white "Snezienky" on daily walks to school never failed to add a spring to my step - a sure sign that winter was losing its grip. 









It's easy to find close up pictures of the unique and photogenic "crepe papery" Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) flowers.  I've always been curious about the overall appearance of the shrub in bloom, but had never been at the right place at the right time.  This year, I went looking.   
Although Hershey Gardens is closed for the season, these specimens are conveniently placed just inside the fence along the road (see also top photo).  Their bright color was readily visible as I drove by in spite of the delicate scale of the flowers, set off by the evergreen background.  The persistent leaves contribute to a somewhat gangly appearance, but what welcome blooms in the midst of winter!


Bright yellow Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) makes a nice show beneath a tree.

Hellebore (Helleborus) is another popular winter bloomer, with the benefit of evergreen foliage - see Evergreen Groundcovers.  While I don't have a photo of Helleborus blooms, Deb's Garden does and Carolyn's Shade Gardens has a wealth of information on them.


Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment. 
~Ellis Peters

25 comments:

Donna said...

Isn't spring so joyous once it breaks free from winter who is hogging her time right now here...all these same blooms are waiting patiently beneath the ground...ready to wake fully soon...

Wife, Mother, Gardener said...

Beautiful! Love your layout and photography.
I just joined Blotanical and found your blog while searching around PA. I garden & write from north of Pittsburgh. I also have some pics of this Crocus tommasinianus in my own yard right now. They have spread prolifically and number in the hundreds.

I think that gardens that are well designed frame beautiful plants so much better than those just kind of tossed out there. Thanks for you articles.

HolleyGarden said...

I, too, have seen many pictures of witch hazel up close. But I had never seen the entire shrub. Thanks for posting a picture of it.

Cat said...

Beautiful shots Chris! The aconite are so cheery and spring-like. All the spring blooming bulbs have inspired me to plant daffodils this fall!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I would love to know the name of the witch hazel in the first photo--gorgeous color. Holding their leaves through winter is a trait that only some witch hazels have. It is important to choose one that doesn't do this. Thanks so much for linking to my blog. My current post is on Christmas rose hellebores.

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

We grow witch hazel at the nursery and it is a shrub I rarely use. I would never have thought to photograph it because they have such a gangly form. Up close it has pretty flowers, but in a landscape, it is hard to position. Best in a natural setting I think.

Chris said...

Donna: These early bloomers, coming while we are still in winter's grip are so encouraging! I hope you see them soon in your area!

Wife, Mother, Gardener: I so appreciate your visit! You have a great blog and I will be visiting often.

HolleyGarden: I'm always looking for photos that clearly show how plants appear in the landscape and my aim is to provide them.

Cat: Thanks! Spring bulbs are always a welcome sight!

Carolyn: Aren't those red flowers amazing! I'll have to go back when the gardens are open for the springto find out and update the post. I'll try to remember to let you know what it is.

Island Threads said...

Chris thanks for posting a full photo of the Witch Hazel like you I have never seen one, I really appreciate people you show full photos of gardens and plants in the landscape, all the close ups get a bit much for me as it tells me nothing of the whole plant and how it fits with other plants, Frances

Chris said...

GWGT: I'm puzzled by books which recommend Witch Hazel, but only show a close up of the flowers. I agree that it's best suited to naturalized locations.

Frances: Thank you for your kind comments and for your link to Garden Sense in your recent post! I'm with you - while close-ups make beautifully artistic pictures, I'm always looking for resources which show plants as they look and function in the landscape.

Darla said...

What a lovely post...beautiful photos.

Elephant's Eye said...

I like to make a collage with the details, and the plant in its setting. Closeups of flowers are easy, but the long view challenges my photographic skills.

Chris said...

Darla: Thank you! I appreciate your visit.
Elephant's Eye: Good idea. It's a bit easier to compose a good composition with closeups, and they are beautiful. But I'm always happy to see photos of plants as a whole, which are a valuable design resource.

Ramona said...

For the past couple years I have wanted to plant crocus and I just haven't. I regret it every year as winter comes to a close and I have no color in my garden. Thanks for sharing your cheery blooms!

Plantaliscious said...

I think the trick with witch hazels is to plant them where the light will catch them well. I failed with the one I had years ago, and got rid of it because it always looked so dull, both in flower and out. I too always like to see both close-ups and broader shots of plants, so hard to judge the habit and how to combine a plant you have only met in macro. My ideal would be pictures taken of the same plant through the seasons, to help make sense of it properly.

Alistair said...

Chris, I do so agree with you, Spring can only be a pleasure because of the promise in which it brings after the cold wintry months. I actually would not care to live where there is little or no change in seasons. I guess I am guilty with close ups of the Witch Hazel, thanks for pointing this out.

Sybil said...

Oh dear -- your pictures leave me aching for spring. It is still a month away here in Eastern Passage.

I had seen Witch Hazel here but not known what it was. I love gardening and plants but don't really know what I'm doing. Just do it. If it works great -- if not, I do it differently.

So glad I stumbled across your Blog.

Best wishes from Sybil in Eastern Passage, NS

Chris said...

Ramona: Crocus blooms are such a welcome sight at this time of year!

Plantaliscious: Thanks for the good advice on siting Witch Hazel. I like your idea of the series of photos throughout the year - I've seen some plant profiles that do that and agree that it's very helpful.

Alistair: Spring is so much sweeter because it comes after the cold, dark winter. Witch Hazel blooms are truly amazing - who could resist them?

Sybil: Yes, we're all on the edge of our seats, waiting for spring warmth and color. I'm so glad you stopped by - thanks for letting me know you were here!

Donna said...

Chris what beautiful early spring blooms...and you are so right..without winter spring would not be so sweet

Giga said...

Hello. Spring in full. As much as nice to look at these flowers, which bloom only with us. Nice pictures and thank you for the spring, so I'm waiting for you. Yours

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Chris, I love this post! Your quotations so perfectly complement your pictures. P x

Stacy said...

Chris, I so agree that spring plants beg for closer attention - how handy that this is the time of year when we're desperate to give it to them! :) I'm in love with all your photos, but especially the first one of the crocuses - such a lovely contrast with the weathered wood.

debsgarden said...

Beautiful photos! I really like the quotes, also. I planted a very small witch hazel several years ago. This year I finally have blooms! I like how your photo shows witch hazel in front of an evergreen. It is a good combination.

Chris said...

Donna: Who can resist the charms of spring after a cold, dark winter?

Giga: Thank you for visiting! I was happy to find your blog - in Poland, neighboring my beloved Slovakia!

Pam: I appreciate your kind comments! We're all so anxiously waiting for spring - these early bloomers are just the ticket!

Stacy: Thanks! The crocuses were just starting to bloom and their bright colors looked so cheerful against the browns and grays.

Deb: You are very kind. I hope to see photos of your Witch Hazel in your blog!

Aerie-el said...

Beautiful photos! I could almost smell the witch hazel, which is one of my favorite plants. My 'Diane' isn't yet blooming, we are so far behind this year!

Chris said...

Aeie-el: Thank you! I'd love to see how you have your Witch hazel sited. It's wonderful to feel spring in the air here in southcentral PA! I hope you'll soon be feeling it as well.

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