BY LITTLE HARBINGERS around the garden. The cedrus deodora drop their opened cones, shattering when they hit the ground to scatter their seeds leaving ‘roses’ all around.
There are two of these trees at the borders of our property. At heights of 50-60 feet, most likely they were planted 40-50 years ago. The seeds sprout easily and grow quickly like weeds. When the seedlings are two-three inches tall I pot them up and hand them off to an enthusiast of evergreen trees.
Daphne laureola, also known around here as spurge laurel has been blooming for a couple of weeks now. It is unfortunate that this variety does not have the fragrance of its more well known cousins but I really like the yellow green flowers clustered like jewels at the crown. The flowers will yield small black berries favored by robins and that is how they spread. New plants pop up in places not always favored by most plants; that is the driest, shadiest places around the garden that receive mostly natural irrigation. If you catch them early in an unwanted place pull them like a weed! This daphne has dark green, leathery leaves and grows to about 2 1⁄2 feet tall and is not unattractive. In my garden there is usually a place for small, shrubby plants with high drought tolerance.
This unamed peony emerges from the ground like no other that I have. The fat flower buds start pushing up first, long before the leaves or stems in late January. It seems to me that they should suffer from hard freezes and snow but miraculously they don’t. By the beginning of March the buds have pushed up two-three inches and the tender, slightly translucent leaves begin to loosen their grip around the buds, unfurling in a most beguiling way. I find the color and sculptural form arresting and dramatic.
This is pulmonaria. It may be pulmonaria angustifolia, officianalis, or saccharata; I have now way of knowing as it came from Grandma T’s garden and there is no telling as to its origins there. It is likely the original was planted in the 1930’s or 1940’s. Also known as blue cowslip, lungwort or Bethlehem sage, these cheery little pink and blue flowers begin to bloom in early February, persisting well into April.
I await the coming of the catkins—they signal spring is on the way. I love the way they dangle and gently sway in the wind. Also known as ‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick’, this specimen is in a very large pot on our deck and adds a very sculptural element.
‘Harry Lauder’ has tiny magenta flowers that follow the appearance of the catkins are easily missed—they were an unexpected surprise the first time I spotted them,
LUSH! SPRING! GREEN! is how I feel when I look at the bright green foliage and red stems of the aquilegias. It will be a couple of months yet until their flowers make an appearance. It is the appearance of plants like this one around the garden that make the promise of spring more than just a winter’s dream.