Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Spy Something Yellow

Tiny yellow blooms are popping up all over in the garden.  Though small, their cheery hue is a welcome sight and reminds me of spring more than any other color.  I went on a photo scavenger hunt to see how many yellow blooms I could find.  

I found this tiny yellow crocus blooming inconspicuously at the base of a large oak tree.

This beautiful snow crocus was pushing its way up through a shroud of last year's leaves.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'

This vertically challenged daffodil, Narcissus 'February Gold' played beautifully off the complimentary purple Tommies nearby.

Little yellow flowers have appeared on Cornus mas located in the Hillside Garden.

And finally, these pale yellow flowers adorned the otherwise naked stems of Jasminum nudiflorum planted in the hillside garden above the driveway.

I am anticipating the explosion of yellow from the Forsythia and larger daffodils in the coming weeks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nothing Minor About These Bulbs

Often when we think of bulbs that bring eye-catching spring color to the garden, tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils come to mind.  These bulbs are known as major bulbs.  But we should not overlook the beauty that smaller bulbs bring to garden in late winter and early spring, often before the major bulbs have begun to put on their show.  Below are minor bulbs currently in bloom at Welkinweir.

Crocus tommasinianus - Tommies crocus

Crocus chrysanthus - snow crocus

Eranthus - winter aconite


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bashful Hellebores

Hellebores are shy flowers, usually opting to turn toward the ground instead of greeting the world with a cheery, open face.  It can be quite difficult to get a good look at their beautiful faces without getting up close and personal.  So, that's just what I did.  Muddy knees never hurt anyone.

Helleborus foetidus  

With a common name of stinking hellebore it's not too surprising H. foetidus hides its face.  The lime-green foliage is supposedly pungent when crushed, yet is visually striking against a dark green backdrop.

Helleborus orientalis hybrid

The dark purple blooms of this hellebore match the maroon tint of the new vegetative growth.

Helleborus x orientalis  pink spotted hybrid

There are many selections of  H. orientalis hybrids, but this pink spotted hybrid is one of my favorites.

And finally, the 'Ivory Prince' hellebore exudes more confidence than many of its relatives.  Its delicate pink flower is displayed upright, well above the foliage.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nature's Confectioner's Sugar

Not even a week has passed since Punxsutawney Phil promised us six weeks of winter. In normal years, the groundhog prophecy would be accompanied by the word more.  Given the extremely mild winter we've experienced since the early snowstorm in October, this year's prediction seemed dubious.  February 6th and 7th were a sunny 50 degrees, prompting witch hazel and hellebore to bloom.

But it appears Phil has some credibility.  February 8th, it began to snow.

The Hillside Garden came to life with a fresh coat of powder.

The snow accented the beautiful form of the weeping hemlock on the west lawn.

The Japanese umbrella pine and weeping Japanese maple were quite striking.

And the snowdrops, which emerged in force in the mild weather, looked elegant under the snowflakes.

But today was perhaps most beautiful, with the return of sunshine to light the frosted landscape.

Still, this was only a few more days of winter. No offense Mr. Punx, but I remain skeptical about your six week prediction.  Signs of spring are everywhere.

Magnolia bud.

Mahonia bealei about to bloom.

Witch hazel in the lower arboretum.

L: 'Diane' witch hazel. R: 'Westerstede' witch hazel.

'Jelena' witch hazel, near Pinetum.

 So, Punx, meet robin. He has been robbing the hollies and waiting to sing "I told you so."