GARDEN CLEANUP HAS ITS REWARDS. There you are poking around with a pruning shears or a rake, cutting some things back and uncovering others, and suddenly you find them: the first brave souls to bloom. From snowdrops (above) to the bravest shrub of all, a quick rundown of the first heat out of the gate:
- Helleborus niger, the so-called Christmas rose, is always extra-early. I showed it off in a previous season, in case you missed it.
- Helleborus orientalis hybrids are a little slower, and about half-awake here now. Preview what’s to come.
- Helleborus foetidus, the so-called stinking hellebore, wakes up early, too.
- Up and running, among bulbs: Galanthus, or snowdrops, and Eranthis hyemalis (the winter aconite, as it’s known) and the occasional crocus. Most of the crocus I planted years ago were casualties of wildlife, so I merely have a few where a generous squirrel or chipmunk has replanted one here and there.
- Pulmonaria rubra, the first and favorite of my lungworts (what a horrible common name!) is showing its dainty red blossoms in one corner of the yard. Read all about it.
- Salix chaenomeloides, the pussy willow with those extra-large catkins, is showing off, too, as I have reported before.
And then, there are the real serendipities, like the ones in the vegetable garden. Turning under my fall-sown green manure, or cover crop, I got a surprise in the form of dinner: seven carrots and three potatoes, each in perfect shape.
Isn’t life grand in spring?