in bloom now: the first march garden arrivals

snowdropsGARDEN 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.

potato and carrot
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?

  1. steve ambrose says:


    First Garden Arrival:

    My first woodchuck, whistle pig, ground hog…
    He/She made an appearance on the grass / clover right outside my garden gate.
    No vegetables planted yet…
    Immediately set up two Hav-A-Hart cages, baited with a bit of peaches.

    Critters are starting early this season…
    Last year’s counts:
    2 Groundhogs
    2 Raccoons
    1 Opossum

    Lost all my peas to the woodchucks last season
    Coons and Possum were just there for the bait, not my veggies.

    I have stopped planting sweet corn…
    Coons always beat me to it… uncanny how they know when the sweet corn is “just right”

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, AnnBB. They are in full force now here, thanks to an extra-early week of sunshine and April-ish weather. Who knows what’s coming next from the heavens, though. :) See you soon again, I hope.

  2. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm says:

    I saw the groundhog for the first time yesterday! I thought I had convinced them to move on last summer. Maybe he was just checking out the old homesite. I fenced off the old main home entrance yesterday afternoon. Hopefully that will discourage him. If not, there is always the ammonia soaked rags in the holes again. Seems to have worked last year.

  3. Carol P says:

    3 days of raking, pruning, pulling mats of early weeds (what’s the ground-hugging one with tiny white daisies?)- basically up to my ears in dirt and so happy! Love it around 4-5 o’clock when my husband casually mentions “what’s for dinner?”. Dinner….haven’t even thought about it!

    Love, love, love your blog.
    PS- looks like all the snowcover in Pittsburgh kept the perennials really happy. Shrubs are another matter.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Carol P. Yes, shrubs (and trees here) are another matter, isn’t that true? Yikes. Neighbor w/chainsaw just erased a few for me that were too far gone. Is it chickweed? (Nothing here in the weed world has flowers yet.)

      Let your husband know that what’s on the menu is a new diet plan: the He Cooks Dinner diet. Effective now, running through hard frost and garden cleanup. Do you want me to tell him? :)

  4. MichelleB says:

    Oh happy day, robins and the 1st daffodil! The snowdrops and hellebores are in full bloom-and I see lots of little seedlings I need to pot up so I can move them around the garden- and a few crocus. The grass is even turning green. The chickens are mad because I kicked them out of the garden so I could plant the peas. Isn’t spring wonderful?

    Margaret thanks for giving us a place to peek at what is going on in everyone’s garden.

  5. Liz Stein says:

    My first daffodil this morning! and one lonely clump of snowdrops, plus the crocuses. Can you tell me, when are you supposed to plant snowdrops? I know they sell them in the fall, but I read somewhere, in an English book I think, that they do better if transplanted in full growth. Of course, if you can only get them in the fall, I guess it’s moot. But I have planted snowdrops with only mediocre success, and I wondered if that’s the reason.

  6. lynn says:

    i once got a huge clump of snowdrops on the side of the road, they were making a part of the road wider and they were just digging them up, heaven, they have been with me for over 20 years, they are the first residents of my mini vase collection, oh how the minors make my heart sing, joy, spring is here, joy, joy!!!!

  7. Candylei says:

    What a pleasant surprise. We usually get rogue potatoes ! Our miniature daffodls are blooming on the south side and our star magnolia just opened up like a June bride today!

  8. angel says:

    I’m surprised so many of my crocuses have come back as it seemed many of them were eaten last year. It was my first year gardening and I didn’t know crocuses were tasty to wildlife!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Angel. I would be hard-pressed to think of another bulb they devour here with such consistency. I just gave up years ago — probably shouldn’t have, but what a mess, losing virtually every single bulb of several thousand I bought in those giant collections you can get pretty cheap. So much for that. Every year at this time I so wish I had some, so I am feeling jealous. :) See you soon again, yes?

      Welcome, Naomi. I love your tale…I am the odd woman out in my area, too, though there are not nearby houses, exactly (quite rural). But people know me as “that lady with the garden” as hopefully you will soon be known (it’s a compliment, I think). :) I am laughing about what I call the “mow and blow” crews “doing” the neighborhood…hate that form of garden maintenance. Ugh. See you soon again, and happy spring.

  9. Naomi says:

    Here’s a first – my first spring with a garden. Moved late last year to a non-apartment place of my own that has actual /earth/ attached to it. :D

    I’m not sure who’s more nervous – me, or the neighbors. The neighborhood is made up of streets and streets where each house sits square in the middle of unbroken grass apart from an evergreen shrub by the front door (all tended by lawn services that zoom up, spray and cut their way down the block, and zoom off again), and the folks next door looked decidedly disgruntled when I broke ground for an actual planting bed.

    Hopefully we’ll both survive my learning curves…

  10. Leslie says:

    I have voles which love both crocus and tulip bulbs. I have learned that they don’t seem to like the species tulips. For crocus, I plant c. tommisinianus(Sp) which seeds and speads fast enought that some survive the critters. Forget the big Dutch ones. Tommys are cute and very early

  11. Brian G. says:

    Three or four years ago I planted a drift of about 500 giant crocus. The day I planted them I rushed through the digging and planting to catch an early train and did a bad job of it. Squirrel caviar, right? No. I guess the word hasn’t gotten around in the rodent world because they come up like clock work, thicker every year. Perhaps the large ones aren’t as tasty as the small.

  12. Annabelle says:

    Some of the 100 bulbs I planted last fall are starting to come up (Thanks, Brent and Becky). Too bad I can’t for the life of me what I planted. I’ll have to be looking in the scribbly garden notebook…

  13. Tammy says:

    Thursday afternoon I took off from my day job and worked in the garden all day (it was in the 70’s). Heavenly. I was so sure Spring was imminent. Sunday morning I awoke to several inches of SNOW. Yep, right here in big D. What a crazy mixed up Spring!

  14. Carol says:

    Experienced a relaxing and refreshing Sunday walking through the woods at Winterthur in Delaware. The rolling sylvan hills are tinted the beautiful light blue of
    squill and little white snowdrops like yours bow their shy heads everywhere.
    One of our favorite walks from now, “The March Bank” and later the azeleas are

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