Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wonderful Witchhazel

Spring is coming.

How do I know? The snowdrops have been blooming for nearly a month and the witchhazel has decided to flower. I planted them on purpose to save my sanity after our long winters. This winter, of course, has been very mild. I still miss not getting enough snow!

Buds just cracking open

I have a spring blooming witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) that has finally reached a decent size after a couple of winters of rabbit munching. They don't grow especially quickly, which is unusual in my garden. Most of my trees and shrubs grow at fantastic rates, far quicker than they should. Not the witchhazel. It is taking its sweet time. Some day it will be 10 to 12 feet, but not for many years. I'm very fond of its big ruffled leaves that turn brilliant gold in the fall and its explosive seed pods that send seed far and wide (not that it reseeds, they can be tricky to propagate).

What pretty little dazzlers

I fell in love with witchhazel's strappy star-like flowers and its lightly astringent scent. With a few more sunny days, it will be truly lovely, but for now the petals are only about halfway extended. Its a cautious shrub. The snowdrops will fearlessly brave wind and snow, but the witchhazel needs convincing. That's how I'm sure spring is coming.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Primroses Are Too Cute

Hello, lovely!

February sometimes seems like the longest month. This year we don't have the excitement of a blizzard to break up the monotony of grey skies and bare branches. I get a little desperate for green, growing things and fall for the primoses every time. My local grocery store chain tends to sell them for about a buck and a half (two for $3!). How can I resist?

Nifty flower structure too!

There's no way I'm going to be able to grow primoses (Primula sp.) in my yard. They tend to prefer a moist, cool, woodland site - think England. Our Midwestern summers are too hot and too dry. And, well, everything grows better in England. Ask anybody. I've got my wee pot on the kitchen windowsill so it can get a good dose of sun, and it actually prefers the coolness. It gets watered nearly every day to keep it nice and moist in the dry house. As long as we keep deadheading it, this cheerful plant will bloom for weeks. Once it's done, off to the compost pile! In the meantime, I'm more than a little in love with its bright blooms.