Although we’re surely not through with cold weather, the character of recent storms in addition to the calendar indicate spring is on its way. Plus, I have winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in bloom in the garden to seal the deal.
ABOVE: Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis)
For me the gardening season starts long before my hellebores get their late-winter haircut. (This year, I chopped back the old foliage the last weekend in February.) I usually mark the beginning of the season when I place that first order for seeds or plants, but this year was different. My husband and I were driving back from a trip to Florida to visit my mother. As is our pattern, were traveling the back roads as much as possible. (Has anyone out there read Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon?) We took Route 301 most of the way from Georgia, and got to watch spring creeping up the eastern seaboard, as redbuds, camellias, clumps of daffodils, and magnolias came into view along the roadside.
So, I was already thinking about gardening when I realized with a slight detour we could pass near Raleigh, North Carolina, home of one of my favorite mail-order suppliers, Plant Delights. In addition to a couple of mysteries for reading material during the trip, I had tucked their catalog (among others) in my bag. A glance inside the cover verified one of their spring open houses fell on the very day we were traveling through the area. (I swear there was no pre-planning on my part!) My always-accommodating husband was more than happy to devote half a day so I could visit the garden and shop. His only worry was that we wouldn’t have room to transport all the plants I bought.
In an effort that is completely out-of-character for me, the night before the open house I actually made a detailed list of what I wanted to buy. In addition to re-reading catalog descriptions, I reviewed the long, on-line list of internet- and Open-House-only offerings. While I normally love to wander through a nursery picking and choosing, my list provided invaluable direction as I shopped. It’s so easy to get smitten by lovely and interesting plants at every turn—ones that may or may not do well in or make sense for your garden. With list in hand, I mostly stayed on the straight and narrow. Yes, there were plants I simply couldn’t resist, including variegated bellwort Uvularia perfoliata ‘Jingle Bells’, but what’s shopping for if you can’t splurge?
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