I’ve been spending a bit of quality time out in the garden this winter—primarily weeding and cutting things back, but also enjoying plants in their winter garb. One benefit of this strange non-winter we are having is that bulbs are already showing their pretty faces. I have winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) and common snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) in bloom already, and my hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus) are not far behind.
Above: Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis)
Despite these early bloomers, I don’t have many bulbs over all in the garden yet, and if you are in the same boat, I hope you’ll take the pledge I’ve taken: I swear I’m going to get more of them planted this year! When I build beds, I prepare site and soil then add shrubs, trees, and perennials. I plant bulbs last, because I find it’s too easy to dig into them by mistake when I am planting something else. I’ve now got enough ground prepared that I no longer have an excuse.
Above: Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
There’s nothing more lovely than spring bulbs blooming in a winter garden. Winter aconites and snowdrops are among the earliest, but crocuses, Siberian squill (Scillla siberica), and early daffodils are not far behind. Plan to make space for some of these early treasures. Bulb catalogs now arrive in spring, so you can order and plan where bulbs are to go in the garden while plants are up and growing. It’s also helpful to look at bulbs in the gardens of neighbors and friends for ideas and plants to try.
One of my favorite bulb sources is Brent & Becky’s, who grow bulbs over on the Western Shore in Gloucester, Virginia. (They have open houses, anyone up for a road trip?) In addition to a spring bulb catalog, they also have a summer bulb catalog with great cannas, dahlias, and other summer-blooming plants.
The snowdrops in my garden are the plane-Jane species, but I have been sorely tempted over the last few days by a fancier sort: Carolyn of Carolyn’s Shade Garden has been posting about rare snowdrops and the galanthophiles that prize them. The differences are subtle, but that’s to be expected for bulbs that bloom this early. I may have to add one or two of these treasures to the garden this season as part of my bulb build-up!