Posted on: February 20, 2017 | Written By: Doug Oster |
Love songs fill the air from trees above as birds compete for mates. All I can do is smile while laying on the soft earth photographing sky blue and purple snow crocus back lit by the morning sun. Not only am I enjoying a symphony of song birds, but these diminutive flowers explode with intense colors that are a welcome site, even in the middle of a mild winter.
The flowers will open in just a few hours patiently awaiting honey bees to make their first winter sojourn searching for an early taste of pollen. They are always a surprise as it seems impossible for something so beautiful to emerge so early.
Last year when just a few bloomed I was sure to make down in my garden journal, “plant 200 snow crocus.” That’s exactly what I did last fall. They must not be as early as these bulbs, I’m anxiously waiting to see them bloom.
Right next to them daffodils are sprouting. It’s nothing to worry about as they are just wondering is spring is here to stay. They usually stop as soon as things get cold again. I do have some of them with buds out of the ground. They are a variety which came with the house and are planted between the front sidewalk and brick siding. There’s a chance the buds could freeze when it gets cold again, but they have reliably bloomed for the past 18 years.
Even though there’s a week of warm weather, it’s too early to fertilize the lawn or dig in the vegetable garden. The best job now is pruning. Here’s a video that demonstrates how I do it. Take care to avoid spring bloomers as pruning many of them will remove buds which are preparing to flower.
That video was shot when the snowdrops, also planted close to the house, started blooming. The tiny white flowers are usually the first thing to bloom.
‘Flore Pleno’ are one of the earliest and have amazing double flowers. They look down at the ground, so I always pick a few, turn them upright and float them in water to display the small beautiful flowers.
Heleborus orientalis or Lenten Rose started to bud last week. This is very early and I wonder if the buds will survive a cold snap if it comes.
The plant provides early color in consort with crocus blooms that will come soon. The hellebore will hang onto the blooms long after the crocus have given up.
One of the wonders of the garden are “happy accidents.” A “giant” snowdrop bloomed right in front of a colorful planter. Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t produce something as nice as these accidents.
This is the time to plan for next year’s spring garden. Think about things that can extend your season and get them in the ground when the time is right. You’ll be so happy you did when they arrive as winter fades.
Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”