Yot is more important to have the first bloom on your block than the first tomato. The first outdoor bloom is a potent morale booster, signifying that the back of winter has been broken. However, to have the very first flower blooming in your neighborhood is not a matter left to chance. You must employ your powers of observation and your plant hunting skills to make this happen.
I have told you before to take photos of where the snow melts first. I noticed in previous years (and had taken a picture to remind myself) that the snow on one side of the front walk melted sooner than the other side. In the photo you can see why: the mounds of snow shade the left (southern) edge of the walk. The above photo was taken on Wednesday, and by yesterday (Saturday), a strip of the flower border, ten inches wide, was down to bare soil, where I could see the pale points of emerging crocuses and other bulbs.
These were not any old crocuses, but varieties of Crocus korolkowii, reputedly one of the earliest blooming varieties, and hardy to USDA Zones 3/4. (If you know of an earlier blooming species that is equally hardy, please let me know.) I cleared away some dead vegetation nearby and can tell you the soil was still frozen solid. Frozen soil doesn’t faze the earliest spring bloomers. A friend of mine scraped the snow away and discovered her de ella winter aconites (eranthis spp.) in full bud.
But even when you get location and varieties right, weather still plays a big part in when you actually get that first bloom. Not only did we fail to get any sun yesterday, but today it’s snowing and those promising crocus sprouts are once again buried under an inch of snow. Sorry, no outdoor blooms for this bloom day, though I did come close. That photo at the top? Same crocus, taken on February 6, 2012, which was a very mild winter.
At least my houseplants haven’t let me down. I was wrong about the ‘Cherry Nymph’ amaryllis. I thought after two flower stalks with multiple buds it was done, but no–it has sent up a third stalk with four flower buds. How do those folks at Longwood Gardens do it?
The same orchid and African violets are blooming as they have been since December. My Christmas cactus had a second flush of bloom. The AeroGarden continues to chug out herbs. Yawn. I am more than ready to see this snow gone and for mud season to begin. Not familiar with mud season? Read up on it here: Mud Season Archives.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.
In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.
in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons