The first day of spring couldn’t have come soon enough, although winter’s waning days were nothing short of halcyon — those teaser days when waterlogged memories of drenching, consuming rain evaporate from my consciousness merely by a rise in temperature, an extension of daylight, and the welcome return of blue skies and fluffy clouds. Rain? What Rain?
The crocus petals have melted back into the earth like wet tissue, as the daffodils and narcissi rise to the occasion of spring, trumpeting the new life, color and vigor in the garden. Narcissi (daffodils) are strong performers this time of year, naturalizing well in the landscape and requiring little if any maintenance. Allow them to die back naturally, that is don’t cut their leaves back as they are the photosynthetic engines that fuel next year’s blooms. Oh and did I mention, daffodils are completely deer-proof. Yep, deer don’t touch them, ever. (Actually, each generation may nibble one or two buds, but that will be their last time of doing that.)
Leucojum Aestivum, or giant snowflake as it’s also known, is another dreamy naturalizer that deer don’t seem to savor. Unlike its mini-me version, galanthus or snowdrop, Leucojum towers anywhere from 18 – 24 inches, displaying nodding little bell flowers with distinct green dots at the end of each petal. I love them.
Narcissi come in all shapes and sizes, in fact bulb purveyor John Scheepers and the Daffodil Society designate 13 classifications. The narcissus “Replete” shown above is a showgirl in bloom, with double ruffles and a can-can kick of color.
Narcissi “Tazetta,” delicate little wands of light, offer a dreamy fragrance for anyone wishing to dip a nose in their direction.
Fritillaria persica, or Persian Lily as some call it, rises above the garden mulch, tall and proud, green and showy. This is my first year of growing them, so I’m a bit weary of how well they’ll grow here in the Pacific Northwest. Winter rot is always a problem with delicate bulbs. Of six bulbs I planted only one bloomed, so I will mulch with extra rich compost to help bring them to bloom next year.
Growing peaches in the Pacific Northwest is a real challenge due to our cool days, dry summers and heavy spring rains. I’m trying a few dwarf varieties in my greenhouse to thwart our climatic shortcomings (at least for the peach). Even without fruit production, these trees are beautifully ornamental.
As a boy growing up in South Carolina, I marveled at the variety and bombastic nature of camellia blossoms, so pretty and floriferous, they almost look fake. So glad camellias thrive in the Pacific Northwest.
The candy-cane-splash of a camellia above arrived as an accidental (albeit welcomed) seedling in my garden. It tagged along in a pot of a named variety of camellia called Debutante. If anyone recognizes the variety above, do tell, do tell.