Saturday, February 18, 2017

I Saw a Bumblebee Today!

Funny how when your a gardener, little things like a bumble bee flyover can raise the ole endorphins. 

Although those of us gardening here in the mid-Willamette Valley fared better than points north and south of us, the garden is still an abysmal mess and it's causing me consternation. I am just not my typical pre-spring gung-ho self.

Wait. I figured it out just now by going back to look at last year's mid-February photos. Interestingly, many plants that are still sleeping this year were already breaking dormancy. And the Pulmonarias were actually blooming already. 

And just to further that ah-ha insight, Matt Z., a Portland weather guy just commented that last year at this time we had already had six, sixty-degree days! Six! I don't think we've had one this year. He went on to say that this is the difference between an El Nino winter, last year and a LaNina winter this year. 

So, it's not all in my head. Whew. 

Now on to plants. My Sarcococca has been blooming since early February. The fragrance is intoxicating and here's a hint: if you leave the cut flower stems in water, they'll root so you can have more plants. 

Sarcococca ruscifolia

The first winter bloomer for me was Winter Sweet or Chimonanthus praecox. It too is a feast for the nose with a delicious scent.  

Chimonanthus praecox

I found this Daphne last year at Bauman's in Woodburn while my sister and I were plant shopping. It's done really well so far. The buds are just beginning to pop. And the fragrance is lemony-sweet.

Daphne odora 'Marianni' 

Daphne odora 'Marianni' 

Despite the torrential rain last week, my early Crocuses seem unscathed and happy to see a reprieve.




A very humble clump of Crocus

Yellow Crocus

Ditto the snow drops...

Galanthus or Snow drops

Galanthus sp. or Snow drops

This might sound sacrilegious to fellow gardeners but I am not a huge hellebore fan. If I buy one, it's because I like the foliage. Last spring, Lowe's had this eye-catching variegated hybrid on clearance so I bought three of them. Who can resist those leaves? 

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Now I'm seeing the flowers for the first time.
Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Here are the flowers. Despite not being passionately in love with them, I find the inner circle really fun. Observe how they fan out as they mature.

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Ruby Glow'

I'm so impressed with how Gardenia 'Frostproof' handled the winter cold. There are a few tips that were frostbitten but for the most part, all is well.  

Gardenia jasminoides 'Frostproof'

After losing my Podophyllum pleianthum during the second half of that horrid 2013-2014 winter cold, I found a baby plant for cheap last year. See it here, starting to take on the world. It's way ahead of my in-ground P. 'Spotty Dotty.' 

Podophyllum pleianthum

My yellow-flowered Polygala has been blooming since December-ish and there are still lots of buds. Unfortunately though, the leaves took a hit from Old Man Winter and look like crap.  

Polygala chamaebuxus

My purple and yellow spring-flowering Polygala 'Kaminiski' seems to have handled the winter better. And it has buds. 

Polygala chamaebuxus var. grandiflora 'Kaminski'

Another plant that I'm really impressed with is evergreen maidenhair fern. I had to have it after seeing it growing in several gardens last summer. My plant is still small so I put it in a pot for now. It sailed through winter on my covered patio.  

 Evergreen Maidenhair Fern or Adiantum venustum

Moonglow Sedum also stayed on my covered patio and looks like perfection.

Sedum confusum 'Moonglow'

Ever so slowly a few plants are starting to wake up. I love the swishes of pink on my baby Sobaria leaves.

Sobaria sobarifolia

Sobaria sobarifolia

And an illustration of last year versus this year: 

Pulmonaria 'Reginald Kaye'  2016

Pulmonaria 'Reginald Kaye' 2017

Finally, on warmer evenings, the frogs are croaking which is a sure sign of spring. And, look what I spotted in the pond the other day. 
Tadpole eggs!

Are you seeing signs of spring?


  1. Whaaaaa? Not a hellebore fan? We'll get you yet Grace! I, too, was thinking about the difference in temps this year vs last. I was looking up in my notebook and making note of things blooming already last year but not this. Interesting. Spring is waking up in your garden, I love those sedums that sailed through winter for you. So bright and cheery!

  2. Once again, another lovely post about what is blooming in your gardens. I love seeing your gardens starting to awaken after winter.

    Not much of a winter down here in s.e. FL this year.

    Have a lovely Sunday and a GREAT week ~ FlowerLady

  3. I purchased a large Sarcococca last fall at a local nursery that was going out of business. I notice that there are a few blooms on it but I swear I cannot detect a fragrance. Maybe it just doesn't have enough blooms yet. I like hellebores but they are always so expensive that I tend to bypass them. I love the maidenhair fern.

  4. Wow you've got a Podophyllum peeking out? Your garden is way ahead of mine Grace. And damn yes I am missing those 60 degree days!

  5. Wow, I was enamored with your Polygalas upon first sight. I grow P. fruticosa but I've never seen the species in your post; however, Sunset has confirmed my suspicion that I don't have a chance in heck of growing those here. We've been colder - and much, much rainier - this winter too but we have nothing on you in the PNW in terms of winter challenges. The winter rain continues here but spring is also making appearances all over the garden. I just cut an armful of calla lilies this morning and discovered that the finches are, once again, building nests under our roof eaves.

  6. An early spring is a delightful thing, especially when the bumblebees show up!

  7. Oh gosh, you have so many beautiful blooming things! Nothing is blooming yet in my garden, but we are having record highs in the 60s for an entire week. So, it won't be long now. I'm actually worried that the plants will get too far along and then freeze. This is so very strange for us in February! Usually, we're skiing and shoveling snow this time of year!

  8. We have been hearing one lonely little's one of my all-time favorite sounds. Soon he will be joined by the whole chorus and it will be deafening (in a good way).

  9. OMG Gracie Girl .. you would never survive it here .. it is a long long lone winter .. but ? Garden PA saw robins which is a little too early yet .. we are having weird warm weather .. it was 12 degrees on Sunday and will be staying until this coming Sunday .. it is waking up trees and shrubs that should stay asleep yet.
    I have a few marbled hellebore as well but I am still a sucker for the plain leaved ones because I love the flowers no matter what.
    Seeing a Bumble Bee is wonderful !!! and smelling those exquisite scents from those exotic (to us) plants is such a bonus ... no matter what shape you think yur garden is in it is fantastic to me girl !
    Take care !
    Joy : )

  10. i never realized there were Maidenhair Ferns to grow that are not the native northwest fern and i know i can get some because little prince grows it. i still suspect fussiness. should i really be avoiding daphne because i have heard it is difficult to grow? the scent is wonderful.

  11. We've seen tons of signs of spring and that's the problem! It should be significantly colder than it is now. Yikes! We've had very little winter. :o( I was hoping for some big snow storms. Waaahhh!!!

  12. Hi Grace! Lovely blooms you have there!
    My maidenhair fern was eaten by bunnies. I've never thought they'd like it. But, after seeing my young Japanese aralia plants being eaten (some leaves are on the ground, but the very tops of the plants are gone), I believe they'd eat anything!
    My new Podophyllum can't be seen yet. I hope it survived!
    Have a happy, warm March!


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