Sunday, May 4, 2014

Back in Michigan

This past winter has been particularly long and hard throughout much of North America but I had not quite grasped how harsh it had been here at my parents' place in Michigan until I realized that the flower buds had frozen off most of the fruit trees and flowering shrubs - though not any of the magnolias. However, the peaches, apricot, and plum in our garden are sprouting only leaves, despite being thick with flower buds in the fall, and the forsythias only have a few yellow specks around the bottom foot or so of each bush - in other words, that part of the plant that was covered by snow all winter. Even so, we were lucky exactly because there was so much snow throughout winter. Always insulated by a foot or more of fluffy white stuff, most plants that were under the snow and not directly exposed to months of frigid air appear to have survived more or less unscathed. The needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) only appears to have lost a few leaf tips, the Japanese fiber bananas (Musa basjoo) are sprouting again and even perennials like Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) and Agapanthus seem to have made it.

Magnolia stellata 'Centennial', getting more floriferous

A frilly purple anemone

A Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica), on of our loveliest wildflowers, in the woodland adjacent to the backyard; the blue of the flowers is much more vibrant in real life than it looks in the picture

Thanks mainly to spring bulbs and some herbaceous perennials and biennials like primroses, cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), and honesty (Lunaria annua), there is a fair bit of color in the garden now, even with the damage to larger woody plants. Narcissi and hyacinths are the main bulbs; there are tulips, too, but many of them get nibbled on by deer and other critters before they actually get to flower. Almost all the spring-flowering plants in the garden now I have planted over the last couple of years but my absolute favorites at the moment are two clumps of a delicate, sweetly fragrant jonquil (!) narcissus that I inherited from the previous owners of the property. I believe it is the variety 'Trevithian', with rounded flowers of luminous saturated yellow carried two or three to a stem and emitting a strong scent more reminiscent of Oriental lilies than what I am used to from narcissi.

Narcissus 'Trevithian'

Some white narcissi I planted last fall

A deep blue hyacinth

A young hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus)

A primrose that has done particularly well

There is still room for loads more spring bulbs and early-flowering perennials, so hopefully the spring garden will only get more colorful in coming years. After winters like the last one lots of color is all the more bitterly needed.

1 comment:

  1. It must be nice to be home! Amazing that your Musa basjoo made it. Those critters are tougher than we think!


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