Brave Souls

I like to think that the creators of our current calendar were trying to be kind when they made February the shortest month of the year. In all truthfulness, March has historically been my least favorite month – but February runs a close second. Until I started working in the greenhouses here at Blithewold, that is. February is a flurry of activity here. When the world seems frozen solid outside, our greenhouses are full of beauty, new life (seedlings!), and lots of garden planning.

The frozen world outside is also full of life – if you know how to find it. February is when the snowdrops (Galanthus) emerge. These tiny flowers love the dry shade garden near the moongate. The deciduous Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum) provides plenty of shade during most of the year, but also allows sunshine through when the snowdrops come into bloom in February and March. (To enjoy snowdrops in your own garden, plant the bulbs in the fall in an area that will be shaded through the summer.)

A snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) bud emerging despite the icy snow.
Snowdrops in early February in the Dry Shade Garden.

Not too far from the snowdrops, hellebore buds are also starting to peak out at us from the light snow cover.

Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’

A small stand of crocus has been sheltering by the rock wall near the greenhouse for a few years now. I noticed the sweet purple buds this morning and was filled with a wave of joy. It’s that time of year when every new flower is like a dream.

Down the Shrub Walk the witch hazels are full of their bizarre blooms. I almost wonder if they bloom now so we have nothing to compare them to; and, therefore, we appreciate them more than we would if they bloomed in May (with far too much competition to be truly noticed). The crepe-paper flowers are certainly strange, but I find myself be-witched by them every winter (an unavoidable pun, I’m sorry).

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’
H. ‘Diane’ with a multitude of blooms.

When the winter doldrums begin to set in, remember that there is still a world of hope and beauty outdoors. Dress warm and take a walk to soak it all in. Your heart and mind will thank you.

*Pictured at top: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold’s Promise’