March is when the spirit needs a deep breath of peace. The winter is long, cold, and bitter. It teases with sunny days and punishes with freezing rain. Every glimpse of warmth and hope is but a flash that is here and then gone. But we know winter cannot last forever. March is the beginning of the end of winter. It is the almost-not yet, the push and pull of winter and spring. Neither wins out in March, but the dance of the two reminds us that change is coming. April will soon be here with daffodils, orchid iris, crocus and the first few brave tulips.
March is not without its beauty. Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) pushes through the fallen leaves and blooms like tiny recreations of the sun. They shine brightly at a mere 2 inches tall. Nearby blooms the first of the snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). These are the truly intrepid winter warriors. They care not if there is ice and snow all around them. They will arise from the earth in February and early March without fail. (I was tempted to neaten up the garden around the flowers before capturing their photos, but I left it as is to remind us all of the importance of the leaves in the garden. Leaves provide important protection and habitat for many insects. Remember: a clean garden is not a healthy garden.)
Another one of my favorite plants to visit in March is the witchhazel on the Shrub Walk. Witchhazel ‘Diane’ has been in bloom for a couple of weeks now. The whimsical orange-red streamer petals always bring a smile despite the cold wind coming off the bay nearby. This is a worthwhile plant to have in the home garden. A reliable winter blooming shrub is worth its real estate. Where else does one see such beauty this time of year?
To answer my own question: in the greenhouse! We have many winter blooming specimens currently on display. Although I have been busy starting seeds in the Propagation House, the main greenhouses have been home to lovely plants in full bloom. The bush lilies (Clivia) featured below are in their element in winter. We wait patiently all year and they reward us when we need it most.
My favorite specimen at the moment is many-flowered jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum). The flowers fill the whole greenhouse with their bewitching fragrance. One can understand why it is a popular perfume note. While it is in bloom, I inhale its scent every chance I get.
I will leave you with a couple other greenhouse gems. Fuchsia ‘Lillian Annette’ and Spanish shawl (Centradenia floribunda) adorn the greenhouse with their purple tones and graceful habits. I must conclude, after all this evidence, that March holds its beauty close. Tiny flowers hug close to the earth. Gorgeous tender plants blooming under glass. All is kept safe for now.