May Is Coming…But Don’t Miss the Flowers of March
My walk around the yard yesterday and today’s beautiful weather got me out there again this morning…and this time I was struck by the beauty of 3 flowers in particular. One bursting with color – Forsythia. Another dainty and intricate – Loddon Lily. And finally, a graceful addition cascading from my favorite vine – Evergreen Clematis. Sure, April showers bring May flowers, but don’t wait until then – enjoy the flowers of March.
Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Forsythia…most of the time. I’m not big on a bunch of color…particularly yellow (I prefer a more peaceful garden consisting primarily of whites and greens). It’s also a deciduous shrub. So like hydrangeas and other shrubs that lose their leaves, it’s just a bunch of stalks sticking up a good part of the year. But unlike some of those other deciduous shrubs, it’s blooming period is very short…depending on the weather, possibly only a week or two. And then after they bloom, because of their structure and unless you hand prune them, they can almost look like brambles.
Now I don’t mean to be all Doug Downer. I’ve included them in today’s post because this time of year they are profoundly beautiful and their burst of yellow is a nice change from what has been a very gray winter. Put in the right place and if you maintain their shape…in or out of bloom, this hardy shrub can be a nice addition to your yard. They love the sun and when grouped with others in a row or large drift along a bank or fence, they can really make a statement (for a couple of weeks, that is). Two other pluses of having Forsythia in your yard are: 1. if you like them and want more of them, they are very easily cultivated – either through cuttings or even by just taking one of the outer stalks…pulling it down to the ground (keeping it intact) and putting a brick on it – eventually it will take root…much like a hydrangea; 2. and speaking of cuttings, they make a great “cut flower” – take a few stalks and literally throw them into a tall vase of water…they are great way to bring the outside in.
Loddon Lily (or Spring Snowflake)
Even though my yard was a complete mess when we moved in 14 years ago, there was evidence that at one time there was someone who loved gardening. Although it took some love and moving things around a bit, some of my initial foundation plantings (Aucuba, Azalea, Nandina, Oakleaf Hydrangea, and Mohonia) were all thanks to the original homeowner. But it wasn’t until I cleared away all the English Ivy and looked very closely that I found one of my favorite gifts from the previous homeowner – Loddon Lilies. And it wasn’t until very recently that I looked closely enough to see the green dots on their petals that I realized that my lilies weren’t Lilly of the Valley…but its lookalike, the Loddon Lily. (Now I’m no botanist nor Master Gardener, but I don’t think that either are actually lilies at all. Can anyone verify that?)
Like Forsythia, you better enjoy this fairy-like perennial while they last…their dainty blooms only last about 2 weeks and after that all that’s left is a clump of green leaves coming up from the ground. They love moist soil, so if you have a woodlands environment with dappled sunlight Loddon Lilies would be a great addition to your landscape.
Evergreen Clematis…or Clematis Armandii when I’m trying to impress my friends, is my favorite vine for a number of reasons. First of all, as the name suggests, they are evergreen. I’m not a big fan of seeing a naked vine wrapped around structures…particularly if there is an evergreen option. You typically use a vine to cover something…so why would you want to still see it with vines wrapped around it a good part of the year. They are also great climbers and easy to care for…well, except for culling out brown leaves when they die. Speaking of their leaves, being longer and wider than your typical vine’s leaves, they add some interesting texture to your garden. But most of all, having a relatively shady back yard, I also love them because they are one of the few vines that do well…actually prefer, shade or partial sun.
But why I included them in today’s post is because of their fragrant, showy white, cascading blooms. We have two Clematis Armandii-ees (how do you make that word plural?) growing over a pergola outside our back door where we have our hanging daybed. Any vine added to a structure gives the impression that it’s been there for a while…but the Evergreen Armandii, with its long leaves and white blooms falling down between our pergola’s slats, adds ever more character and a bit of romanticism. Okay, I’ll shut up…can you tell I love them. If you don’t have one…I’d highly recommend that you do.
So there you have it…3 more plants that have gotten me excited to get back outside this spring. What are some of your favorite plants or flowers this time of year?
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