What have you in bloom?

March 11, 2014 @ 5:23 pm | Filed under: ,


As soon as spring is in the air Mr. Krippendorf and I begin an antiphonal chorus, like two frogs in neighboring ponds: What have you in bloom, I ask, and he answers from Ohio that there are hellebores in the woods, and crocuses and snowdrops and winter aconite. Then I tell him that in North Carolina the early daffodils are out but that the aconites are gone and the crocuses past their best..”

—Elizabeth Lawrence, The Little Bulbs

The photo is not of my garden; this lovely sight of a neighbor’s front yard left me breathless last April. I haven’t been down that street lately to see what may be in bloom, but the daisies and poppies are coming up in other yards around town. My own poppies are all leaf, not quite ready to set buds yet. But soon. And some of these small daisies have popped up quite unexpectedly in a large planter by my front steps, along with some adorable johnny-jumpups. Either they jumped up indeed, right into the pot, or it’s possible Rilla planted some seeds…she’s always finding an old half-full packet in a drawer somewhere (why do I only ever plant half the seeds in a packet?) and taking it upon herself to do a bit of Mary Lennoxing. Today it was freesia seeds, inherited from a friend, and some sweet peas and sweet william. I grow freesia from bulbs, not seed, so I’m eager to see if these come up. It’s turning wonderland out there, already…the lavender has gone supersized this year, the bees are quite drunk.

It’s the season when I have no choice, I must read gardening books. The Little Bulbs is mandatory at this time of year, when the freesia are tumbling everywhere. I could live on the scent of freesia. This bit to Miss Lawrence from her horticultural pen-pal, Mr. Krippendorf, one February day, made me laugh:

“I was surprised to hear of the paucity of bloom in your garden, as I once read a book by an Elizabeth Lawrence who listed quantities of plants that bloomed in February or even January in her garden (which she alleged was in Raleigh, North Carolina). We have quite a few snowdrops now, and some eranthis, in spite of the fact that the pool on the terrace freezes every night.” And later: “I have your letter dated Fourth Sunday in Lent but not mailed until Tuesday. You say you might as well have lived in Ohio this winter—that sounds almost scornful. Yesterday was a wonderful day, not too warm, and sunshine off and on. I have tens of thousands of winter aconites in the woods—bold groups repeating themselves into the distance, also the spring snowflakes, and Adonis amurensis.”

All this sudden color is the result of the few days of rain we had the other week, after a crispy, crackling, waterless winter. And I know so many of you in other parts of the U.S. have had a really dreadful time of it these past few months. I wouldn’t dare to ask Miss Lawrence’s question, above, but I’m starting to see hints on Facebook and Twitter of a crocus here, a narcissus there, and Mr. Krippendorf’s tens of thousands of winter aconites gave me courage.


Read today:

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (ahhh, deep delight)
Grace for President
Here Comes Destructosaurus (coming out soon, quite funny, wonderful Jeremy Tankard art)

Finished Where Angels Fear to Tread. Forster is tearing me up, lately. I had to read Howards End because of the Susan Hill book, and it wrung me inside out, and Angels hung me out to dry. In a good way, you understand.

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Leah H says:

    Crocuses and the early-type daffodils here in NW Arkansas. Oh, and a teeny tiny blue flower which I have just googled and found out its name is Birdseye Speedweel.

  2. Melanie B says:

    I thought our crocuses were coming up last week. But when I went out a few days later they were shriveled. Were they trampled by little feet? Buried under snow? I’m not sure. I’m longing for blooms and green. Our garden is still bare stalks buried in snow, though the snow is melting. And the children were running around outside barefoot today. Sophie was in shorts. Lucia was thrilled to wander about barefoot. She’s never walked around outside before!

  3. Rohan says:

    What a joyful garden! How lucky you are to have it nearby. It reminds me of Lois Ehlert’s lovely “Planting a Rainbow,” which was a favorite picture book around here when my kids were little. It will be May, probably, before we have that much color around here — one of the hardest things for me about having moved to the east coast from milder Vancouver.

    Somehow I have never read Howard’s End; you remind me that I need to make it a priority.

  4. sarah says:

    That garden is to die for!!! All those daisies…freshly cut flowers would be on every table of my house. Not much blooming here–I’ve never seen the daffodils poke through so late. I’ve eyed a few crocuses, and my bulbs are just starting to poke through. Can’t wait for the spring greening. It has been a long, grey winter here.

  5. Ellie says:

    Yeah no. :-p It’s snowing, currently. Heavy gray skies weighing down on us. I think i’ll have a little more coffee ….

  6. jep says:

    English cottage gardens are my very favorite of all gardens…lovely photograph. Makes me think of Barbara Cooney’s book Miss Rumphius. We have a Carolina Jasmine bush by our front door that is about to pop open its yellow blooms which is always a hopeful sign of coming Spring!

  7. Melanie B says:

    Snow falling today, all morning and into the afternoon. We were in heaven doing a bunch of snowflake observations, after a wonderful snowflake rabbit trail starting with Snowflake Bentley and then getting Bentley’s book with the photographic plates and then a Field Guide to Snowflakes, I think it was called. And then in the midst of our exclaiming over the snowflakes I spotted a couple of crocuses poking out of the snow next to the house, all closed up with the cold, but full of promise. Spring really is coming!!!

  8. Joann Estis says:

    Lissa, I think the Freesias will take two years to bloom – year one to form the bulb. If memory serves.
    Blooming in Alabama – trees budding out, but not the pecans yet so there is still danger of frost. According to old wisdom, when Easter is late, there is always a late freak freeze…
    Daffodils are finished, little violets. The seedlings from the $50 greenhouse (purchased not repurposed 🙁 )
    are ready to go out into the ground. With an eye to the thermometer for that freak freeze!
    Where I am now in western Missouri, there are crocuses, the cedars trees are flowering and many other trees are also budding out. The grasses are greening up and the ground is absolute slop so a good melt and thaw is underway. I have been tracking soil temps across the country for about two months here, http://dtn.msfb.org/index.cfm?show=1&mapID=20&showMenu=0
    It looks like things will be blooming soon everyhwere!