February GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

“Spring-blooming” hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum, sends out its first bud

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the end of winter an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in January and February like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?  Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s icy outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the hardy cyclamen (pictured above), which I discovered during my own chilly inventory.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank, photo courtesy of Winterthur

If you need ideas, visit local arboretums and gardens.  I always find a trip to Winterthur, an elegant and intimate public garden in Delaware, highly inspirational and informative.  Starting March 1 when Winterthur opens for spring, the area of the gardens known as the March Bank erupts into bloom with tens of thousands of snowdrops, adonis, winter aconite, snow crocus, early scillas, glory-of-the-snow, spring snowflake, and early daffodils.

Snowdrops and winter aconite on Winterthur’s March Bank in early March, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Later in March, glory-of-the-snow, Chionodoxa, takes over, photo courtesy of Winterthur

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for February when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are a few more highlights from my mid-February stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Very early-blooming double white hellebore, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’

Bearsfoot hellebore, Helleborus foetidus, was waiting under the ice

Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriena var. humilis, prepares to perfume the garden

‘Jacob’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, began blooming in October and has waited patiently under the snow and ice for a chance to show its flowers again

The lowly Japanese pachysandra, P. terminalis, forms its flowers the previous season adding winter interest to its evergreen leaves

The flower buds of hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, wait for the hard-packed snow to melt, in warmer years they would be in bloom now

Some hybrid hellebores are farther along than others

Giant snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, was the first flower through the snow in 2011 (see Are Snowdrops Thermogenic?) and was also blooming in December

With our near record-breaking snowfall accompanied by generous doses of ice (see The Joys and Sorrows of Snow), I wasn’t planning on participating in February’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  But when I grabbed my camera and walked around, there was much to be seen.   In addition to the flowers, there was more than enough views of the destruction of the winter by nature and otherwise.

Remnants of the white pine and coral bark maple branches lost this winter

The signs marking my epimedium collection after the ravages of my three snowboarding teenage sons.

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your winter garden.  If you participated in GBBD, please provide a link so my nursery customers can read your post.


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I am currently accepting orders for snowdrops, including  mail orders.  For the catalogue and order information, click here.  I am also taking reservations for Charles Cresson’s Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants Seminar.  For the brochure and registration information, click here.

80 Responses to “February GBBD: Add to Your Spring Shopping List”

  1. Be still my spring heart, Carolyn! At this point, I can only visualize snoozing plants under a heavy blanket of snow.

  2. It’s great to see all of those blooms popping out of the snow and ice. And I love hellebores. Good to know they are so hardy. Your last post on the possible thermogenesis of snowdrops was great too. Happy bloom day.

  3. Hi Carolyn, I hope your epimediums are in better shape than their signs! Thank you for the reminder that I need to add pachysandra to my list and plant some cyclamen coum. In my GBBD post you will find snowdrops, crocus and iris reticulata, one hellebore in full flower the rest just buds. Encouraging though!

  4. gardeningasylum Says:

    Congratulations on having blooms in February – lovely early hellebores! Even with the warm weather yesterday, in central CT we’ve got +2 feet of snowpack still. I’m showing indoor bloomers this month, needless to say – here’s the link http://gardeningasylum.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/on-bloom-day-eve/

  5. Looks like you had some snow melt. We did a bit, but all bulbs are still tucked snuggled in the soil. You have a lot of promise there and next month will have quite a show. I liked your artsy shots of your blooms too.

  6. All the buds and bulbs are slowly showing their beautiful heads waiting for whatever warmth from the sun with a promise of a full show when spring comes. I love snowdrops and hellebores. Happy Blooms Day!

  7. Carolyn, Can it really be that you are just up in Maine with all these blooms. I guess this is island life. I have very thick 2-3 feet blankets of snow covering the landscape here in Western Massachusetts. We are have warm days . . . a February thaw!! Lovely to see your buds and blooms.

    • Carol, Now I really have you confused. My nursery and home and the sight of the GBBD photos is in Pennsylvania. I run the invasive plant program on a small island in Maine where my family has a summer home so that ‘s why my comments reference Maine. Carolyn

  8. How encouraging to see some blooms emerging in our area!

  9. Dear Carolyn, I think by next weekend the thaw may have reached the Poconos. Your pictures reinforce the hope that it is so. P x

  10. You have some lovely cold country flowers which we never get to see in these parts. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  11. Oh! I haven’t been to town lately — usually the garden centers have florists’ cyclamen and I always look for the rare fragrant one for Valentine’s Day.
    I have daffodils!


  12. Carolyn – I keep trying to create shade. Your garden is an inspiration! It will be a while before I do any planting but I am resolved to plant hellebores this spring.

  13. Even though you still have snow on the ground, you have many signs that spring is just around the corner. Here the longer days make me feel so much better. i know we could have more Winter weather but at present I’m looking forward to all the buds and shoots growing and blooming and seeing everyone else’s blooms too. I love Hellebores but its too hot for them here. Christina

  14. Lydia Plunk Says:

    What a lovely assortment of plants are breaking through the snow!

  15. Wow! What wonderful February blooms Carolyn! Happy Bloom Day!

  16. aloha,

    what a beautiful walk, the gardens at winterthur are spectacular with these blooms. your photos of the plants starting to come out are wonderful

    thanks for sharing this today

  17. Alas, the only thing I have blooming in my yard are the faithful pansy I put out for winter color. The poor little things work their heart out for me. I need to go through with your suggestion and walk around the yard to put in some perrenials that will add color next winter.

  18. Okay, it’s official. I must plant some Hellebore! Also, I am in love with Snowdrops, though I haven’t gotten around to planting any yet. I have been at my home for less than 3 years and did a major overhaul on the entire property. The only major thing I’m lacking is these wondering late winter/early spring bloomers. This is also the first time I’ve participated in GBBD, and I’m like a kid in a candy store finding all these garden blogs and seeing what’s in bloom! Thanks for venturing out there and snapping these shots to share with us! I hope you can come see the few things that are in bloom at my house!

  19. Carolyn, what beautiful blooms! While I’ve been sequestered downstairs, starting all of my heirloom veggies for work, I’ve neglected enjoying the garden pre-spring. I’m so glad to find GBBD, which reminded me to head outside for a stroll and check on my blooming babies. (I’m sorry, I had to chuckle a bit at the teenage snowboarders’ path!) Look forward to browsing your catalog, because we live in a forest!

  20. The pictures of the naturalized bulbs are just stupendous! And how I enjoy your hellebores. I planted some last year but am not sure they will ‘take’. I’ve never seen them in this area, but thought they were worth a try!

    My first participation on GBBD was today. A camellia bud.

  21. Hi Carolyn, Happy GBBD! I love the shots showing the expanse of naturalized spring bulbs. I have yet to acquire any hellebores, and after seeing your gorgeous ones, I think I will have to add them to my wish list.

  22. Always shocking to my southern eyes to see photographs of blossoms pushing up through snow. That’s some tough plants.

  23. Carolyn: You are just a bit ahead of me for emerging plants and blooms. I hope to participate in GBBD next month. But the snow is melting fast with our recent warm days — 50 degrees in Wisconsin in February. Nice!

  24. Carolyn,

    Great post! I especially love the hillside pictures at Winterthur. I have some slopes that would be just perfect for something similar. Some great ideas!

  25. Okay, I’m convinced. I have nothing blooming in my garden right now; clearly I need to add some of these! 🙂

  26. Hi Carolyn,
    Your photos are breathtaking! Our local Master Gardener’s group took a
    spring garden tour to Winterthur last year in May. I was so sorry that I was unable to go but I enjoyed the photos they brought back.
    I have snowflakes blooming in my garden now and in fact they have been blooming for over a month. I often confuse snowflakes with snowdrops but I know they are two different bulbs. I do love all the early bulbs!

    • Dorothy, Winterthur is a great place to visit at any time. Snowflakes (Leucojum) are colored like a snowdrop but look like an upside down teacup with no interior petals. Snowdrops (Galanthus) have inner and outer petals/segments. My snowflakes aren’t blooming yet but I enjoyed seeing yours. Carolyn

  27. I love seeing all those blooms determined to flower despite all the snow. I planted Snowdrops last fall and am hoping they will bloom, no sign of them yet.
    I have a GBBD post up. Sarcococca, Hellebores, Pansies, Pulmonarias.

  28. Carolyn. Great to see your hellebores being born. (Impressed that you look after all those plants & 3 sons). I noticed that your flowers face downwards with a definite hook shape at the stem. One of my hellebore plants does this (I need to peer at it from underneath), the other has upright flowers (I can see it from my kitchen window). I love them both!

  29. It’s so wonderful to see the snow thawing and reavealing the early workings of springtime underneath! Happy Bloomday!

  30. Your the first garden blogger I have read who has snowboarding issues. I am sure next month’s post will be different. Happy GBBD!

  31. Hmm, if hellebores in PA have such large buds already, I should have prodded around mine more. (They’re under leaf litter right now.)

    I have Cyclamen hederifolium and like its fall blooms, but always think they look like they really belong to spring. Maybe I should be growing C. coum instead.

    • I am sure the hellebore buds are there under the leaves. Cyclmen coum is very beautiful but much picker than C. hederifolium, which is fairly easy to grow. C. coum requires a very well drained and dry site. The plant I photographed is growing between London plane tree roots. Carolyn

  32. So nice to see the signs of REAL blooms in your garden, Carolyn. My hellebores are still buried under four feet of snow–it will take some major thawing this week before I can see anything green under all the white. I have already vowed to take more photos this spring–last fall I couldn’t remember where I needed more bulbs!

  33. Carolyn, thanks for a look at Winterthur and the sleeping beauties just waking in your garden. I need to try some Cyclamen coum under my fringe tree/chionanthus.

  34. Carolyn, its now four weeks since we had the last snowfall, still no flowers worth showing yet though. I did visit a friend who has a garden in the city centre and his plants were very much more advanced than ours, Snowdrops fully in flower, Polyanthus with a few flowers also Violas and Daffs.

  35. No shortage of blooms in your neck of the woods-despite the chill and snow. Just lovely. I’ve always admired landscapes like Winterthur but as a lawn lover too I shy away from planting in the lawn with only two exceptions-a stand of daffodils and some spots of crocuses. It drives me crazy leaving the grass up with the daffodils until May! I just can’t help it. Though the snowdrops and aconites might disappear be grass cutting season. Hmmmm, might be worth a try. It’s so pretty. I wish I could see it in person. We are heading up north to Maine this summer but I don’t think we’ll be by Delaware. I used to go be there all the time when I lived in NC. Sigh.

    Thanks for the info on the raspberries. I so hope they do well in that part shade. So many trees here it is a problem. Good to hear yours are successful.

    • Tina, The area that you saw in the Winterthur photos is not lawn. It is a woodland, and I am not sure what happens after the bulbs are done. I am going there in March so I will find out. Your place looks like it has some woods. You could plant all these bulbs there. Carolyn

  36. I love the snowdrops and winter aconite on that slope. How I’m looking forward to seeing some bulbs in my own yard.

  37. I can see why you like to visit Winterthur-all the pictures are lovely, but I particularly like the gnarled tree in the first one. Winter-blooming plants blow my mind. What are they doing poking their delicate selves up into the icy, snowy world like that??

    Here’s my GBBD post from Hawaii: http://subliminalintervention.blogspot.com/2011/02/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-february-2011.html

  38. Beautiful! seems like spring is coming to you already!

  39. Still waiting for my garden to wake up, though we are expecting more freezing temps tonight. Your pictures certainly got my adrenaline moving and now I am impatient for spring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: