How Does Your Garden Grow?

What’s in bloom this month: March Edition

What does our garden look like this March? Blooms here and there with the promise of beauty and the lessons in patience.

Greenheart Orange

Greenheart Orange Calendula blooming in March in the perennial garden

In the garden, Greenheart Orange Calendula grow happily since January. Its Irish orange disk-shaped bloom has a short life per bloom, spindly stems, but the determination to be part of the garden despite my lack of love for it. I pick from the plants sprung in late winter from the seeds of its predecessors. It readily self-seeds. The subtly rust-colored and cream-colored calendula surrounded by those brazen orange blooms are so much more my favorites to put on show.

Madame Butterfly Snapdragon

Madame Butterfly Snapdragon blooming at the edge of the garden in March

One snapdragon, left from last season grows in the corner of another flower bed. I kick myself for not starting those seeds in the fall, but I can be merciful to myself remembering my reasons: life and toddlers. These are not window box snapdragons. Rather they burst into bloom with three by six inches tall clusters of burgundy purple flower heads. When I cut as early as recommended, the higher, later little blooms lose their color. They impress me more as neglected plants in the garden.

Halloween Halo

Halloween Halo Iris, first to bloom in the garden

A stray iris rose from its sheaves itself first. Halloween Halo appeared again and again as the startling early showy bloom of a spring that was supposed to be winter. Its white petals fringed with orange and an orange tongue at its center, offering pollen to bees and ornamentation to the eye, complement the warm tones of my living room and mantle.

Between the rain, fog then frost, my irises have black spot on many leaves. It remains to be seen what a year it will be. At least Halloween Halo gave us that gift of early spring. Hope comes with the return of longer days as the leaves multiple and grow. In the front of our house, a deep purple iris blooms repeatedly. It dislikes domesticity life and fades quickly in a vase.

We started seeds.

And half seedlings died in that late frost. My husband’s garden fared better as we prioritized space for his vegetables under the lamps in our potting shed/barn.

Leucojum Gravetye Giant

Leucojum Gravetye Giant, one of my favorite garden bulbs

Leucojum, sometimes called snow-drops, pushed through the piles Mulberry leaf-based mulch. They still impress me as one of the loveliest bulb flowers I have ever seen. To my delight, they multiply each year. On delicate arching stems, a foot-long in length, white bells, like a fairy’s skirt dotted with green at the hem, emerge looking as gracefully in the garden as in the vase. Their stems drip toxic sap like daffodils making them less companionable in an arrangement without special preparations.

Narcissus Barrett Browning

Narcissus Barrett Browning

Narcissus Barrett Browning bloomed with white outer petals and a feisty red-orange center. It came after the traditional yellow daffodil that reminds me of spring days watching the animated Alice in Wonderland. For a wedding-size bouquet, I added daffodils to a red amaryllis, greenheart orange calendula, the weedy fiddle neck, mint and boxwood.

Ranunculus comes next in orange or cream.

Orange ranunculus

These were pitiful or non-existent last year. As I weeded in the fall, I discovered three thick clumps. Those, I divided into to no less than thirty plants. Even with my bud vases full in the house, I have plant envy fomented from Instagram as I see the remarkable ranunculus professionals farm florists send out into the world.

But no roses

Professional growers are also beginning to display some rose blooms, but mine are still in early growth. Two second-year plants and five new bare-root roses are doing wonderfully well. When we visit, I peer across the lawn at my mother’s roses bushes to see if her roses might be ahead of mine. They are not. We must wait with anticipation for those first blooms.  

Patience, my child

It feels like that time may never come. But it will. The yarrow grows fluffier. More sprouts spring up. Acropolis Narcissus has nearly bloomed. The growing season is long, but with such short winters, we may suffer from more impatience because we never learned the skills to cope with the dormant season. I think of investing in a greenhouse, but where will we put it?

We tilled the soil around the sidewalk outside our house. I want to look out and see the flowers as I drum my fingers waiting for the next arithmetic answer from my 4th grader. Leave the housework, the schoolwork, and the fieldwork behind.

Leave the flowers to me.

Perennial garden at the beginning of spring

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