|Puschkinia libanotica alba and Iris reticulata with bergenia foliage|
Winter aconites (eranthis hyemalis) are the first to bloom. They will pop out of the earth as soon as even a small patch of snow is melted, while it seems that the ground must still be frozen. You have to know where to look for them to find them, but it's exhiliarating at that time of the year to see anything growing outside. In 2014 they bloomed on March 18, and by early April are already fading.
|Eranthis hyemalis (Winter aconite)|
Snowdrops follow soon in their footseps. These simple, elegant bulbs are much appreciated by humans and pollinators in this time of flower scarcity.
|Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop) in March|
Next in the race are the species crocus, such as crocus tommasinianus (tommies). These little fellows are spread with surprising vigor - this is the second year of this planting and they have at least tripled in number. The warm rosey-purple really catches the soft spring light.
Tiny delicate rock garden iris, like this iris reticulata, are not far behind the crocus. I love the blue color and elegant shape of the blooms. They also have a fantastic sweet fragrance! It doesn't carry and you will have to get right down on the ground and stick your face in them to smell it - an rewarding activity at this time of year.
|Iris reticulata 'Clairette'|
Large dutch crocus bloom a bit later than the small species types. They come in intense colors like deep purple and bright yellow.
|Crocus vernus (Dutch crocus) 'Flower Record'|
Puschkinia (Striped squill) are also beginning to bloom at this time. I have two types: the classic pale china blue Puschkinia libanotica, and the pure white form Puschkinia libanotica alba. The ruffly, feminine flowers make a fine contribution to the early spring garden, and they grow and increase easily.
|Puschkinia libanotica with the teensy dwarf evergreen Tsuga diversifolia 'Loowit'|
|Puschkinia libanotica alba with bergenia|
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) has also started in. I have the pink-flowered form planted among some lamium underneath my quince tree.
|Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'|
Finally, I have a daffodil blooming already! It's an ultra early variety called "Rijnveld's Early Sensation", and it is certainly sensationally early. It is short of stature, but the blooms are large and cheery. I have lots of other daffodils coming up, but this is by far the quickest to bloom.
|Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'|
Here is a view of my peony bed, which later will be filled to bursting with glorious tree peonies, lilies, and iris. Now it looks almost bare with nothing but a few scattered bulbs. Still, this first flash of color may be my favorite time of year, for the color is so precious now, and the earth is full of promise. Can you see the red new growth on the peonies?
|Peony bed in early April|