Friday, March 24, 2017

Stirrings of Galanthophilism

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing robin, sing:
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.
~Christina Rossetti

a patch of snowdrops in snow
I must admit, for a long time I just didn't get the whole love of snowdrops.  Snowdrops are so ardently beloved that gardeners are known to become obsessed with them.  These passionate snowdrop collectors even have their own name: Galanthophiles (Galanthus being the botanical name for the genus of snowdrops).  However, when I lived down south and could have the bolder and brighter crocuses and daffodils blooming by January or February, this little plant was just so easy to overlook.

However, after having snowdrops in my northern garden and seeing just what these tiny, early-blooming flowers can do, I can't help but be impressed.

In the time since they began blooming at the end of February, my patch of snowdrops has suffered through two snow storms and multiple days of below freezing temperatures.

One month later, they look a little worse for wear but are impressively still in bloom, opening their little battered wings during sunny warm spells in invitation to precocious pollinators.

Having leaves with specially hardened tips to break through freezing soil and containing special anti-freeze proteins to prevent ice crystals from forming and destroying the flowers, this surprising powerhouse of a plant is built to withstand that rocky transition from winter to spring.  The little blooms are even fragrant.

I might end up one of those enthusiastic, snowdrop-loving Galanthophiles yet.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Earliest Spring Arrivals

While we now have winter snow and freezing temperatures back in force, the previous days of warm spring weather we've been having were enough to see the earliest spring arrivals here.

Winter aconite - February 25

Crocus 'Romance' - February 28

Snowdrops - February 28

Pussy Willows - March 7

And last, but certainly not least...

Meet George and Charlie.
They are four-year-old brothers we adopted from the local shelter.  They are total sweethearts, and they are by far our favorite early spring arrival!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A South Indian Garden

It's been a mild weather here lately, but this winter we escaped for awhile anyway.  The past couple weeks we have been traveling and visiting relatives in much warmer southern India!

Mr. Red House's aunt lives near Bangalore (or Bangaluru, as it is now officially known by), and she is renowned for her welcoming spirit and gracious hosting talents, as well as for her beautiful garden.  I have visited here before, but only in the evening, so I was very excited to be able to enjoy the garden in daylight this time.

Come on in...

....preferably by following the walkway that travels under a thick canopy of flowering vines.

Who knows what you will find?  I believe this extraordinary flower is called 'Duck Plant' locally.  It is likely from the Aristolochia genus, a far relative of our Dutchman's Pipe vine.

One of my daughters checking out a water feature in the garden
The delightful walkway then leads one to the backyard's wide lawn, which is edged with garden beds, including a small waterfall with plantings.

Is that Sansevieria trifasciata (aka Mother-in-Law's Tongue or Snake Plant) I spy planted to the left of the waterfall?  It is so interesting to see plants in garden beds that I think of as houseplants here in our northern climate.  On the other side of the lawn is a more shady garden bed with a row of Peace lilies, another well-known houseplant here.

Though there are definitely also some plants I am less familiar with.  I was quite taken by what I believe is Euphorbia milii (aka Crown of Thorns).

Such vicious thorns, but such vivid flowers!

Another favorite was the Yellow Chalice Vine in front whose spectacular yellow flowers were almost as large as my head.

Yellow Chalice Vine
I also love surprises in the garden, and at the back of the yard there is quite a gem.  One's eye is drawn to the river of red Salvia that borders the back of the lawn...

which leads to a striking stand of Birds of Paradise standing amongst billowing pink Cosmos...

...but hidden behind the blooms is whole other garden.  If one peeks behind the flowers, one discovers a kitchen garden with divided plots for fresh herbs and vegetables.  I love it!

the vegetable garden
The property is bordered by trees and more flowering vines, including several different colors of Bougainvillea.

So many flowers, and such a pretty sight to see in winter!

It was so great to see relatives and visit places that we don't often get to see.  We are now back home in the States, recovering from jet lag, and looking forward to our own flowers in the rapidly approaching spring...

...though maybe still dreaming a bit of tropical blooms and fresh coconuts.

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