Sunday, March 18, 2007

Winter bloom

Maybe yesterday's greenhouse beauties were too gaudy for your taste - it's easy to be bold and beautiful when you're lovingly tended by paid staff and live in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment.

Is your preference instead for the frilly fragrant blooms of this witch hazel in the snowbound garden? Do you find their ruffled paper-confetti flowers more beautiful, or admirable, for their brash defiance of the snow and ice?

Just asking!

Maybe I'm looking for meaning where it doesn't exist, or playing with metaphors just to amuse myself, but not a single person paid any mind to this plant as they passed it by on their way into the greenhouses yesterday during my visit to the garden center. Primroses and pansies and coddled orchids were worthy of attention, but not this common plant putting on its vernal show for all to witness for free.

Spring is where you find it and, of course, where you choose to look. I'm at the point that any flower, or other sign of spring, however humble, causes me to stop and take notice. All the little steps away from winter bring us closer to warmth and the greening of the landscape.

When the retailers decide to flood the market with colorful flowers really has nothing to do with spring. If we followed them, we'd be celebrating Halloween in late August. We laugh at that idea, but are willing to buy into it in late March when we're desperate for an end to winter and cold. But if you have a garden or are attentive to the signs, even the green shoots of snowdrops and crocuses, without any blooms yet, can work their magic and convince you that spring is on its way, however reluctantly it comes sometimes.

The miracle of March is working, mostly unseen. By May, when all the world is green and humming with life, we'll have lost all sense of proportion. For now the first crocus or the simple witch hazel are a gentle reminder that spring isn't just a dream.

12 comments:

Mary said...

Laura, I agree. The nursery plants right now are just a tease. I'd rather gaze upon what you saw in that photo. It's just too early for late summer plants. We had a frost last night that stunned my canna, fern, and other plants - now they are unrecognizable. Sigh...

NatureWoman said...

Witch hazel is an amazing plant that I love to see! I'd much rather be outside looking at nature than inside a man-made environment.

threecollie said...

I love them all, the fussy indoors ones and the austere beauty of the early wild ones...however, I have only ever seen witch hazel in bloom one time...wish we had more of them around!

Body Soul Spirit said...

I have never seen a witch hazel plant. What a beautiful flower. I rarely buy showy baskets of flowers any more and prefer to cultivate my perennial garden rather than buying annuals each year. But flowers of any type are lovely.
Ruth

DK & The Fluffies said...

We are happy to provide a springtime hit for you until your snow melts. Daffies are in the header right now.

Cathy said...

Could you smell it, Laura? It's been a while, but I think I remember that it has a rather pleasant fragrance.

mon@rch said...

witch hazel is one of my fave's of tree's! But, can't wait to come across the snowdrops which are under snow right now! only a matter of time!

Anonymous said...

Longwood Gardens has a fantastic display of witch hazel this time of year (on the hill by the cafe). When I took a Conifer Class and we were walking around on a tree walk (in freezing February!) the witch hazels were so incouraging about spring to come. I have a red witch hazel outside a western window -- with the snow at sunset, it is a great scene of beauty.
Heather
Wayne, PA

Lynne said...

I've never seen witch hazel- it's lovely! I'm going to have to find out if it's winter safe in my zone (3-4).

Dave said...

Is this a domestic cultivar? The native witch hazel around here blooms in October and November. (And yes, it is one of my favorites.)

LauraHinNJ said...

Mary: Yes, they're teasing us!

Naturewoman: I'd agree.

threecollie: Thanks for stopping by! I love them all too, really. They don't seem to be very common - guess most people plant forsythia.

Ruth: Annuals are nice for their quick color - I've been trying to learn to grow some from seed to save some money - not much luck yet.

Diva Kitty: Ours will be blooming soon, but thanks for the peak at yours!

Cathy: Yes I did! Nice scent, but my nose was pretty numb!

Monarch: My neighbor has them blooming somewhere!

Heather: I can just picture them there on the hillside. If I lived close to Longwood I would have to visit once a month at least! I've seen the red variety in photos - I imagine it must be stunning in any light.

Lynne: I think the native witch hazel would be hardy for you, but that's the one that blooms in fall. It's pretty also, but I don't know that I've seen one.

Dave: I think it must be a hybrid with the Japanese witch hazel. I'll ask one day at the nursery. I've read that the native puts on a nice display, but the flowers bloom at the same time as the fall color develops on the leaves, so the effect is lost - do you find that to be true?

ReluctantChickenFarmer said...

I prefer the natural plants struggling to burst free of the snowy tombs rather than the pampered, fertilized, face lifted and overly adored green house plants. Any plant can grow in those conditions. It takes a "real man" of a plant to bust up from the snow to celebrate life's re-emergence and give us the slightest hint of color amongst the whiteness of the snow. Must be a political statement in there someplace.