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After sleet, snow, ice and 6 degrees, my February Gold daffodils can still lift their heads.

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Amazing–since this winter that won’t end has nearly flattened me–

Flowers that bloom at this time of year have to be study. And our recent cold, icy weather has certainly put them to the test.

My (splendid) winter-blooming trees, Prunus mumue and winter sweet have lost their flowers to the cold. Don’t worry. The plants will survive but the blossoms are gone for this year.

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Not so for my February Gold.

survior_lenten rose and daf

Is any color more hopeful than yellow?

It’s snowing again in Wake County this morning. Enough already. Please hurry Spring!!

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It’s hard to find a prettier picture this time of year than early daffodils under a Carolina blue sky. And you can bet the bulb companies know this. Their catalogs are full of stunning close up photos.

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But in the landscape, it’s a very different story. It takes a ton of bulbs to make a splash in our Apex (NC) woods.

So I’m really happy that all the work and money I’ve spent on daffodils over the years is finally paying off.

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Of course there have been some casualties along the way. None of the double daffodils I planted survived more than a few years. Ditto–the late season varieties. Our woods leaf out too early for them to store energy for the next year.

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But a few varieties have proved to be big winners for me, returning year after year, and blooming their hearts out without any care. My daffodil stars are:

February Gold
Ice Follies
Thalia
Hawera

What about you? I’m always looking for new daffodil varieties to light up the woods here in zone 7-B. What are your daffodil stars?


FINALLY…I see some flowers.  white H

I must admit, I have been totally uninspired to garden or to blog about gardening, despite some gloriously beautiful weather this winter season.  I finally figured out why.  There were no flowers in my garden.

Co-blog partner Christine Ramsey, always said that it is much easier to have a beautiful garden in the spring, but to have a beautiful garden in the winter…now that is a feat.

She is totally right.

Here are 5 lessons I have learned about inspiration and winter gardening.

  1. Don’t put you best winter flowers out of sight.  That’s right. These Hellebores have been blooming since the first of January, but they are on the side of my house I never go.  You can’t see them from a window inside, but they are beautiful.  Note to self and others…move these in a place you can see every day.purple H
  2. Early daffodils can do wonders to your garden mood.  As soon as these February Golds bloomed, I was instantly inspired to get back in the garden.  Even if it was to only weed…it made me want to be out there.FG D
  3. Blooming winter shrubs with fresh fragrance can transport you to memories of spring.  This Wintersweet in the front of my house, is not only beautiful, but when I go to the mail box I smell the sweet aroma and instantly get excited of the blooming season to come.wintersweet
  4. Plant more evergreens. That’s right…often evergreens don’t have showy blossoms, but they will make all the difference when your deciduous plants have died back in your garden.  I definitely need to plant more evergreens to provide needed structure to my garden, but also to keep it from looking so barren.
  5. Don’t skip the annuals.  I made a conscience choice this season to skip the annuals.  I was way too busy and just decided I didn’t have it in me to plant them.  Bad mistake.  Because I don’t have some of those lovely pansies by my mailbox or in some of my beds, I miss the winter flowering treat they provide.

Take it from me.  It is important to plan for a winter garden to keep your inspiration mojo pumped. Review these 5 lessons and take pictures now of your garden, so you can prepare your game plan for the spring planting seasons.

Happy Gardening.

melissa


When I started growing  Lenten Roses (Helleborus) almost 30 years ago, white and green flowers were the only colors available.   daffocils_helborusThank plant breeders for these darker strains–seen here with my favorite daffodil, February Gold.daffoils_foliage

My second favorite daffodil, Ice Follies, is blooming early this year.   Most of the time it comes into flower by my niece Becky’s birthday, March 6th.  The flowers have a wonderful fragrance, so I always cut a bunch for the house.daffodil_vaseHere’s another February milestone–

The year’s first cut flowers always end up in the rabbit vase.   A gift from our nephew Bob many, many years ago–the boy is now 6 foot 4, living in Costa Rico and well past his bunny loving stage–it is still a welcome tradition at our house. 

There’s nothing like the first flowers of the new season.  How do you celebrate them?


It’s time to buy daffodils, and while it may look like I have enough of this splendid, easy to grow bulb, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough.  Never. 

Daffodils shine in my deciduous NC woods.  They look beautiful in vases and add fragrance to the house.

And Daffodils come back year after year in larger, carefree clumps– if you buy the right ones for gardening in the South.

Here are some of my favorites:

February Gold:  If I could only grow one daffodil, this would be the one.  It has bloomed as early as February 2nd here and the flowers last for weeks and weeks.  (Great for putting in little vases for Valentines Day gifts.)

Ice Follies:  Stunning bi-colored flowers that usually appear by my niece’s birthday, March 6. Larger than Feb. Gold but more easily knocked over by  hard rains, snows, freezes.  At the worst, the stems will bend and I cut armfuls of flowers for the house.

Carlton:  Another large cup daffodil like Ice follies, it’s pure yellow, very sturdy, beautiful, and popular.  Another must have.

Geranium:  Multi-booms per stem, this is the most fragrant daffodil I grow.  Love it!

Hawera:  My latest daffodil, blooming in early April.  Small and charming and a reliable late bloomer for the South (which is hard to find.)

My favorite source is Terra Ceia Farms in Eastern NC.  They sell great bulbs with bulk pricing to greedy gardeners like me.

Bret and Becky’s is another excellent Southern daffodil grower and between the two, I can find anything I want.

Last time I checked, both have real people who answer the phone and give helpful advice, another big plus for me.

Two more tips for daffodil growing:

Order sooner, rather than later.  I write: Order Bulbs!!! on my October Calendar and try to get it done by Halloween or at least mid November before the best varieties sell out.

And finally, try something new every year.  Quail and Jetfire are the newbies  at our house for 2011.   But I was torn.  So many splendid daffodils, so little time…

Any suggestions? Please share your favorites.

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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