February Garden Update


February has come and gone, but with it came a hint of spring. Actually, February IS spring. In the middle ages, before printed calendars, people told time by the seasons and lunar cycles. What we call the first day of a season is actually the high point, the middle. When the “start” of summer falls on June 21, why then would you have the old English holiday of Midsummer’s Night on June 24? Maybe because June 24 IS Midsummer?

Consequently, we celebrate the beginning of spring with the coming of the groundhog and the beginnings of the bulbs to poke their noses up through the frozen mulch:

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The biggest splash this year, however, definitely was the Barmstedt’s Gold Witch Hazel which began blooming in mid-January. It performed admirably, and as desired, next to the sango kaku maple with its coral red bark:

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It could be a little taller, but it will get there! It also looked quite handsome with an evergreen camellia behind it:

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So successful was the performance of the witch hazel that we determined more were in order, to brighten up the gray February days. So, off we went to the Hamamelis Festival. What is a hamamelis, you ask? Why, it is the Latin genus name for the witch hazel and every February these lovely flowers are celebrated the Rare Find Nursery in Jackson, New Jersey. There, the witch hazels were in full bloom and we were able to expand the collection. First, another yellow: the lovely “Pallida” which was said to be the favorite variety in Europe:

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A bold, bronzy-orange variety, “Cyrille”:

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The coppery-orange “Jelena,” the color I originally wanted and for which you need to read the January Garden Update for the story. This is the real “Jelena”:

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The not-quite copper, not-quite yellow “Vesna”:

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And the luminous yellow “Sunrise”:

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This has tiny flowers that, in the sun, are a pale yellow. On a gray, cloudy day, however, they positively glow luminous yellow.

Along with the witch hazels, we also came back with this pretty, a Mount Aso pussy willow:

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This picture proves you CAN have color in your garden in February!

In addition to the witch hazels and the pussy willow, the reliable bulbs began putting in their appearances. The snowdrop that lives by the front step:

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Some crocus:

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Not nearly as impressive as our neighbor’s crocus, however:

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And, of course, into every February, some snow must fall. This was after an 8-incher that we had:

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The Barmstedt’s Gold proved remarkably resilient, however, and bounced back with not a care:

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Well into March, the witch hazels are still blooming! They will appear again in the March Garden Update.



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