“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”
– Gertrude S. Wister
It’s late winter, and every year at this time I get so excited to see the Red Maple in bloom. The flowers are not particularly eye-catching; in fact, most people don’t really notice these red clusters that hug the limbs and branches. To me, it signifies that spring is just around the corner. Some believe, Punxsutawney Phil is the predictor of springtime’s arrival, but I feel it’s the Red Maple. I know that the next season of renewed growth is on the way, when I see this large, gray trunk beauty, studded in color.
Winter bloomers are few and thereby special. Some have exquisite fragrance such as Daphne and Tea Olive. Camellias are well loved for their large, showy blossoms. Cherry trees and Saucer Magnolias are exquisitely beautiful, a harbinger of spring, and a favorite of many. I find myself stopping and taking notice of these rarities much more often than their spring or summer counterparts.
It’s not just nature that has some jewels that are blooming, but the nurseries also have a few specialties that come on the market at this time. Bulbs, Ranunculus, and Primrose are some of the winter delights that can be found.
This month, I invite you to seek out all that is blossoming. Cut a few branches of a budding tree to bring inside or pick up a container of blooming Hyacinths. See how many flowers you can find along a walk through the woods or your neighborhood. Enjoy this last taste of winter, when only a few in the plant kingdom dare to bloom.
|Scientific Name||Common Name||Sun/Shade||Height||Bloom Color||Notes|
|Acer Rubrum||Red Maple||Full – part sun||40’-70’||Red or Orange||Native to wet areas, great fall color.|
|Cercis canadensis||Redbud||Full sun- shade||30’-40’||Pink||Wonderful understory tree, with numerous pink blossoms covering its branches. The leaves are large and heart shaped and quite pretty, however, they can become quite unsightly towards the end of the season.|
|Magnolia x soulangiana||Saucer Magnolia||Full – part sun||30’||White, Pink, or Purple||Old fashioned and charming with its large blossoms on this deciduous tree. I love to cut branches and bring inside.|
|Prunus Sp.||Cherry. Plum, Apricot||Full – part sun||15’-25’||Varies||This group includes Cherry, Apricot and Plum Trees.|
|Camellia japonica||Camellia||Full – part sun-part shade||8’-12’||Red, Pink, White||A true Southern gem, these queens of the winter garden truly are the stars. Scale can be a problem. Make sure plant has good air circulation.|
|Chaenomeles sp.||Flowering Quince||Full – part sun||3-5’||Orange-Red||Old fashioned shrub, so pretty in bloom, yet a little scraggly afterwards.|
|Daphne odora||Daphne||Full – part sun||3’-4’||Light Pink, White||Heavenly fragrant, reminds me of Citrus. This plant can be finicky but well worth the price.|
|Gelsemium Sempervirens||Carolina Yellow Jessamine||Full – part sun||Yellow||Arching, spreading green stems somewhat sprawling.|
|Leptospermum petersonii||New Zealand Teatree||Full sun||4’-7’||Pink or White, Red||Dependable early bloom. Wants excellent drainage. Great for the perennial garden.|
|Osmanthus Fragrans||Tea Olive||Full – part sun||15’-20’||White||Very fragrant. This plant can struggle near the coast. Try placing in an inconspicuous site, yet close to an entry to enjoy the long season of fragrance.|
|Winter Flowering Delights|
|Calendula||Calendula||Full – part sun||8”-18”||Orange, Yellow||Bright and cheery, reminds me of marigolds but blooms all winter.|
|Cyclamen||Cyclamen||Part sun-part shade/full shade||6”||Pink, Red, Purple, White||Very bright and showy, this beauty can handle some pretty cold temps. Leave in its plastic pot and bring indoors if temperatures go below freezing.|
|Geranium||Geranium||Full – part sun||12”-18”||Red, Pink, Purple, Orange, White||Surprisingly hardy, these showstoppers come back on the market this month.|
|Helleborus orientalis||Lenten Rose||Part shade-shade||12”-18”||Red, Greenish white, Pink||Evergreen and beautiful, leathery leaves. This is a perennial with very pretty unusual flowers.|
|Hyacinthus orientalis||Hyacinth||Full Sun||Purple, White, Pink||You can find these potted up and ready for bloom this month. I love to have one on my kitchen counter with its promise of spring and sweet fragrance.|
|Osteospermum ecklonis||African Daisy||Full – part sun||12”-18”||Orange, Yellow, White, Purples||These plants bloom profusely all winter. They are great in containers and will cascade.|
|Narcissus||Daffodil||Full – part sun||6”-12”||Yellow, White||Early blooming varieties will perform better in our climate.|
|Primula sp.||Primrose||Part-full shade||12”||Yellow, Pink, Purple, White, Blue||Primrose are bright, colorful and make lovely plants outside or indoors.|
|Ranunculus sp.||Buttercups||Full – part sun||12-18”||Yellow||Excellent cut flower|