Although this is the time of year when visitors flock to Green Spring Gardens to see our national collection of witch hazels, there are many other early signs of spring throughout the gardens that you can spot as you stroll around the grounds.
Head to the Rock Garden to see the swath of lovely pink blooms on Erica ‘Kramer’s Red.’ This winter-blooming heather provides color through the coldest months. Nestled at the base of the rock wall near the opuntia are two clumps of buttery-yellow daffodils, Narcissus bulbocodium. Also called hoop petticoat daffodils, their perianths resemble frilly petticoats.
(Pictured: Erica ‘Kramer’s Red’ and hoop petticoat daffodils)
The raised bed under the eastern red cedar trees by our accessible parking area provides early blooms with snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), brightening these chilly days. Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) have opened sunny yellow blooms atop frilly green bracts. They provide weeks of joy.
(Pictured: snowdrops and Winter aconites)
Follow the paved loop to the Arbor Garden where the flowering apricot tree, Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clark,’ brightens the garden with hundreds of clear pink blossoms. Then, head over to the colorful red twig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) at the edge of the shrub border near the London Plane tree. If you look carefully, you’ll find a lovely clump of blue crocus coming into bloom. Near them, arching green stems are covered with lovely sunny blooms that resemble forsythia. This is Jasminum nudiflorum, and its starry yellow blooms, arrive weeks before forsythia.
(Pictured: ‘Peggy Clark,’ ‘Midwinter Fire,’ and blue crocus)
Towards the back of the shrub border, you’ll find Helleborus foetidus, the stinking hellebore, with bright green bracts beginning to open. Under the towering white pines is another carpet of snowdrops to greet you.
As you approach the Historic House, you’ll see the white flowering apricot tree, Prunus mume ‘Big Joe,’ with snow white blossoms. In nearby beds, lovely Helleborus hybridus in shades of cream and pink are beginning to open. If you notice a sweet fragrance, look for the small, waxy yellow blooms on the Chimonanthus praecox, or wintersweet. Its lovely yellow flowers emit a sweet fragrance that floats on the winter air.
(Pictured: ‘Big Joe’ and wintersweet)
Enjoy the gardens and discovering our early-blooming hidden gems! Spring is just around the corner.
Judy Zatsick is a horticulturist, garden designer and the site manager at Green Spring Gardens.