Early season blooms have started to appear this week in tandem with some other solid signs that we’ve turned a corner away from winter and closer to the start of spring here in my neck of the woods. While most gardeners are raving about the snowdrops — and they are beautiful, no doubt — I was most delighted to see another, though less popular harbinger of the season, Eranthis hyemalis unfurling in the sun for the first time.
Gardeners often complain about the difficulty in establishing eranthis, but most of my experiences with this early bloom have been with plants that appeared mysteriously from nowhere and established themselves with no work at all.
I think we could use more orange today.
Until recently I was unaware that witch hazel is cold tolerant in my climate. Here’s the evidence: a large witch hazel tree in full bloom just this morning in my friend’s garden.
We’re experiencing a warm and sunny spell here in Toronto that is lifting our collective spirits. Suddenly things are in bloom as if it is spring. But it isn’t really quite spring and I keep reminding myself that while all signs point to it, we could have another blizzard ahead of us just yet.
March is a deceptively soft and cuddly lamb, for now.
More witch hazel:
If you’ve been reading this site over the years, you can probably make a pretty safe guess as to where I am right now in the areas of seed starting and garden planning 2010. Behind. Barely started.
Most of my decisions so far have been made over a cup of coffee and with some lazy flipping through catalogues. Thankfully if you’re in my zone, we still have time. I don’t start to panic until all of the Seedy Saturday events are done. And us urban gardeners often have the advantage of hotter growing spaces that speed the growing process up once the summer heat comes on.
That’s my excuse anyway.
- Tomato ‘Reisetomate’: Baker Creek Seeds sent me a preview catalogue a few months back and this was the first tomato variety that caught my eye. I love an ugly tomato and I believe this just might be the most hideous beast out there. It is essentially a large bunch of cherry tomatoes smashed together into one enormous mess. The catalogue also says that the plant’s name, meaning traveler, is derived from its use as trip food in Central America. Considering the current state of travel between the Canada and the U.S, I don’t think they’d let me bring one in my carry on as sustenance.
- Tomato ‘Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge’: This is another tomato from the Baker Creek catalogue that caught my eye. These are an orange ribbed tomato (my favourite) with purple smudges on top. Reviewers describe them as mushy and tasteless but I’m going to try them anyway.
- Poppy ‘Mother of Pearl’: I have nowhere to grow this one but when has that ever stopped me? The subtle, pale shades and delicate crinkliness of these poppies are too much to resist.
- Pole Bean ‘Conio’: Last night I asked Colette of Urban Harvest about what was new in their 2010 catalogue and she mentioned this pole bean that she brought back from Terra Madre in 2008 and had grown out locally. Colette never fails to draw me in with new bean varieties. But what really got me about this one wasn’t the description so much as the name. Apparently conio or coño is an expletive referring to female genitalia. I’m always looking for an excuse to swear without being chastised for it.
- ‘Christmas’ Lima Bean: While I’m on the topic of beans, I tried to grow this variety last year. I only had about six beans so they were special. I planted them and they germinated. And then the raccoons or squirrels got them. The end. I’d like to give them a go again this year but haven’t found a source. Urban Harvest has them listed but Colette says they don’t have any. If you’ve got a source please tell us in the comments!
- Sweet Pea ‘Wild Yellow’ (Lathyrus chloranthus): I saw these sweet pea flowers in the West Coast Seeds catalogue and was smitten by the yellowy-green hue. My only hesitation is in that descriptions I have found say nothing about smell and I make it a point to only grow sweet peas that smell wonderful. Otherwise, what’s the point?
- Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum): I grew nodding onion in pots out on the roof nearly a decade ago and have got the itch to try my hand at these unique and ornamental alliums again. Botanical Interests have come through with seeds that have been newly added to their repertoire for 2010.
- Spinach ‘Bordeaux’: I saw these last year and regretted that I didn’t get any, especially since it turned out to be such an excellent year for spinach. Imagine a windowbox full of this colourful and architecturally shaped spinach. I always find spinach to be particularly gorgeous, but these have burgundy veins to boot.
This could be a ranunculus or something else entirely. Regardless, it sure is pretty.