Finally, Spring Plants

I laid eyes on my first batch of spring plants today-I was ridiculously pleased.  I could not take my eyes off these yellow pansies-nor could my nose.  Living plants have that most divine life-smell;  it was as if I got my first deep breath of saturated oxygen in months. This first contingent of plants I have special appreciation for-every sense I have is the better part of starved.  The spring plants deliver. I am not so much a fan of pansies with blotches-frequently called faces-I am not interested in anything remotely resembling black in the spring.  I love and welcome these big clear faced pansies. 

It is much too early for tulips-mine are 4 inches out of the ground, thanks to the very mild March we are having. These are fakes.  Though I value my plants like other people value their kids, I am unabashed about having these.  Made from some rubbery material with a decidedly tulip-like sheen, they cheer me up every time I walk by them.  So pink, they are!  The decision to carry fake plants is twofold-very few places carry them anymore-though the technology, appearance and feel of them is incredibly good now.  Those rayon tulips I saw 15 years ago were hard on the eyes, and dreadfully tough to take. These tulips bring spring to mind; this is enough to ask.  More importantly, I like to plant pots for spring-I am ready now.  The chilly spring weather is great for my bulbs and woodland flowers-they last and last, going into nature’s cooler every night.  But planted pots don’t gain much weight until the night temperatures really warm up.  A few fakes can give some needed heft and scale to a spring pot. Planting pots for spring-try it.  You may really like it.

I maintain the traffic island across the street from the shop-all the township does is mow the grass every so often.  As I prune the forsythia and honeysuckle, and look after the crabapples, I have no guilt about cutting and forcing some branches for the shop.  The masses of forsythia bloom heavily in the spring, given that I prune them properly after they bloom.  You are looking at 20 cut stems here-I would say the shrub planting from whence these stems came is happy.  I would not want forsythia in my landscape-not enough summer, fall,  and winter interest to warrant a spot on my small property.  But if I had land, I would plant them in rows, like radishes, and marvel at their glorious moment.  Have you seen Forsythia Hill  in bloom at Beatrix Farrand’s garden at Dumbarton Oaks in DC-truly glorious. 

Plants soften the edges and hard surfaces that make up much of the natural world. If I were able, I would plant every container I have; the plants bring so much to the party.  A crate is a crate-a crate full of hyacinths, smelling fresh and fragrant, is a spring moment.  

Amongst Rob’s plant choices today-what I call ashcan flowers.  I have not seen them in 30 years.  Ranunculus acris-a spring blooming perennial ranunculus, grew wild next to my trashcans, in the alley of my first house.  They like a low spot and don’t mind water-I so like plants that are happy in tough spots.  Yellow in the spring-this is a good look.

Rob designed and planted his first spring pot-a wire basket lined with moss got a mass of blue pansies-and a tuteur of prairie pussy willow. Belgium, England, and Oregon do much with plant towers from natural materials-he likes them.  I have to admit, these yellow stems against those china blue blooms says early spring loud and clear. I am waking up.  

This pussy willow is a new one to me; prairie pussy willow, I am told.  I plan to call for the nomenclature.   The best part of a love for horticulture-no matter how many years it has been on your mind and heart, something new is bound to come your way. regularly. I had Rob move this pot 10 times before I found this spot to photograph it.  Those grey fuzz balls on their yellow stems are worth a good look.  That spreading topknot of willow I photographed in front of my old linden.  This visual relationship makes the most of each element.   I have a mind to learn about this salix. 

Inside, my greenhouse roof provides the necessary light for lots of plants.  I could do without a lot of things-but not the plants.  I share this in common with gardeners from sea to shining sea-and beyond.


  1. Love that prairie pussy willow! Your shop looks amazing! I too don’t like my pots empty so I fake flowers until it warms up enough for real plants. This spring sure is early!!

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