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.