Serendib garden journal: Chionodoxa, hyacinths, forsythia

I know I said last week was the best week in my garden, but I think it’s actually this week. Or possibly the one after that. Asking a gardener to choose a favorite week is like asking a reader to name her favorite book — cruel, and unnecessary. Each week brings its own sweet glories — in this particular case, glory-of-the-snow, also known as chionodoxa. Sometimes this pale blue spring ephemeral blooms with snow on the ground, but Chicago is having a warm end-of-winter, so there’s no snow in sight. 

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There are, however, still quite a few white snowdrops, and blue scilla abounding, along with newly emerging hyacinths — this particular variety is marketed as berries-and-cream. One of my daughter’s middle names is Jacintha, after my mother, and I’ve always told her that hyacinths are *her* flower, so it’s special for us when they finally emerge in the garden. Tip: If you dig up or pick just one, and leave it closed in a powder room, it will fill the room with intoxicating scent.


The hellebores are going strong, and though I must lie prone on the garden path to photograph them, I don’t mind. This is the season for paying attention to small delights, a time to feel grateful for every drop of color brightening the grey-brown landscape.

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The periwinkle (vinca minor) is blooming, as it did in the woods outside my parent’s house in Connecticut — I have a good patch going now, a carpet of tiny purple stars, and am hoping it will continue to spread and spread. More groundcover = fewer weeds!


Also planted in part for nostalgia value, my sole forsythia bush — my parents have a row of them separating their house from their neighbors’; I can’t spare the room for so many, but I did want to have at least one. I like the pop of bright yellow against the deep blue of our garage, joining the daffodils which are just emerging.

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I am making notes for what I’d like for next year — more of everything, essentially, though we’ll see what the budget allows. I put them in the online shopping cart, but wait to actually buy. I am impatient, and though many of these will spread slowly over time, the garden still has too many large brown patches for my taste. But more snowdrops now will mean fewer hostas later. It is a dilemma.

Sweeps of color will come, eventually. For now, we’ll enjoy the little clusters, here and there, and the leaves leafing out on the roses, and the tight buds on the redbud tree. As soon as I’m over this wretched cold, it’ll be time to start preparing the vegetable beds; we’re hoping to do it properly this time, for the first time since moving in here. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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