The first crocuses!!!

I decided with temperatures predicted to be near 60o F today and it already being 61o F, I needed to go back outside and sweep and clean the dog run, pull out some more vinca and begin to assess the spring showings. Not that there weren't showings already, but as I was sweeping the fallen soil and leaves and debris westward, noticing that there were smiling clumps of vinca grinning out at me from between the landscape timbers that I have decided to replace with an idea I saw I think in Lee Valley garden tools. A brace of sorts that holds stepping stones verticle that you attach a top piece to make really decent raised sides on a garden box.
Suddenly a soft mother of pearl blue caught my eye. Blue?? I stopped and focased on where I saw it and YES!!!! The first crocus!!! WOO HOO!!!!! This excited me to the point of stopping my sweeping and I ran over to the Colorado bed and sure enough, there was another clump of grassy leaves and a YELLOW one. ALRIGHT!! Although it seems a bit late for my crocuses to be just beginning, I am pleased beyond description. And add to that the fact that I with the warm temperatures today, my Cornelian Cherry tree will burst open today. <GBSEG> Spring is on it's way here in Eastern Tennessee!!!
madgardener up on the sunny ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking English Mountain, zone 7, Sunset zone 36
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The first crocus is a gift, and assures us that spring WILL arrive. Somewhere I read a line that gets me through the Cape Cod winters: So far, the crocuses have always come up.
Felice
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On Thu, 19 Feb 2004 12:48:05 -0500, madgardener wrote:

Here in the land of ice and snow crocuses have been abloom for some time now. They began to appear in the supermarkets weeks ago.
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LOL well for icy lands, there is that..............madgardener

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aint it the truth... they start talking about it on line and I head to Steins for a pot-o-spring. actually, DH brought me a nice big cheery pot of daffs ... they are way my favorite flower. Ingrid

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And from this day on it's just flowers, flowers, flowers. In some zones the snowdrops are first, but I've had crocuses for weeks already, & snowdrops just getting going. I guess the snowdrops remain "Fair Maids in February" through many zones, but crocuses can leap up way earlier in some zones, way later in others.
I've got my first TULIP this week. In the past it has always been kaufmannianas that appear first, but never before March, & they're still just leaves right now. But to my utter astonishment, appearing way sooner than expected, a small drift of ultra-short crocus-tulips (Tulipa humilis var. violacea) had bright pink buds that I noticed about three days ago, & today I see the petals are just beginning to open. This made me run about looking everywhere there are tulip-leaves to see if any others are showing actual buds of color, & one other is, a green-flamed variety called "China Town," purportedly a May-bloomer, but already has little nubby bright white-striped pink buds peeping out of the soil; these'll probably be a long while developing however, whereas the crocus-tulips are on the cusp of bursting full open.
The dwarf irises have been in full bloom for a week or two also. The first to bloom were the dwarf yellows, Iris danfordiae. These unfortunately are easily beat to death by rain so already look a fright. But I. reticulata are impervious to rain, & are in full gorgeous sway now. I doubt I'll ever plant more of the I. danfordiae, but I will be adding more I. reticulata bulbs every autumn so that there'll be more & more & more of those year by year. Their only fault is a small one, after they are done blooming, their little leaves suddenly get quite tall, turning into stringy grass with nothing to recommend it (as opposed to muscari & ipheon & scilla grasses, & larger bladed irises, all quite lovely even without flowers).
A clump of Ipheion is also flowering now, not dramatically so far, & perhaps I have it in too harsh a location to be real flowery, if so I'll divide it later in the year & move part it someplace where it'll get more sun. I remember deciding to plant it in that out of the way shady spot so it wouldn't be so near a path I'd have to smell its onioniness interferring with nicer-smelling things, but maybe I over did it, then again, maybe it'll be super-flowery in another week or so.
Scilla Tubergeniana is also right now in full flower, though the Siberian scilla is only big grassy clumps so far.
Plus several clumps of cyclamens, the latest to flower, are only just now opening their many pink buds. Oh, and among shrubs, one of the autumn-blooming camellias is really super long-flowering to the end of winter, so still going gung-ho, plus the witchhazel hybrid's in full bloom, & another all-winter bloomer, the dawn viburnum, has not even begun to calm down for flowers.
But to stick to late winter/early spring bulbs, not yet blooming but with enormous pointy-snout buds that could burst open any day now are the "Rip van winkle" narcissus. These are pompom flowers, looking very little like a narcissus, & U have them growing in three places. I don't usually duplicate narcissus plantings like that, but these little things are too cute. The first ones I ever planted only did so-so, but after an exchange an April ago with someone in this newsgroup (Shelly), I was inspired to research them more fully to see if it was possible to get them to naturalize better, & I ended up planting two more groups of them last autumn, in locations that seemed likely to be more to their benefit, & so far so good.
The only narcissus that's in full bloom already is "Chinese Sacred Lily," not a lily of course, but a very sweet-smelling narcissus more suited to places further South. It doesn't recognize the existance of winter & has been blooming since the last day of January.
I used to not like narcissus all that much, but Granny Artemis loves them, & began collecting miniature types since I didn't want big huge ones conflicting with the woodland flavor of the gardens. These grew on me bit by bit until now I find them terribly exciting. Some of the alleged "miniatures" actually get two feet tall instead of the ten inches promised, but others really do stay small. I find myself increasingly enamored of them, &amp am even thinking of adding some full-sized biggies in the future, though only between the rugosas in a property-corner streetside garden that's brand new, will decide next autumn whether to do that or not, & depending partly on whether some fancier big ones like with pink trumpets seem likely to be able to tolerate the harsher conditions at that end of the property. Overall, watching narcissus blades pop up everywhere is terribly exciting even long before there are signs of flowers.
None of the muscaris are in bloom yet, but will burst into bloom in March along with scillas & hoop petticoats. There for a few weeks around the time of the January snowstorm the winter-garden was changeless day after day, but now it just gets livelier by the day.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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snipped-for-privacy@netscapeSPAM-ME-NOT.net (paghat) wrote:

I didn't want to leave my above error uncorrected re "China Town." The earliest blooming crocus-tulips ("Violacea") made me go around looking to see if any other tulip was preparing blooms so early as this, & I spotted bright pink buds for "China Town" WAY ahead of expected bloom time, but none others so early. A couple days later, these entirely bright pink buds have opened into pink-edged leaves, & would no longer fool anyone into thinking they were flower buds. I just updated my garden diary so that in the future I'll remember the leaves add spots of color between second & third week of February, which is pretty cool in itself, but by no means preparing to bloom already.
A second patch of "Violacea" from another source has skinnier leaves than the blooming patch, & no buds yet on the skinny-leafed ones, but they are not in as sunny a spot, so I don't know what percentage of the "difference" between these two patches is different sources providing different strains, or just not enough sun. I will lift the shadier drift a couple months from now when the leaves start dying back & move them to a sunny space to encourage February blooming for that drift too, plus I'm going to plant moer crocus-tulip bulbs all over the place next autumn; I'll look for many varieties as I can find from specialists, hoping many of them are also this early-flowering. Tulip season getting a head-start in February just seems too amazing.
The only other leaves as colorful as the "China Town" are for the greigii tulips, some of which have intensely bright red stripes all over the leaves, others with fainter red mottling. The brighter stripes tend to fade a lot before flowers appear, so they are at their height of leaf-beauty right now. If there was a hosta this colorful they'd be the most popular hostas in the world; I think the leaf-beauty of greigii tulips gets underappreciated because of too much focus on blooms.
A couple of our several kaufmanniana tulips also have red-striped leaves right now, but this invariably means they were hybridized with greigiis, & that also means they won't naturalize the way purer botanical tulips well, despite that the hybrid kaufmannias even so get listed in catalogs as botanicals. They at least perennialize super well, but will never really spread. We have a small patch of a pure wild kaufmannia, & these get huge elongated seedpods on them, & naturalize fine.
Trillium leaves are popping up now.
Little flat-blue buds are appearing a half-inch to an inch tall for Muscari azureum; if you get down real close to the ground these already look like grape hyacinths for the gardens of dollhouses.
The earliest jack-in-the-pulpit horns have just peaked out of the soil too. Every day is just so exciting in the garden, to me anyway -- some visitors don't always get it when I say "Oh! Oh! look at that!" & all they see is a tiny green pencil-point sticking up half an inch.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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wrote:

Snap, Marilyn!!! Mine are also just opening in my Scottish (Dundee) garden - we have been around 40s - 50s F this month, and it's been yet again a pretty mild winter overall here! I just wish that in another five or six months I would be able to say that I was experiencing the 90+ F temperatures that you will have in Tennessee, although some would say that the 60s - 70s that we usually get here are more civilized! However, as you know, the two and a half years that I lived and worked in East Tennessee (Knoxville) way back made me a definite aficionado of summer heat, something I certainly miss back here!
Best wishes Geoff
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I have some miniature iris "purple gem" starting to show color, but that's as close to anything in bloom in my yard in northern AR if one discounts the pussy willow that is beginning to have catkins show. I cut a bunch and brought them inside the day before yesterday, and it's amazing how rapidly they are opening in a warm house. If they are left in water long enough, most of them root and can be planted. Many friends have pussy willows in their yards from this early spring cuttings that rooted.
Are you really that nostalgic for hot weather, Geoff? I love where I live, but I often wish July, August, and early Septembers weren't on the calendar. I suggest that people visiting us select April or early May because our springs are incredibly beautiful. Everything seems to be in bloom or showing color. The woods in the area have drifts of white dogwoods, interrupted by splashes of redbuds, and daffodils are naturalized in abandoned houses and ditches. Our azaleas are nice, but they can't compare to a four foot, dark red bush that we pass on our way to the shopping area.
If your schedule ever allows, you're more than welcome to visit us in July. I always have a lot of weeds that need pulling in hot weather. :)
John
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Hi John
I guess that the advantage of much of the US weather is that if you plan a barbecue several days in advance , there's a good chance you can hold it. That's an iffy statement in the UK.
But I am a good weed puller, and if I have to turn up in person to put a face to B & J so be it! We would love to visit friends made in this ng, so (depending upon ongoing circumstances back home) we haven't yet ruled out turning up on your doorstep!!
Best wishes Geoff
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Hi Geoff,
That was a serious invitation, Goeff. If you and your lovely wife ever decide to return to the U.S. for a visit, you're welcome and more than welcome to stay with us. It's not as pretty as the Smokies in the Knoxville area, but we do enjoy living here. I know we made a good choice for retirement. We have many friends and so much to do that we're never bored. The Springfield, MO, airport is about 120 miles away, and we'd be happy to meet you there. We have a relatively large home with a guest bedroom, complete with a bed spread that was hand quilted by Barb, and a private bathroom for guests.
Please give it serious thought!
John
P.S. Don't worry about the weeds, Geoff. I have a personality that insists on pulling weeds as soon as they stick up their noses. :)
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I got our of my car yesterday morning, and glanced at my front flower bed and lo and behold, there were yellow crocuses peeking out amonst my pansies. What a cheerful and uplifting sight!
loony

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