In Oklahoma, there’s not much blooming this March for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Normally, by now I’d have tulips starting, along with the early daffodils, but that late winter blast of cold, snow and ice set things back. We saw nearly the same thing last year in March. This isn’t a bad thing. A spring sprung too early is destined to fall prey to a late freeze.
I noticed the redbuds are thinking about blooming. The weather the last couple of days will have everything going crazy, but stop yourself before you plant anything that will freeze. If you simply must plant some flowers, you can try to find some violas, pansies, snapdragons or dianthus, although they seem to be in short supply at local greenhouses. These cold-weather flowers are about all you should plant now. I bought some this morning to place around my bulbs. The pansies and violas I planted last fall look pretty bad. We had such a strange winter with extreme cold followed by warm weather, then extreme cold, ice and snow. No wonder pansies and violas are barely hanging on. I know gardeners who feel much the same way after such a winter.
The hamamelis clan gave a pitiful show this year. ‘Diane,’ ‘Jelena’ and ‘Arnold Promise‘ began blooming right when the freezing cold and snow messed with things, but the hellebores have never been lovelier.
Let’s focus on the positive, shall we?
Grow hellebores in dry shady spots where other stuff isn’t happy. Remember they are perennials so they take some time to get established. They are also promiscuous so expect seedlings if they are happy. I like the dark purple ones, like ‘Onyx Odyssey,’ in the stores, but those with a yellow/white/light bent seem to look better in my garden. For one thing, you can see them in its darker corners. Dark purple hides. As for when to buy them, unless you’re going for a specific hybrid, buy them as they bloom. Otherwise, you can’t tell what color they are. I have several from the Golden Lotus seed strain, and I’ve been very happy with them. I’ll do a post in a couple of days just about the hellebores that live here now. I add a few more each year.
Most hellebores are seed strain varieties, and Americans have done a lot for these flowers. There are picotee types, doubles, ones with dots…. You are only limited by your imagination, and the lack of blue flowers. Did you know that hellebore flowers turn green after they’re pollinated? A cool factoid, I think. If you’d like to learn more about hellebores, here’s an article I wrote previously.
In Oklahoma City, the Bradford pears burst into bloom this week. Don’t be fooled by their two week glory period. They are terrible trees, and Oklahoma has way too many of them. Bear and I were driving in town this week, and she said, “Ugh, Bradford pears.”
I thought, Yay! I’ve done something right. Then she told me that she hates them because they stink, and every school she attended had one on the playground. Another good reason to hate them.
Half my garden is still covered in leaves. The front borders are pretty good because Bill helped me blow the leaves out a month ago. We have two big moments of leaf drop at my house, one in the fall, and the other in late winter/early spring. Leaves irritate me, but I love the trees, and the shredded ones make great mulch. Speaking of trees, my native oaks are sick, and I’m losing some of them. There could be a couple of different things wrong with them, and a lot of the problems have to do with the drought. I guess Mother Nature will have to shake out which ones live, and which ones die. In the meantime, I’ve planted trees other than the native oaks so that something will be here when I am gone one day. Plant trees now. There is no better time.
I also lost all of the Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’ laurels planted by the landscaper in the front beds six years ago. My friend, Linda Horn, said yesterday that Otto doesn’t like Oklahoma. Made me laugh. That very early freeze last fall decimated them. Out they go. At my friend Gail from Clay and Limestone’s suggestion I’m replacing half of them with Kaleidoscope abelias. I planted three ‘Chime’ nandinas in place of the other three. Before you roll your eyes at nandinas, feast your eyes upon ‘Chime.’
In the back garden, I removed two roses that didn’t look healthy. When your garden is full of roses, and they are hit with something terrible like Rose Rosette Disease, it changes everything. One thing I noticed is that it’s hard to find shrubs with a similar growth habit to replace roses as anchoring plants in garden beds. One solution is to replace some with perennial grasses, but I don’t want the entire garden to be a monoculture so I’m searching for a variety of things. I bought several native shrubs. Some grow quite large so I’ll plant these around the exterior of the garden for wildlife. I bought Viburnum rufidulum, southern black-haw, Hamamelis vernalis, vernal witch hazel, Viburnum prunifolium ‘McKRouge’ Forest Rouge blackhaw, Ceanothus americanus, New Jersey tea (I’m really taking a chance on this one) and Ribes odoratum, golden clove currant.
Not very many blooms in this post. I apologize, but the long winter took its toll by delaying spring. Instead, you now know my spring plans. I hope you don’t mind.