Garden Bloggers Bloom Day–March and spring plans

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.

Violas and pansies with a perennial or two. I'll hold the perennials in the greenhouse.
Violas and pansies with a perennial or two. I’ll hold the perennials in the greenhouse.

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.

Spring plans
I have a few daffodils, but not many yet.

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?

Helleborus hyb. 'Ballerina Mix'
Helleborus hyb. ‘Ballerina Mix’

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.

'Blue Lady' and 'Honeyhill Joy' hellebores.
‘Blue Lady’ and ‘Honeyhill Joy’ hellebores.

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.

A double hellebore of the Brandywine™ strain. I am particularly fond of that seed strain.
A double hellebore of the Brandywine™ strain. I am particularly fond of that seed strain.

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.

The leaves of 'Roman Blue' hyacinths were burned by the cold weather, but the blooms are fine.
The leaves of ‘Roman Blue’ hyacinths were burned by the cold weather, but the blooms are fine.

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.

Dead 'Otto Luyken' laurel.
Dead ‘Otto Luyken’ laurel.

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.’

Crocus tommasinianus and little larkspur.
Crocus tommasinianus and little larkspur.

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.



  1. Kathy Sturr says:

    Oh my gosh, you don’t have ANY snow! Just dirt (and it doesn’t even look muddy!), and glorious flowers. I have a couple hellebores I’ve been waiting patiently for – but you mention dry soil. Where I have them it can be pretty moist. I think I’ll try another in a dryer spot – Yay, an excuse to buy another hellebore!

  2. Matt says:

    Wow, I wish my beds were bursting with color like yours! We still have decent snow on the ground and below 20 degree temps. Why the diss on bradford pears? I maintain a counry club and we have several bradford pears, they are a wonderful tree, maybe they are a smaller variety because they are not gigantic, they dont smell. beautiful shape and flowers, and branched dont break. ( they are always getting bent and hit with machines cutting grass around them). I read the article you linked to and dont have any of those problems. Thanks for the pictures and getting me to remember that SPRING WILL COME!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Matt, in this part of the country, we love to hate Bradford pears. Whatever variety we have does smell like cat urine or whatever. I think the biggest problem was that they were overplanted because of their ability to handle pollution. In our case, the high prairie winds snap the branches like twigs especially during spring storm season. Then, once they are split, they look even worse. I have heard that if they are kept pruned properly, they don’t split as often, but they are everywhere here. I do mean everywhere, and they are a menace.

  3. Late spring start here too as we are frozen and under snow still…but lots of flowers waiting under the snow.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Not long now Donna!

  4. Happy Bloom Day, Dee! My husband tells me nothing is blooming outside yet back in our Wisconsin garden. I’ll find out when I get home later this week. Getting anxious to experience spring in her full glory. Enjoy your beautiful blooms!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Beth, it’s coming sure as the sun. 😉

  5. Carolyn Bush says:

    Looks as though your Spring is coming along rather nicely. We are mostly barren and brown here with the exception of the periwinkle and a few budding tulips. Things are changing quickly with suuny skies. Your brandywine Hellebores are divine!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Carolyn. I’ll see if I can get photos of the other ones before they’re all pollinated and ready to set seed. It is coming along. Much more is blooming today.~~Dee

  6. gardenfancyblog says:

    Those of us north of you think there are plenty of spring flowers in your garden to enjoy. Thanks so much for sharing them with us! -Beth

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Beth, yes, it’s all relative. I have to make myself stop and look at the flowers when I have so much work before me. I have to keep reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the spring ride.

  7. Nell Jean says:

    I see Larkspur foliage around your Crocus. Spring is coming.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Nell Jean, I was very excited to see that larkspur foliage too. I love it so much.

  8. Rose says:

    Your garden looks like spring to me, Dee! I love all the different types of hellebores you have; “Otto” may not like Oklahoma, but the hellebores certainly seem to. We have had a tease of spring this past week before it turns cold again–but not too cold. I definitely won’t be planting anything soon, though–I know Illinois springs all too well!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Rose, the same could be said for Oklahoma springs. There will be much more cold. I’m mostly excited about the rain forecast for tomorrow. I hope it materializes. We need that rain. I really should be outside planting, but I’m kinda tired today for some reason. Hellebores do seem to love it here.

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your hellebores seem a bit ahead of mine. Mine are all still buds. This late winter early spring weather has been crazy. I love hearing all you are doing in your garden. I certainly don’t mind how you present it. Sometimes I wish I had all the room you have to plant, plant, plant. When my creaky bones fuss at me for working in the garden all day I think I have enough to keep me busy. I love the choices you have made to plant. Enjoy spring.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh Lisa, I was just thinking that my garden is way too large. I am not planting any new spots anywhere. I am just replacing stuff that dies at this point. I also sometimes dream of turning back some of the beds. I know I’ll feel better in April.

  10. I love the wonderful colors of spring that you have captured…It is truly my favorite time of year.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Charlie, I love spring too although fall is my personal favorite. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  11. Gail says:

    Dee, I love your garden! It’s going to be even more beautiful with the new plants. I am not a fan of Nandinas but, ‘Charm’ is charming and so not very nandina-ish!! I hope you love the Abelias as much as the bees do~and thanks for the linkage! You also have one of my favorite under planted and under appreciated native viburnums with Rusty Blackhaw; the flowers are outstanding and so is the fall color! Happy Spring my dear! xo

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Gail. I’m not a huge fan of regular nandinas either, but they do grow here. Haha. I should’ve mentioned that you also helped me with the rusty blackhaw. I know I’ll love it. Thanks so much!

  12. Carol says:

    It is pretty much the same here in Tulsa and I too am dealing with leaves. Where did you find your Chime Nandina? The Monrovia web site?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Carol, I found them at Marcum’s Nursery in Norman. I bet you can find them at Southwood Nursery. I hope so. I hope to find more stuff there when I come to speak at the Tulsa Botanic Garden on April 4.

  13. It’s looks perfectly lovely to someone who gardens in the land of dirty snow!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Kathy, that laurel is definitely not lovely! But, seriously, I get what you mean. It’s mostly still brown here. There are the bright spots though.

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