An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

March 14, 2009

Bloom Day - The Cruelest Month

The Wasteland is perhaps T.S. Eliot's most famous poem and it begins with the line "April is the cruelest month,...". While it is probably a crime to even mention his masterwork with the dribble produced here, it is clear that Mr. Eliot lived in another climate and did not work at a garden center. For me, March is the cruelest month. Even though we are only two weeks into it, we have already had school closing snow, gale force winds, temperatures in the teens within days of temperatures above 70, sunny skies, thick overcast, sleet and now it has been raining since last Thursday and it is not forcasted to end until early this week. At work we must make sure we have enough plant material for the warm sunny days when customers come out of the woodwork, but we can't get too much in case the weather changes. We are constantly in an epic struggle to pull plants out of their protected winter homes into the warm sunshine, only to have to move them back in again or cover them with blankets when it all changes, not to mention what to do with the truckloads coming from California, Alabama or Texas. Whether we have good weather or bad, many sales or few, we still must pay for what we bring in.

At least at home, the garden seems to be on a more normal, if not slightly delayed schedule. The cooler temperatures that we have had this winter have kept blooms more in line with what is typical then what they have been in recently previous winters. Certainly the star of the early March garden are the Narcissus - please don't ask me which ones they are, the nurseryman does not keep track, but he loves them nonetheless.

Another signature plant of early March would have to be Forsythia. I do not know exactly which cultivar this is, but it has variegated gold and green foliage and blooms about a week after the others start.

The Lilac Daphne (Daphne genkwa) is one more warm day from being in full bloom. This a much more vigorous Daphne than D. odora, but alas is neither evergreen nor fragrant.

Behind the Daphne in the picture above you can see another vigorous plant, Camellia japonica 'Crimson Candles'. This variety is more cold tolerant, blooms as prolifically C. sasanqua and the new foliage is red.

Camellia japonica 'Les Marbury'
Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem'

I like the blue green foliage and shrub-like form of this Corydalis more than I like the flowers. I do not know with certainty what the species is, but most likely it is C. lutea. Each plant seems to be an annual or maybe a biennial, but I think every single seed is fertile and it comes up everywhere, but is easy enough to pull out.

The last shot is Vinca minor that came with the house (I would not have planted it) next to my favorite groundcover Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ang Yo'.
Please visit Carol at May Dreams Garden to see what other gardeners are posting for March's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and while you are there be sure to say thanks for her herculean effort.


  1. Beautiful blooms - the camellias are just perfect.

  2. Hi Les, your March is just like ours, and as one of those who come out of the woodwork on a warm day, I always have sympathy for the covering and moving of those plants at the nurseries. Some places are able to keep everything in unheated greenhouses, where we like to browse even with snow on the ground in relative warmth. Let us hope soon for sustained above freezing temps to get us past that last frost date, then the pocketbooks will open wide! :-)

  3. You can't beat that combination of yellow and purple ! But the camellia are gorgeous too ! .. especially the white one .. I have a weakness for white flowers .. that was very nice to see : ) Joy

  4. So much happening in your garden! Your weather sounds like ours though our snow last weekend was not of the school-closing variety. At least I don't have to worry about dealing with any plants but the ones in my garden — which makes life much easier in March!

  5. Don't you just feel like someone is playing "Let's Make A Deal" with the weather...door #1 no #2, no...#3 no...wait..snow, no sun, wait warm --augh!! This much needed rain is good though. With hope it will all soak into the ground. I have lots of standing water in the yard.

  6. Les, I do love how beautiful your blooms are showcased with the black background!
    The daffodils are are all your blooming plants. it has been a horrific weather month! While we need the rain it has beaten the life out of our blooms. It is also a reminder of the need for a more sophisticated water collection system...for the dry months that will follow! I would be at your nursery seeking your advice and with my Subaru way back filled with delightful plants...but are too far from home!


  7. All your blooms look lovely Les inspite of our freakish weather patterns this month. :) You have such a lovely collection of Camelias.

  8. Les too bad, I would have loved to have known what the pink Daff is. It's gorgeous.

  9. I don't blame you for not keeping track of your cultivars-it is tough! But I'd sure like to know what that double daffy with the pink edges is:) I think you may have identified my white camellia. It is just opening now and is this solid white. I am off to investigate it. Love the corydalis.

  10. You have some beautiful blooms!!! I love your daffodils. They are very pretty colors(-:

  11. I think I can ID 2 of your Daffodils - the peachy split cup looks like 'Palmares' & the last one has to be everybody's favorite 'Ice Follies.' Thanks for sharing photos of your Camellias, each more beautiful than the last.
    BTW - I've also disagreed with the poet, but for me February seems the cruelest.

  12. The Lilac Daphne is so beautiful as are the Camellia japonica. Our April and May are much like your March. The temperatures can zoom up and then down so quickly that it's terribly hard for the garden centres.

  13. I've decided not to learn the names of my narcissuses either. I'm sure I have better things to do. That yellow corydalis looks great in the gloomy weather! And I wish I had a camellia.

  14. Hey Les, that's weird, I left a message yesterday - or at least I thought I did! GBBD is my one true day to be a water cooler blogger!
    You have so much going on a true woodies man. Love it all.

  15. Nice blooms. The camellias look great. I just love them. I'm curious - what plants do you get from Bamy? I can imagine that the nursery business can be very demanding work.

  16. Hi Les, your 'home garden' looks terrific;-) The peachy-edged daff is adorable! My favorite has to be the camelia japonica, Crimson Candles...just love the reddish hue. I also have the vinca minor...I do like the bluish-purple flower it gives, and I don't mind the vine; the vinca major, OTOH, is very different to deal with! If the 'minor' gets out of hand, it's not too difficult for me to pull...but the 'major' is a MAJOR X#!@ to deal with:-) Yes, our weather has been nuts, too! TRoday's another dreary, cool, rainy day; but this week is supposed to warm up & we'll see the sun:-)

  17. Oh, what beautiful blooms! I'm delighted to ahve found your blog. This is my first experience with GBBD, and I'm officially hooked--and I'm not even a garden blogger. I blog about art. But a garden is a very high form of art, in my opinion, so I'm going to play along.

  18. Happy,
    Thanks for visiting. I only showed the good camellias blossoms. There are plenty of less than perfect blooms still here.

    We have 4 covered houses at work. Two are not heated, one we keep from going below 32 and we have a tropical house as well. My plants have been kicked out of one of the houses to make room for annuals and herbs.

    That Camellia is one of my favorites as well.

    Yes our weather is indecisive, but I am glad it is not a cold as yours.

    I remember that show and how the less attractive contestants always got the lifetime supply of Rice-a-rone or worse yet the mule, instead of winning a fabulous trip or a new car.

    I agree with you about the water system and hope some of the weather will be with us in July or August.

    Thank you. Camellias are one of my favorite plants. How is your collection growing?

    Read some of the other comments, there are a couple of names mentioned.

    I keep track of somethings, but it is hard when a plant like a spring bulb is not there 3/4 of the year.

    Thanks and please stop by again.

    Thanks for the IDs. The Ice Follies was part of a bag of 100 asst. bought at a big box store. They all turned out to be the same. I was very disappointed. Feb. is my least favorite month, but at least I know what to expect with it.

    Thanks for stopping by. I am quite fond of both plants.

    I am surprised you do not have a Camellia. Does it need too much water, or does it get too big.

    I did not get anything from you until today. I got up early on the 15th to see what everyone was posting and get mine sent off. Unfortunately the store started spring hours this week and I was off to work before I could see much.

    I need to wear my glasses more. When I first saw your comment I said who is this "Barry" he's talking about. Now I see it is "Bamy". I get several large shipments out of Mobile from Flowerwood, mainly for Encore Azaleas, but I get other stuff as well. We also once got lots of really cool natives from another nursery that will go nameless. After an ownership struggle their quality and service became unacceptable.

    I agree with you on Vinca major. It is the devil to get rid of and I have not been successful yet. Any hints?

    There is no turning back for you now.


  19. Great lineup Les! I was cooped up inside all weekend because of the weather and forget to go out and take photos for 'bloom day'. Great stuff!!

  20. I love that daffodil with the hint of peach in it! Great Camellias too--my great-grandmother would have loved your garden, as she was a camellia connoisseur. If you don't like that vinca, you can send it to me!

  21. All of your flowers are wonderful, but 'Nuccio's Gem' is gorgeous! What a beautiful bloom.

  22. Beautiful Blooms for bloom day!

  23. Janet,
    Thanks again.

    Better luck next month. I sure hope the weather will be better.

    I wish I COULD send you the vinca.

    Thanks for stopping by. That is also one of my favorites. I usually don't go for the whites first, but Nuccio's Gem is a great camellia.

    Thank You!

  24. Still a barren wasteland in the garden here. You have a nice selection of stuff blooming. We need some warm days to get things going.

  25. I love flowers white stripe yellow its a beatiful flowers, how long to be bloom?

    1. You must be referring to one of the Narcissus. They bloom in our temperate climate for about a month or more.