March: in like a lion, out like a lamb? I think not! Monday’s snow threw us all for a loop; we had already been thinking spring but in the Winterthur Garden that is not a hard thing to do. Winter still occurs for 3 months here but the amount of winter flowering bulbs and shrubs mentally throws us into a premature spring. It is a nice thing.
Frantic inquiries about the effects of the snow on early flowers were abundant, but no worries; the bulbs that come up at this time of year are used to the temperamental ways of Mother Nature. For bulbs, it is akin to a blanket. The common names help to give a clue as to their hardiness: snowdrops, snowflake, snow crocus, glory-of-the-snow and winter aconite. They can handle it.
The burning hot question every March is “When will the March Bank be blue?” referring to the—dare I say it—millions of Chionodoxa or glory-of-the-snow bulbs that cover the woodland hillside (and a good portion of the rest of the garden, too). No, I have never counted to confirm it is in the millions but if you see this display, I think that you may concur that it is at least pretty darn close. Each year we look at the day and evening temperatures and try to pin point the height of its display. Outside of last year—a.k.a. the winter that wasn’t—the March Bank has been at its “blue best” in April for the past few years. So much for global warming. This year is will be no different.
If one can trust the long-range forecast—a subject for another blog http://gardenblog.winterthur.org/2012/04/26/the-garden-nostradamus/ —it looks as if the blue will be putting on a good show by the end of the week and continuing strongly into the first week of April as temperatures through April 6th should not exceed 55 degrees which is perfect for extending the flowering display of this cool season performer. It is the warm days—like a nice, fluky 70 degree day—that will put a quick halt to the blue; nothing to worry about for at least the next 10 days or so.
If you have never seen the blue phase, make a note on your calendar to come and see it and if revisiting, try coming and seeing the blue at a different time of day; the character truly changes with the angles of the sun.