As snowdrops bend to the earth and winter aconites send husks of spent blooms aloft on glistening green umbrellas, a new cast of characters rushes in to capture the spotlight. Seeming to laugh at the recent downturn in temperature, several blossoms not only delight us but take us by sheer surprise. Is that a patch of daffodils in full bloom over there in that shady pocket of Azalea Woods? Oh my! The afternoon sunlight slants through the tree canopy at just the right angle, illuminating the yellowest yellow I have seen this spring.
The March Bank, which is now in the adolescence leading to its incomparable “blue phase,” still amazes us with a bright yellow-green firecracker (or specimen of Cornus officinalis) at the end of its historic walk. Meandering over to the Pinetum, we find mauve-purple blossoms of early rhododendrons (a little crumpled from the cold) standing out against their dark green backdrop. Rising from a woodland mulch of pine needles, a pageant of nearby hellebores scatters the forest floor with shades of pink, cream, pale green, and plum.
The parade continues down the Winterhazel Walk, where the first pale yellow clusters of winterhazel flowers provide a cheerful canopy. Further along, we find the striking lime green flowers of stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with its attractive, deeply dissected foliage.
It’s getting colder, though, and my fingers are beginning to freeze inside my gloves. But wait another minute: across from the famous sentinels of Sargent cherry, there are multiple shrubs of fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri) covered with pale pink and rose-colored flowers! The descending sun catches the blossoms and, for a moment, warms me with their pink glow.
But just for a moment. As I sprint my way back through the garden, I attempt to enjoy one last finale. The sun is making bright halos around the millions of fuzzy buds at Magnolia Bend! But I can no longer grip my camera. At least for today, the show must come to an end.