• Sandi Manna

Welcoming Spring With Flowers

After a long winter that seemingly just won't give up, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite spring blooms.

First and foremost on my list have got to be crocus! I have never been a fan of winter, and I can remember distinctly as a kid when the crocus appeared. I grew up in Stamford on a small, postage stamp-sized property. Nearby there was a church with a large hillside. My family and I would frequently go there for walks, especially during the spring. The church had a large expanse of a hillside that was all lawn, and I can fondly remember my mom saying “Look, the crocus are coming up! That means spring is here!”, as she pointed to the crocus dotting the hillside. Now as an adult, I feel the same joy swelling inside my heart whenever I see the first blooms of crocus appearing.

A new favorite of mine as an adult are Hellebore. These long blooming beauties are also called Lenten Rose, and they are braver than even the crocus. As I sit here and write this blog under yet another leaden colored sky, I can look out in my garden and see the Hellebore plump with buds, ready to open and ward off Old Man Winter, who is very stubbornly hanging on.

Of course, who can resist the cheerful, upturned faces of Daffodils. Their sunny colors bring a buoyant feel to the spring garden. They're super easy to grow, both deer and rabbit resistant (yes, it's true. There are some things those varmints actually won't eat!) and they're great for naturalizing. Commonly known for their trumpet shaped flowers, there are a number of hybrid species with features such as double flowers. There are also contrasting cup colors, and various bloom sizes. Leave it to me to like something different (of course, right?!), I'm fond of the double flowering varieties with their peony-like blossoms. Some even have hints of pink!

Like both deer and rabbits, I am particularly fond of tulips. However, I enjoy looking at them, not dining on them! There are over 3,000 varieties available! While not as reliable to come back as a perennial type flower

(like the daffodils), they are none-the less beautiful. Although their blooms typically last only a few days, you can extend the season by planting early-, mid- and late-season varieties. Darwin Hybrids are your best bet to have your tulips come back year after year. Even when they don't come back, I still love tulips! If you think about it, we all plant annuals, so if you change your mindset to thinking of these beauties as annuals, you get a chance to change up your spring bulbs just as you would the rest of your garden!

Snowdrops are a hardy little plant that are not at all afraid to stare down Old Man Winter and tell him it's time togo. Not the least bit intimidated by the snow and ice, they often push their ethereal flowers up through a blanket of snow. I never cease to wonder every time I see one, that such a delicate-appearing plant can so bravely look Old Man Winter In the face and firmly say “ Spring is here! You're done for this year!”.

Few plants can boast as many commendable qualities as can columbine. Native to Connecticut (New England actually), these graceful flowers are easy to grow, come in a wide variety of colors, attract hummingbirds, and if that's not enough, the deer and rabbits don't care for them. Some species of columbine have blossoms that dangle or nod, while others have a more upright appearance – somewhat like a horn. Regardless of their blossoms, all have what are called 'Spurs' or long petals that resemble spurs, or claws that point backwards. Columbine grow quickly and blossom when they are young. They do .however, have one drawback. They can self-seed somewhat vigorously. This has caused many a gardener to dismay as it seems 'wrong' to pull out a 'flower'. My own personal definition of a “weed” is “any plant that is growing in an area you do not want it to. You can always share the love by digging them up and passing them along to family and friends.

Last but not least are hyacinths. These colorful bulbs perfume the air with their delightful fragrance that I yearn for every spring! Their vertical growth, jewl-like flowers, and enticing fragrance captivate the senses and are not soon forgotten! These early bloomers infuse color into the landscape with tiny, bell-shaped clusters of blooms that form large, upright flowers that come in a variety of colors from the palest of yellow to a bright, bold red. Hyacinths are loved by many and make a splendid addition to the spring garden.