Early spring in Kansas is spring bulb time. Little else can take the roller coaster weather and still be willing to "put it all out there" in the way of blooms and leaves. This year seemed like a particularly beautiful spring for bulbs.
To me, spring started in mid February this year. The first yellow crocus blooms shine out among my other photos on February 21st.....
I have a few heirloom crocus varieties, but I can't say that I can tell a lot of difference between them and more modern varieties. Greg has been very interested in scattering crocuses throughout the grass in the yard, which makes labeling an heirloom variety impossible, so crocuses are one species in which I have tended to just go with "cheap and cheerful" modern bulbs.
Heirloom or modern, crocuses seem to bloom in the same basic order: yellow first, then white and finally purple. This cluster of 5 clumps illustrates that fairly well: the yellow clumps (helped along by munching rabbits) are essentially done, the white clump is in full bloom, and the purple clumps (also rabbit-pruned) are just beginning to open fully.
As the crocuses pass their peak, the daffodils begin. Tete-a-Tete, a cute, perky, little, bright yellow daffodil is one of the first varieties to open. I have my first daffodil photos on March 20th, the same day as the crocuses above. By 9 days later, multiple daffodils have opened, as have the hellebores and the first of the hyacinths. Looking across the landscape, though, things still seem pretty sere, even 2 days later on March 31st.
By the 18th, the back courtyard bed was looking pretty spring-ish again.
Meanwhile, here are a few highlights from the spring bulbs and other non-native garden plants so far this spring....
Having specifically mentioned the Tete-a-Tete daffodils, it seems like I ought to include a photo of them! This was taken on March 31st, but these cuties had started opening by March 20th and continued blooming for at least another week after this photo was taken.
Well, I've since learned that "modern" grape hyacinths are Armenian Grape Hyacinths, Muscari armeniacum. They don't seem to multiply like the old fashioned grape hyacinths do, which may be why modern growers and gardeners prefer them. This is one "clump" of those modern grape hyacinths, 7 springs later, with spotted geranium (Geranium maculatum) coming up behind it.
Thanks to Old House Gardens, I was able to find both heirloom Southern Grape Hyacinths and heirloom Northern Grape Hyacinths a year or two later. I figured that one of those two species must be the plant I remembered.
I like both of the heirlooms better than the modern species. Added to the official plant roster in 1629, this pictures the Southern Grape Hyacinth, Muscari neglectum. It has the deep blue blooms that I love, but the foliage is rather limp and formless. It also tends to reseed a fair amount, which I actually like, but others might not be so excited about.
Last but not least in this lineup of highlights, I've got 2 different hyacinth varieties that I particularly love: Dreadnought (1899) and Double Hollyhock (1936).
With a double bloom of an intense, luscious, deep blue, I've had Dreadnought in the ground for several years now, in an area where I do absolutely NO extra watering. It has returned stronger each year. This is Dreadnought Hyacinth on April 11th....