The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister

Winter comes and goes these days. February has embraced all of the seasons in a few short weeks, from bitter winter to balmy summer. Earlier in the month, January’s snow melted into the ground and a thick fog rose overnight, transforming the woodland into a mysterious world of gray and black.  forestfog

Later, the sun appeared and burned away the blanket of fog, revealing the bold architecture of oak trees stark against a bright blue sky. (Click on any photo to enlarge)

Temperatures continued to warm last week until many early flowers burst into full bloom while shrubs and trees began to swell with buds and leaves. The black and white and gray of winter was suddenly sparked with color.

More hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) flowers open each day, a few weeks earlier than usual. Many have self-seeded and spread under trees and shrubs; a few are named varieties. A favorite is the almost black double flowered ‘Onyx Odyssey’. The unusual green flowers and uniquely patterned foliage of the fetid hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) punctuate the edge of the woodlands.

The temperatures have plunged once again and gardeners can only hope that the early growth won’t be damaged by the return of winter. But the anticipation of spring has begun. (Click on any photo for a full size version; all photos ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse)

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream. ~ Barbara Winkler

29 thoughts on “Anticipation

    • We are very early here, Jason, by several weeks. Do you grow Iris reticulata? They bring more early color to the garden than anything else besides hellebores. I’ve tried a few different colors but this one, ‘Harmony’, is indestructible, colorful, and forms wonderful clumps about the time that the hellebores bloom. Thanks for stopping by; enjoy the blossoming of spring in your garden!

  1. Here’s hoping that this early budding doesn’t feel the grip of a hard freeze over the next couple of weeks. Whenever I plan a trip to the Smokies in the spring (not this year), I always hold my breath that the dogwood bloom doesn’t begin until AFTER the final freeze of the season.

    • I’m hoping the same thing, Kerry – we live in the freeze/thaw zone so who knows? Last year the forsythia got knocked back in a sudden warmup/freeze and I lost a few shrubs too. Hopefully, this year will work out but we still have at minimum another month of unpredictable weather. I remain philosophical 🙂

    • Oh, please do, Carol – it is one of my favorite quotes. White forsythia isn’t really a forsythia but looks like one and blooms about the same time. It is actually white with a pink blush – lovely and a mild sweet scent. A faux forsythia? 🙂

  2. How strange this winter seems to have been for many of us. Warm enough in February to fool one into thinking it was spring already and as you have said, buds appearing on trees and spring flowers emerging earlier than usual. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t turn nasty during March and undo all the beauty around us. Lovely photos Lynn, I especially like the trees in the fog. 🙂

    • So you are having some of the same upside down weather, Jude? I do love seeing color so early and bulbs have their own “antifreeze” system so they bounce back. Just hoping the shrubs and trees don’t get frost bite – I’m sure we will have more winter before spring truly arrives. I can’t control it, so I try to enjoy it 🙂

  3. When I first saw the title, I heard Carly Simon singing. You are captured one of the benefits of an extraordinary mild February … but we both know winter still lurks … and we also know what Phil said! Thanks for sharing your joy!

  4. Finland is always at least 1.5-2 months behind in growing season as compared to the USA zone 6 regions, with which we are close in approximation. We too have had a topsy-turvy weather season which resulted in milder temps in our southern Finland area. BUT! we don’t go sleeveless and barefoot! 🙂 It never gets that balmy here in February. 😀 The only time you’ll see Finns without shoes and well clothes at all, is after sauna and then that might include a brisk dip or swim in the lake waters if someone has been kind enough to auger a hole in the ice! Other than that you can forget about balmy until that week or should I say DAY finally arrives sometime in the summer (we hope!) 😀
    As much as I want to see all my plant stuff emerge from the winter blanket, I’m in no hurry to watch them all suffer from freezer burn. Patience! Thanks though for the beautiful reminders of what we have to look forward to!

    • Kathryn, I always enjoy your perspective on life in Finland; thanks for bringing it here! The ground actually did warm up enough for barefoot, though I wore sandals, but in some parts of the lower mid-west, temps were in the 90’s and above – unseasonably warm to hot everywhere, except perhaps New England which got record amounts of snow. It is cold again here but the bulbs and hellebores are adapting, so all is well for now. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

    • Bernadette, I agree – the weather seemed very unnatural and I also worried about the bugs not being knocked back by a steady winter. Yet, I also enjoyed the respite of warm weather and a little color in the garden.

  5. There is such joy in the Iris, snowdrops and crocus – that late winter sunlight lighting them up, the clarity, the perfection of form and crispness of color. And I love the fog photos, too. Happy Sunday to you!

  6. Loved the ‘black and white’ color photo with single red leaf at the bottom edge. Felt sorry for the flowers early this AM. BRrrrrrr! However, you certainly have some early beauty in your garden.

    • Graham, I didn’t realize how little color there was in the image until I processed it! I just fell in love with how the fog altered the perception of depth in the woods. Yes, it was very crispy this morning but everything seemed to bounce back pretty well. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Just beautiful, Lynn! How glorious to see those lovely flowers. Nothing was able to bloom for me before the snow and cold returned, but green tips were just rising and peeking through the soil, and I hope they’re now blanketed and safe. I know they’ll make a comeback, but yikes, this weather has been fluctuating wildly. Your lovely gardens always give me hope; thank you! Happy anticipation!

    • Thank you, Kitty. I knew we would have some early bloom but the last few very warm days triggered a lot more than I expected. It dipped into the 20’s last night with a dusting of snow but it is back up to the high 40’s today. You are so right about the wild fluctuations – it makes me nervous even as I enjoy the fruits of early warmth. Anything could happen in the next six weeks – heat, snow and everything in between, Good to know that your plants are safely tucked under the snow – that’s the best protection of all!

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