20 April 2010

Anodyne for April-is-the-cruelest-month-itis

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The weather finally remembered that this is April in Nova Scotia, and threw a hissy fit worthy of a prima dona ex-federal tory cabinet minister stuck in a Charlottetown airport. There was no bad language out of the weather, tis true, but there was plenty out of me while I watched wind, rain, snow, more wind, chilly temperatures, and of course, yet more wind over the past few days.

However, I laugh in the face of such adversity. Ha. Ha.

Guess that wasn't overly convincing, was it? Okay, yes, I'm still cranky about the weather. But I've been using the inside days to get other work done so I can take a day off and go outside when April resumes behaving like a genteel lady once again. In the meantime, let's talk about some spring performers that make us happy. Like Lantana, which of course is an indoor performer at present but will be festooning many of my containers when the weather warms up again (top photo of Landmark sunrise).

Or primulas. I am very fond of them and have a few, though I plan to have a few more sooner rather than later. The watercolour one in the second photo is a lovely plant at the NSAC rock garden, and I'm hoping it has babies to share. This brilliant red and gold character came from Lloyd Mapplebeck's nursery last spring, and looks to be multiplying at a good rate. None of these primulas are in flower yet, I hasten to add. We're early, but we're not that early.

This brave soul, on the other hand, is close to flowering. This is Primula frondosa, the cutest little alpine-like primula you ever saw. We're talking tiny; each rosette is about the size of my camera lens cap, and the flowers are pea-sized. I love it.
Sneezing, looking around resentfully, but putting in an appearance is my old friend the hepatica. This simple little bloom makes my heart happy every spring when it and its friends put in an appearance. A native of Nova Scotia but all but extirpated, I got this from a nursery that grew its own plants from seed years ago. It's very slowgrowing, however, so I don't expect to have the woods awash in it any time soon.

The pieris that my friend Dick Steele gave me is quivering with anticipation. Just a few more days, and it will erupt into displays like this, it promises me. I've cut the holly back this year so the pieris has more room to shine.

Ah, the beautiful blues of scilla. This is one of those true blue flowers that just makes my heart happy to see it. It multiplies nicely, not insanely fast but with good persistance, and its cobalt blue flowers are very satisfying.

This rock cress is a determined plant. As soon as the weather warms up even slightly and sunlight hits it on its rocky hillside, it's in bloom. I haven't had as good success with the more lavender and magenta forms, but the white one does splendidly for me year after year.

A little foliage now, to excite us about things to come. Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven' is reminding me that I love it for its foliage as well as for its softly blue flowers later in the spring.

And lastly, a perfect, exquisite, fragrant magnolia from down in the Valley. Mine aren't in bloom yet, and are still enough wrapped in their furry perules (those furry seed coverings) that the chilly weather won't harm the buds. I've convinced myself that I really should add one of the hardier yellow-flowered magnolias to the garden this year. Don't you think that's a good idea too?


  1. Dear Jodi, How very depressing it must be to think, for one moment, that spring has arrived only to have a return to cold winds, ice and snow. You are though putting a very good face on things and what you show flowering in the garden must, whatever, lift your spirits. All the primula are lovely and, as for Hepaticas [so very slow with me], can one ever tire?

    Unfortunately, I am unable to comment or post for the next ten days or so. But, I shall return!

  2. Beautiful shots - I love the hepatica. I'm not that familiar with it and I bet it wouldn't like our weather here. The primula is a knockout as well.

  3. Aww sorry you got the crappy weather on your end - I liked your post though, made me smile! Have a great day and your magnolia picture is beautiful!

  4. Yikes! I can only sense the frustration. I have the same problem Monday through Friday. Only mine isn't the weather, it's work. HA!

    Stiff upper lip. Spring will be here in full force before you know it, and you'll be looking forward to an excuse for a break.

  5. I most certainly do think, a new yellow hardy magnolia is in order! ))

  6. Hi Jodi,
    I really enjoy your blog! Our spring in Alberta is always up and down too; perhaps even more up and more down than Nova Scotia. Having spent my first 22 years in Nova Scotia, I know what your springs are like.
    The hepatica in my own garden is blooming, and the scilla, chionodoxia and prairie crocus. I will have to get out in the perennial trial garden this week to take some pictures.

  7. Jodi, what a lovely flowers you have to come. April is being kind to us so far dry and sunny We could do with some April showers but NO frosts, please! Yes I think you would enjoy a yellow magnolia, I know I would, but I need a bigger garden first!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  8. Oh how frustrating! We're going through something similar here on the West Coast, but it's a bit more unusual. Our average frost date was a month ago and here I am still worrying about freezing temps. We've had strange weather this year all around.

  9. Even in our warm climate, April has done a switch-a-roo, and keeps clinging to a winter-like weather pattern. We're teased on the weekend with glorious sunshine and mid 70's temps...and today the rains are mimicking a February storm.

    I love the look of the little Primula frondosa, it looks so delicate. I think you should go for the yellow magnolia, it would complement your blue Scilla perfectly.

  10. I love your Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven' I have zero early spring flowers, except for the handful of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and a couple of Darwin Hybrid Tulips.
    Thanks to blogs like yours I beginning to learn more about early bloomers.

  11. So much to look forward to, dear Jodi! And a big yes to the yellow magnolia, Elizabeth isn't it? Our neighbor has one and it is magnificent. Love those little primulas, the tiny one is a gem. Spring will make you a happy lady very soon, I hope. :-)

  12. It is so hard to work indoors when you would much rather be outdoors playing around. Sorry your weather isn't cooperating.
    So many pretty blooms today in the posting. The hot and spicy looking Lantana is so pretty. The gorgeous blues of the hepatica and oh, that pieris. Love there clusters of blooms.I like the pink of this ones blooms.
    And of course the Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven'. I saw this on a blog and fell in love. Have one on order now LOL! I love variegated leaves but add pink to the mix and the temptation was just too much for me.
    The magnolia is a gorgeous picture.Wish I could smell them.

  13. Lantana is so beautiful, but I found I can't stand the smell. I love the stairway to heaven though, it's spring foliage is phenomenal!

  14. We've been enduring reversals all month in the form of snow showers and plunging temps, but I think spring is in the building! Not much foliage (no herbaceous perennials up yet) except for a few bulbs, with only the crocus and scilla blooming. To be fair, the yard is still half covered in snow and it's in the low 40's.

    I've tried and killed several types of variegated Polemoniums, which is distressing as they were all quite gorgeous. Yours looks fetching in pink.

    Christine in Alaska

  15. Don't let the weather get you down - it really does give us a chance to do some of those favorite indoor chores like laundry, cleaning, cooking. Sorry, that is depressing.
    A big yes to the yellow magnolia. Are they hardy enough for your zone?

  16. Wonderful, wonderful pics. And the flowers come with names. Great post. jim

  17. ugh on your fierce April weather Jodi. I hope it turns off the nasty switch soon and goes back to nice.
    I am in love with that pastel Primula!!! Wowee. I just posted about some of the primulas I have currently blooming in my garden and I'd love to have this one! Aren't they the best? I want to add more sooner rather than later too.
    The scilla is beautiful.
    and yes, add a magnolia!!

  18. Oh, I really do think you must get another magnolia - I do. I know I wouldn't be able to resist...! ;-)

  19. Hi Jodi...Finally a warm spring day. I bet you are out enjoying the sunshine for the next few days. I was so excited as you to see the hepatica...my first one to bloom! As for that sweet primula frondosa...I've got to have one...where oh where can I buy one?

  20. Jodi, we had that lovely teasing stretch of beautiful weather earlier, so the return to cold and miserable was very hard to take. It's been somewhat better this week here. Hope you've had some improvement too.
    The colors in that Lantana are so warm and vibrant. I have a yellow that overwintered very nicely.
    I love primulas. My Mum grew a variety I haven't been able to find here (don't know the name). Your tiny one reminds me of them.
    The Polemonium foliage is wonderful! And the blues of scilla...oh my! I wish it would last twice as long.
    My Aubrietta is in very well composted soil and does well, but the white is more vigorous.
    My heart's desire is a deep pink magnolia, but that soft pink is so delicately beautiful. Yellow would be lovely too.
    Thanks for naming the Epiphyllum/orchid cactus for me.
    Happy, happy spring!!

  21. When I was little my girlfriend had a whole fence full of Lantana in her backyard. We called it the bee bush because it attracted so many bees. Thanks for the memory. - Margy

  22. That Primula frondosa looks so sweet - how different your spring is than ours - even the colors seem different. You know how folks swap homes for a week (or more)? It would be nice to swap with you, and enjoy your garden in the springtime - it'd be a different world for me.

    (Wait, I had to laugh - I forgot, for a moment, that I was living in the Airstream. Now that would be an uneven swap! :) )


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