a bloomin good time

This would have been easy to miss, had I not been searching for it. Do you see the raggedy little splash of orange in about the middle of the picture? Actually, there are several others, but the blossom in focus is the easiest to spot against the background of mulch. It is Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’, and I have high hopes for it (as yet unfulfilled, but then it is just a baby). It is billed as a fiery-leaved standout in the fall garden, and these small flowers are supposed to be a treat to the nose. When I get that close to the ground, all I can smell is dirt.

The snowdrops have been around since January, but when they were peeking through the snow they seemed beleaguered. As soon as the snow melted, they perked right up and looked ready for their close-up. Unlike the big, blowsy blossoms of high summer, all of the early performers reward close attention. See how they nestle up to the Heuchera ‘Caramel’?…or is it ‘Amber Waves’? They look similar this early in the year, when they are struggling to maintain composure in the face of unpredictable weather.

Every year the primroses show up at the supermarket right after Christmas decorations come down and everything looks drab. I can never resist a few for the porch, and have found that if I tuck them into the woodland, they come back year after year. The white ones seem to be the hardiest, and show up best against the duff and moss. These, too, have been blooming since January, but who goes out there to appreciate them until about now?

I see why violets are often referred to as “shy” since they barely peek out above the carpet of leaves. Demure they may be, but the irrepressibly bold scent will draw your attention. I like to pick a few each day to perfume the air. They won’t last long, and you must find a tiny vase, but as few as 5 can fill a room without overwhelming it the way paperwhites will. I let these run rampant wherever they are happy. They form a dense, evergreen mat that is very effective at blocking weeds. Be forewarned, though, as many gardeners consider them invasive.

follow the bouncing balls

My daughter gave me this hat for Christmas. It is a little challenging to wear, but I love it. So far, I have worn it only to walk up and down the hill by our house…hardly a public outing. Here’s the thing: this hat is downright therapeutic. As I walk along, the little balls bump against my head ever so gently. It is almost like the scalp massage that is the best part of getting a haircut. There is, so far, no evidence of increased brain activity, but I am more inclined to make time for my walk despite inclement weather and/or a general tendency towards laziness.

who needs hearts & flowers?

My sweetheart gave me rocks for Valentine’s Day…and I was thrilled to pieces. Of course these were no ordinary rocks…at least not the small, smooth kind handy for skipping across bodies of water or anchoring flowers in a clear vase (I covet those, too, and on walks can never pass one by without stooping to pick it up and drop it in a pocket). No, these could more aptly be described as boulders. Richard says at the quarry they differentiate by calling them half-man, one man or two-man, depending upon how much of a man is required to lift one. R is secure enough in his manhood to settle for half-man rocks. When I suggested that, between the two of us, it should be easy to lift them out of the truck, he declared, “What do you mean? We’ll just roll them out. They’re rocks! What can happen to them?” Now the trick is placement. There are four of these beauties, and I won’t want to squander their impact by misjudging where to put them. Tomorrow is predicted to be a beautiful day, and I look forward to carting my rocks around, with the aid of a dolly, to try out different locations and dream of their future with moss and lichens and little ground covers spilling around them.

So far, so good. It’s a long time until my birthday…maybe if I play my cards right I will rate a load of gravel.