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The Color of Spring

Van Sion daffodils

These daffodils are growing into a rose bush – or the bush is growing into the daffs, I’m not sure which. These bulbs were here when we moved in 30 years ago. They are unusual in the slim pointed ‘petals’ of the perianth, and the fluffy doubleness of the cup. There is also a slight greenish tinge in some petals which I enjoy. I have Kathy Purdy to thank for identifying these daffs which are an heirloom variety and that I now recognize growing all over town.

Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, is named for the shape of the large leaves, which will not appear until the flowers fade. Many people see these from a distance and assume they are looking at dandelions,  but they bloom much earlier. They often grow in disturbed ground, and  though they can be brought into the garden. These grow by the side of my road.

I dug up some roots and moved them to the newly formed bank after we had our foundation repaired last year. The soil is not very good, but it is disturbed and the plants have spread. You can see the new shoots that have not yet bloomed. This site is less sunny than the side of the road.  Another name is Coughwort, and it has been used in many cultures and over time as an infusion to cure coughs and respiratory problems.

On my rounds about town I have been admiring my neighbor’s witch hazel, Hamamelis, that has been blooming brilliantly for at least a week. This is another plant that is often mistakenly identified, at least from a distance. It blooms earlier than forsythia which is tightly budded at this point, and the flowers are unique little twirly things, very different from forsythia flowers. Most varieties are yellow, but there is a red flowered variety named ‘Diane’ which I am looking for and want to plant in honor of my daughter Diane.  Some will be familiar with witch hazel, an astringent that is still sold at drugstores for skin care.

As if the golden sun and golden blooms were not enough, spring took a giant step forward when three roses were delivered from Chamblee’s Roses in Texas. I’m afraid I gave them the wrong delivery date – subconscious impatience. These are Griffith Buck hardy shrub roses. Hawkeye Belle is ‘honeysuckle white tinged with pink that becomes more intense in shade,” Prairie Harvest is a soft yellow, and Quietness is a beautiful pink. More colors of spring, but I will wait a little longer before I put them in the ground.  They can rest for a while in a protected spot on  the piazza.

9 comments to The Color of Spring

  • Thanks for that plant id on the coltsfoot. I just saw that in my neighbors garden and she asked me if I knew what it was. I was going back with the camera to take a picture and ask all bloggers but you have answered the question. Many thanks.

  • Pat

    Layanee – I got lucky to get such a clear photo. Glad it served its purpose.

  • The witch hazel is beautiful! I need to add one to my garden. It would be so nice to have winter blooms.

  • Pat – so glad I’m not the only Coltsfoot admirer! It grows along the edge of the road here and is so bright and cheerful right now when there’s not a lot else blooming….I imagine it must be attractive to pollinators too.

  • I’ve never seen daffs like that before. And yours were left by a former inhabitant of the house, how lucky! I got an order too soon and am frantically trying not to kill them off before planting out date (a mere two months off).

    Christine in Alaska

  • Pat

    Carole – too bad we can’t go shopping together.
    Ellen – It is always shock a happy shock to see those beautiful golden flowers along the muddy roadside.
    Christine – We are lucky that the former owners – deep in the past – left those daffs. Good luck with your order.

  • My spring is a week or two ahead of yours, it looks like. The red maple and maple trees starting blooming a week or so ago, as did the daffodils. Forsythia is now in flower. Yesterday redbud starting blooming and I saw my first tulips. I’m supposed to be in zone 5b, I believe.

  • Pat

    Alison – I have so much trouble remembering whether the b designation is the colder or warmer of the two.

  • Those ‘Van Sion’ are also fragrant. That is another thing I like about them. Mine seem to be especially numerous this year. I wonder if their doubleness is encouraged by the kind of weather we had last fall, when the flowers were forming inside the bulbs.

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