February 26

Sunshine on the Ground

Winter aconites are suddenly flowering with our common snowdrops underneath the old apple tree at the beginning of our woodland path. I love this cheerful bulb, almost as early to bloom as the snowdrop, each cupped flower colored glossy slicker-yellow, resting on a deeply-cut, dark green ruff of a leaf. It is officially known as Eranthis hyemalis, and is a member of the buttercup family. Like snowdrops and daffodils, aconites are not palatable to marauding critters (large or small) and are wonderful flowers for naturalizing. Plant aconites under deciduous trees where they will get spring sunshine and summer shade and gradually they will seed and spread about. I brought a tiny clump of them, maybe a half-a-dozen bulbs, from my old house when I moved to Duck Hill thirty years ago, and each year the little flowers have increased, cropping up here and there and now making a generous carpet. If you do not have a friend who can give you a few from her or his garden, order the tubers early from a bulb company and plant them in the fall as soon as they arrive. Aconites usually flower in early March, but this year they are making their appearance a week or two early.

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