March 25

Early Yellows

IMG_1931The brilliant flowers of Adonis amurensis have opened despite the ongoing cold, and winter aconites (Eranthis hymelis) are a puddle of sunshine under an apple tree. These two stalwart beauties–one a perennial, the other a bulb–flower with the same determination as the snowdrops, and are in their prime right now. So many years ago, almost thirty-four, I dug up a tiny clump of winter aconites from my old yard and brought them to this new home, planting them under an ancient apple tree along what became my woodland path. Maybe four or five flowers bloomed that first spring. I knew aconites spread through seeding if they are happy. And so they did, year after year, spreading and multiplying slowly but steadily. For some years I counted to see how many new ones flowered–but when there were more than 50 I gave up. Now there is a great pool of these buttercup-yellow flowers opening wide above their Elizabethan ruff of leaves intermingling with snowdrops. A few have even cropped up on the other side of the path several yards away, and I hope they will carpet the ground there one day too. The adonis was a new plant to me a few years ago– a gift from a wonderful old-time gardener who has since died. Seeing their bold yellow buds thrust through the leafy brown debris of the woodland and open wide with a hint of warmth seems a tribute to our friend.

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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.