Monday, April 2, 2012

Farewell to a Memorable March

April showers bring May flowers . . .
But what do March flowers bring??

It's official--March 2012 was the warmest March on record in my part of Illinois, a March unlike any in recent memory and a March we may never see again.  All the warm sunny days produced a kaleidoscope of blooms all racing to join the show and seemingly trying to outdo each other in splendor.  I couldn't let the month end without sharing some of these blooms with you, and looking back at what was a most unusual but magnificent month.

If you had visited my garden last week, the first thing that would have caught your eye were the flowering crabapples lining the drive.  Some years a hard freeze nips their buds, and they barely bloom, while other years strong winds or storms will blow off the pink petals before we've had time to enjoy them.  But not this year--every tree was covered with a mass of blooms that lasted well over a week.  Each year I try to capture this magic moment on camera:  this photo was taken last Wednesday, a few days past their prime, but they're still looking good.

 Appleblossom time usually arrives at the end of April or the first week of May; their early appearance this year was just one of many early arrivals in March. The white crabapple is always the last to bloom, but it lasts the longest and in many ways is my favorite of all.  If you look closely, you'll see the bees are out and about already as well.

The lilac provided the first butterfly sighting--the Red Admirals have arrived. I don't remember the crabapples and lilacs ever blooming simultaneously before.  But the old lilac appreciated the warmth, too, and produced more blooms than ever.  Its delicious fragrance was carried on the breeze all the way to the front door.

The crocuses and early daffodils have faded away, but nearly every other spring bloomer was determined to make an early appearance this year.  I find it hard to get a decent long shot of any of the garden areas, but many such photos were taken anyway, mostly for my own records to determine suitable planting spots this fall.  By fall the shade garden above will be a mass of green, making it hard to find some bare soil for digging.  But as you can see, there are plenty of empty spots for adding more bulbs.  In the upper center of the photo, you'll notice a large grouping of tulips and daffodils.  These were planted in front of the tall spruce tree on the left, where nothing--not even grass--grows.  I envisioned a sweep of colorful blooms in front of this tree that could be seen as you drive up the lane, and I planted two bargain bags of mixed tulips and daffodils.  I realized when they bloomed, though, that more than 100 bulbs are needed for that vision:)  The fall to-do list has already been started . . .

I realized trying to include all the different blooms the past few weeks would have meant a ridiculously long post, so I've grouped some of them in collages.  Top Row: Fothergilla 'Blue Shadow'; hellebores peeking from behind narcissus in shade garden; reliable 'Pink Impression' tulips with purple hyacinths. Bottom Row: old-fashioned lilac covered in blooms; petite 'Tazettas' in arbor bed; Brunnera 'Jack Frost' in shade garden.

Top Row: Only one of last year's new 'Professor Roentgen' returned; unknown orange tulip in lily bed; new 'Akebona' tulip; one of bargain mix daffodils in front of evergreen.  Bottom Row: varieties of muscari edge part of lily bed; either 'Apricot Beauty' or 'Apricot Delight' in sidewalk bed; NOID yellow tulip; more narcissus.

But there are a few blooms, especially some of the new tulips planted in the arbor bed that deserve individual portraits.  Purplish-pink 'Double Maureen' is a true beauty queen.

Edged in red, 'Akebona' opens to a delicate pale yellow. 

With streaks of pink, 'Montreux' is a pristine white beauty.  You may have noticed I have a fondness for double flowering tulips.  Last year's stunner, the orange 'Professor Roentgen', had a disappointing return this year, and I wonder if these new more exotic double tulips will be short-lived as well.  I try to plant more of the hardier Darwin tulips, but there will always be a few new double beauties for me to admire each spring.

With all the tulips blooming a month early, I am beginning to wonder if there will be anything blooming in April.  Still, there are a few varieties of tulips yet to bloom, including the later 'Angeliques' which are just beginning to open up.  My favorite of all tulips, the 'Angeliques' have returned reliably for several years,

But spring isn't just about tulips--my granddaughter's favorite bloom of all, the old-fashioned bleeding heart, always draws attention in the shade garden.

I'm not sure what April will bring--much-needed showers, a return to frosty nights, or the early arrival of summer flowers.  But whatever happens, I shouldn't complain--March, you have been magnificent!


  1. We also had the driest and warmest March since 1965.
    Now its gone cooler and still no rain.

    You have such lovely colour in your garden. magnificent photos.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. Maggie, We apparently were visiting each other at the same time--too bad I couldn't have offered you a cup of tea while you were here:)

  3. Your garden and mine are about at the same stage and it sure is a lovely stage. I'm glad you documented it all for this March was amazing. Those trees along the driveway-stunning.

  4. Rose, had a question, are you anywhere near Peoria? My husband is working there and I plan to visit him at some point. If you are close to there perhaps we could arrange a lunch or something. Email me if you get the chance.

  5. Hey Rose I can understand you loved the passing month of March. Fantastic flowers you are sharing. And many different species of Tulips. Fantastic to see.
    Have a lovely week.

  6. Oooh, what a feast for the eyes your garden is, Rose! So many wonderful tulips, too. I have to admit to loving the bleeding heart. Your grand daughter is wise.

  7. Just lovely Rose! Those crabapples are magnificent!! I have two tiny tiny watercolor paintbrush sized crabs ...but they are alive!! Can't wait til they are like yours.
    Double Maureen is gorgeous!! At first glance I thought it was a peony.

  8. Rose I am astounded at all that is in bloom...we had the warmest March ever but our March heat ended a week ago and we were left with frozen temps and plants none too happy...

  9. Our bleeding heart is just shooting up! I'm sure you could measure the amount it grows on a daily basis! A while before we have flowers on it though.

    We've ordered a load of hellebores having just discovered their beauty.

    Your double tulips are gorgeous! Tulips can appear a bit boring but those are stunning.

  10. Rose your allee of crabapples is spectacular! I'm glad you were able to see their show in its entirety this year. You have so many beautiful spring flowers too!

  11. All of Spring bloomed at once in my gardens too. You did have a gorgeous March....I am hoping for April showers to cool things down a was 90 degrees yesterday...Hello July!
    Love your photographs....
    Happy Easter,

  12. Tina, The crabapple show is my favorite time of year; I only wish it would last longer. I will email you--I'm on the way to Peoria!

    Marijke, I am a tulip addict, I've decided:) I love every variety!

    Frances, It took me a few failed attempts before I finally got a bleeding heart to survive here. I'm glad this one has taken off--I love the little heart-shaped blooms.

    Janet, These crabapples are at least 30 years old, and I've worried in the past that they might be getting diseased. But this year they've outdone themselves. 'Double Maureen' does look just like a peony blossom.

    Donna, I've been fearing a frost here, too, but we have been so lucky thus far. Today it's in the mid-80's!

    Liz, Glad your bleeding heart is doing so well; you're going to love those hellebores, too. Mine took a year or two before they really bloomed, so have patience if they don't do much the first year. I'm a tulip addict!

    Sweetbay, My only complaint is that everything seemed to bloom at once this year--April could be pretty bare:)

    Sherry, It was such a glorious March, but I'm ready for a cool-down, too. It's in the mid-80's here today.

  13. Rose girl ! OH MY GOODNESS !!
    Your Crabapple trees are stunning as is all of your plants in the post .. my favourite is the white crabapple with the bee .. that is gorgeous ! We had the same weird heat wave too and it did boost plants a little too fast .. but it got us out in the garden to really try and get it cleaned up .. a tree removes and the beds edged .. today the boys helped me a lot.. I think we are all exhausted now!LOL
    It has been a strange Spring with heat waves and records breaking .. but you are way ahead of me .. our service berry has broken bud before I could get the dormant spray on it .. so I hate to see another year with rust .. fingers crossed.
    I would love to smell your lilacs .. that makes me smile big time !
    How we love our gardens especially coming out of winter (even though it was hardly a winter ? LOL)

  14. My daughters favorite are the bleeding hearts too

    The last 10 days here have been like yours and the spring flowers were no sooner out than over! Apple trees not quite out yet but flowering cherries well on the way. Much needed rain forecast for the next few days and a return to cold weather so goodness knows how the blossom will fair.

    Your spring garden is beautiful, all those bulbs -wow!

    Hope all is well with you?

    S x

  15. Just beautiful. I feel the same way about March 2012.

  16. So many beautiful blooms there, Rose! The drive lined with Crabapples is spectacular! And you have quite a collection of Tulips. When I first scrolled down to the 'Double Maureen' I thought it was a Peony! Yes, March was interesting. We had cooler temps last week while I was away, but not a freeze. So all the blooms are lasting a lot longer. Yay!

  17. Your photos and your garden are lovely Rose. What a good idea to group some of the photos together - I think I might steal that idea!! I also have Angelique tulips but they are just in bud at the moment. We are a bit behind you here in NW France but we also had 2 weeks of sunny dry warm weather and I am pleased it is cooler now because I want my blossom to last! Happy gardening!

  18. Wow: that is a gorgeous spring! We're still in mud season with freezing nights. I have this to look forward to. Your apple blossoms are divine. Not only is your garden lovely, you capture it so well.

  19. Hi Rose, I agree that this has been the most amazing March! Who can argue with warm sunny days that feel more like days in May than March. Your crabapples and lilacs are so beautiful. I can't wait for mine to open up now! Looking at all your tulips, I wish I had planted more last fall. Oh well, there is always next year...

  20. All so lovely, Rose ... even with record-braking weather here in MI, you are still ahead of me! This cooler weather suits my fancy, keeping blooms longer to enjoy. Happy Spring, dear friend :)

  21. March was been magnificent. Let us remember this when we are sweltering this summer. :)

  22. Florida has been the same way, everything arriving about a month earlier than usual. We had a green dusting of tree (mainly oak) pollen covering everything by the middle of February!

    Your tulips are spectacular, Rose. I did think that one of them was a peony. The bleeding heart is one my favorites too.

  23. I love that drive lined with flowering trees! Beautiful! :o)

  24. What a riot of colour, spring was very good to you this year. Glad to see all the tulips and flowers labelled as there were several I was drooling over and wondering what they were. I just planted Angelique for the first time this past fall and am eagerly awaiting their arrival. Hope mine look nearly as good as yours do.

  25. Oh my goodness Rose!! I meant to visit sooner than this but now I'm glad I came today, you have no idea how much you have brightened up a very wet Easter Monday. All this beautiful colour is a joy! I gasped when I saw the tree blossom and the delights just kept appearing as I scrolled down :-) I do like those double tulips, just gorgeous!

    Lovely to see the butterfly too :-)

    I hope you get some of that much needed rain soon, ours, though tiresome on a public holiday, has been very welcome.

  26. It was a crazy-warm March, and as beautiful as it was, I'm glad April (so) far has been more seasonal. We could definitely use some rain - I can't remember a drier March than this year.

    Your garden looks beautiful Rose! Bleeding hearts are favorites of mine too, ever since I was a kid.

  27. Hi Rose - I would like to give you a Sunshine Award because I just love your garden! If you've already received one, never mind, have another one!!

  28. Your crabapple entrance is just stunning this year! We had more blooms then ever on our tree but they came and went so quickly that I never found the time to snap a photo. Oh well, there is always next year! Those are some really old trees being 30. I just love older mature trees. My parents have a older crabapple and they said it was stunning this year as well. Again, no photos to share. Thanks for sharing your beautiful spring blooms. We had the hottest March on record also.... This am we had 43 degrees and they say we may be back into the 90's next week. Crazy stuff.....

  29. Rose truly a riot of Spring color has arrived and what a show!! My eyes are popping looking at all the beautiful pops of Spring blossoms and butterflys already!
    I can't wait to get back home to my garden to see what will be waiting for me!
    Having said that OH my the desert is in full form with all the cacti blooming! A great time to be an observer.
    I have been spending time in a Healing Garden> cough cough.
    Have a beautiful week xo

  30. Strange to have flowers blooming all at once! But lovely to look at. You are way ahead of us, but then that's no surprise.

    I've missed the warm weather we had in march. It's colder now, but more seasonal.

    I've enjoyed looking at your spring garden. Thanks for sharing.


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