Jane Miller

birthday bloom

HepaticaBlogI celebrate two flowers on March 30th every year. On this date, without fail, Hepatica blooms in my yard. One of the earliest woodland wildflowers to emerge in spring, its tiny cup-shape purple, pink, or white flowers grow just 6 inches tall, often appearing before the foliage unfurls. This native is so delicate in stature that its arrival each year often brings me to my knees for a close-up view. Unlike woodland ephemerals that die back to the ground after they bloom – such as spring beauty, Dutchman’s breeches, and Virginia bluebells – the heart-shape, three-lobe leaves of Hepatica keep growing during the spring and summer months. My little clump never requires attention other than my yearly gestures of appreciation. The leaves that drop on the plants in autumn act as both blanket and nourishment.

The other flower I rejoice on March 30 requires a little more upkeep. On this day 14 years ago, my daughter Jayne came into the world. Jayne’s birth was every bit a miracle for me as Spring’s rebirth is each year. She’s a beautiful bloom in her mother’s eyes.

Welcome back, Hepatica. And happy birthday, Jayne.

Jayne's interest in gardening began when she was just two.

Jayne's interest in gardening began when she was just two.

Jane Miller

spring unleashed

Spring unleashes the inner puppy in gardeners. With boundless joy, we can’t wait to get down on all fours and dig in the dirt as soon as the ground thaws. Thanks to a new German Shepherd pup in my house, our first signs of Spring this year were muddy paw prints on the living room carpet.

Apollo is all ears when I tell him Spring has arrived.

Apollo is all ears when I tell him Spring has arrived.

With house-training little Apollo as my main motivator, I spent a lot of time outdoors this past month examining every square foot of our property, several times each day. Nose to the ground, Apollo follows scent trails of rabbits and deer while I inspect the tree and shrub damage those hungry critters have caused.

Yesterday, I discovered a pair of cheerful yellow winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) blooming in my woodland garden. Nearby, a clump of jonquil (Narcissus hybrids) sprouts were muscling their way through the leaf litter. Fortunately, the rabbits and deer find these tender morsels distasteful.

Before too long, I’ll be digging in the garden. I hope Apollo doesn’t get any ideas.

Winter aconite is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in spring.

Winter aconite is one of Spring's earliest blooms.

Fingerlike narcissus sprouts punch through a fallen oak leaf.

Finger-like narcissus sprouts break through a fallen oak leaf.