The Flower Power of a Cool Spring

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The Flower Power of a Cool Spring

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

This cool spring may not be good for wearing shorts and tank tops but the early spring flowers have never been happier! Many of the spring bulbs actually do best with temperatures around 55F so this unusual maritime-like spring is much to their liking. It is a spring more like the Pacific Northwest or England. Get out and celebrate it with all the spring blossoms at Powell

Spring Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum) are one of my favorite spring bulbs and a challenge to get started. We have several nice clumps of this beauty in the Rock & Waterfall Garden.

Pink Giant Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’) is still a small flower but big for it’s species. The soft pink blooms are very reliable and it readily spreads into nice clumps. Look for it on the east end of the Island Garden.

The first daffodil of the season is again the trumpet cultivar Rijnveld’s Early Sensation.’ This is a must have for all with spring fever and it bloomed in January last year! I had to pick them before the severe cold of February last year but this winter held their bloom off until March. Look for them in many locations at the gardens — the daffodils are poised for there best show in years and we have many thousands to come see.

The cyclamineus daffodil ‘Jetfire is also in bloom and one of the most reliable and early varieties for our region. These were on the east hill of the Island Garden.

The earliest blooming shrubs are out and the winter honeysuckles are among the best. This is the rare hybrid Lonicera x purpusii. It’s flowers are deliciously lemon scented and are a very good early nectar source for honeybees. The winter honeysuckles (L. fragrantissima, L. standishii and their hybrid L. x purpusii) are not native but are not invasive like some species. They can bloom as early as January but are putting on a good show now. They are hard to find but I saw Soil Service Nursery still carries them and all three are available mailorder from Forest Farm ( which is a great source for small very rare trees and shrubs.

The cute golden flowers of the Cornelian-cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas) are also in bloom in the gardens. This small tree is much prized in Eastern Europe for its edible but tart red fruit in summer. We have several Russian & Ukrainian selections in our nurseries for the Heartland Harvest Garden.

My beloved magnolias are getting ready to flower too — this is a picture of the bud of a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). The flowers are a bit frost tolerant in this species as it is native to just a couple mountaintops in Japan. Hopefully its beautiful, fragrant white flowers will be out in full in a week or so. The furry winter flower buds adorn the small trees all winter. New “tepals” (neither sepals nor petals) can have a pinkish tinge, though we have some pink-flowering cultivars on the grounds. Powell Gardens has one of the most extensive collections of magnolias outside both coasts.