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Our favorite late winter, early spring bloomers

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” –Charles Dickens

You know spring is on its way when you hear birds chirping outside your window, and the tiniest buds begin to unfurl and blossom, sometimes even through the snow.

After a long winter, there’s nothing quite like longer, warmer days and bright sunshine to lift our spirits. Flowers are one of the most welcome first signs of early spring; a yellow or purple crocus peeking through fallen brown leaves or the tiniest dash of blue squill are enough to make a naturalist’s heart swoon. These moments remind us of the Matisse quotation where there are always flowers for those who wish to see them.

I did not expect to survive, earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect to waken again, to feel in damp earth my body able to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold light of earliest spring.” –from poet laureate, Louise Glück’s “Snowdrops”

  • Snowdrops are exquisite because, although small and delicate, they are one of late winter/early spring’s very first bloomers. While their droopy heads may appear completely white, they are, at closer inspection, dappled with the most beautiful green lines and centers, as if they were painstakingly decorated by the tiniest paintbrush.
  • Daffodils: Of course, we all know of Wordsworth’s ode to Daffodils where he wanders as lonely as a cloud and his heart dances, but there’s lots of poetry about the Narcissus flower or daffodil. Also known as jonquils, writers of the American South have written lovingly about them, such as Tennessee Williams in “The Glass Menagerie.” There are over 27,000 varieties of narcissus, and they have been popular in England since the Tudor period. They are also called “trumpet flowers” and the “flower of March” (since they are that month’s birth blossom).
  • Hellebores (also known as “globeflowers” or “marsh marigolds”) are known for their ability to thrive in shady areas and even bloom during winter months. While they slightly resemble wild roses, they come in a variety of colors and are known for their profuse green foliage.
  • Siberian squill is, despite its name, not really native to Siberia. These perennials are hardy little plants that are very tolerant of cold weather; they spread easily and provide a wonderful pop of pale or vivid blue to any garden. With six petals, they resemble tiny stars and are famous for covering an entire forest floor!
  • Forsythia: When you see that first sight of bright yellow on the bush, you know that spring is on her way. This bright color, rivaling sunshine, provides an instant dopamine rush. Did you know that forsythia is actually edible?
  • Quince is a flowering shrub that produces a fruit not dissimilar to a pear. Known for their pink and red blossoms (which range from pale to lurid), these shrubs experience a relatively long period in early spring, where they can be found bountiful with blossoms.
  • Crocuses are so small and close to the ground they don’t immediately demand attention, but if you take a moment, it’s impossible not to notice them, sometimes even blooming through the snow. With bright colour varieties like deep purple and egg yolk yellow, they provide lovely ground cover for flowerbeds. Since most of these flowers mentioned are bulbs, they come back every year. They also bloom in lovely lavender hues and have a bright yellow center.
  • Tulips: while tulips seem to bloom slightly later than the very first peepers (such as snowdrops and crocuses), they are definitely one of the season’s most beloved flowers. Tulip bulbs were once used as currency and are, of course, the national flower of the Netherlands. Did you know that adding a penny to your vase of tulips may help to keep them straight? We actually love the bendy, out-of-control stems that create their own sort of sculptural beauty! Even wilted, tulips are poetically striking.

From Chelsea Flowers for Easter

There’s nothing more fitting for a holiday celebrating resurrection than gorgeous spring flowers. For blue irises, check out “The Glory of Easter” bouquet from Chelsea Flowers and, of course, don’t skimp on the tulips! Mixed arrangements of tulips with every colour variety are available to make the season truly special.

For more information on all your floral arranging needs this spring, consult Chelsea Flowers at the website and visit the links below:

For more information on flowers mentioned in the blog:

Some reading references (filled with botanical illustrations) for all you plant lovers out there include “The Flowering Plants, Grasses, Sedges, and Ferns of Great Britain, and their Allies the Club Mosses, Pepperworts and Horsetails” by Anne Pratt, 1899 and “The Floral World and Garden Guide,” 1871.