Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Signs of Spring a Week Post-Solstice

Seattle isn't getting any interesting winter weather right now--nothing headline-grabbing like the blizzard that ate New York or grounded so many jets in Europe--but the temperature is definitely putting the "brrr" in "Decembrrrr." And it was pretty weird outside about five minutes ago, with snow sheeting sideways at a 45-degree bright sunshine.

Everything's soberly clad in tones of dark pine green, slate gray, ice blue, and brown. But surprisingly, we're seeing some lime-green spears of spring color here and there. They're not the usual suspects, either, such as crocuses, primroses, and hellebores.

Somehow, the message that we're going to have a very cold, snowy, hard winter in the Pacific Northwest didn't get through to assorted plants--or else they know something we don't. Or they're just tougher than we think.

It's odd to see these sparks of life just steps away from, say, a towering oak tree still rattling with dry brown leaves or clumps of exotic grasses that resemble fistfuls of ice needles.

I'm pretty sure these are daffodils poking their heads up from the sodden soil
and leaf litter, though they look a lot like those eerie giant tube worms that live deep
in the ocean around hydrothermal vents. We had record-setting warm temperatures
in January last year, with daffodils blooming mid-month, so perhaps this patch of
flowers is giddy with that memory.

The garden is spiked with crocosmia that I wouldn't
have expected to see just yet--it seems as if they'd
just faded away yesterday and really should go back
to bed for another 40 winks.

Here's one I'm not surprised to see on the verge of blooming: these are the
flower buds of a V. tinus "Spring Bouquet." Its name notwithstanding, it
typically blooms in winter. How do I love this plant? Let me count the ways: pretty,
understated flowers; purple-black berries that hang on for months; bright
evergreen foliage; thrives on little water; doesn't get woody and stalky; asks
for nothing and gives a lot in return.