In the midst of all the snow and ice we’ve been experiencing, it may seem hard to believe that spring is nearly within sight. But by the end of February, increasing daylight and warmer temperatures will begin to break up the monotonous cold and we will see stirrings of life and definite signs that winter is on its way out. As the earth warms and becomes active, the first green tips of spring bulbs will break through the surface of the soil. Birds will start singing their morning songs and insects will be seen humming sleepily about, waking up from their long winter’s nap.
At Oliver Winery, the first flowers to appear are always our parking lot island plantings of Crocus chrysanthus. Opening as early as the last week in February if sunny weather permits, these small but bright sparks of purple, blue and gold are like healing medicine to my winter-weary spirit. The crocus are accompanied by snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii), which bloom in drifts of fresh white above the thawing ground.
As March rolls around, waves of daffodils will begin to open in succession, led by ‘Jetfire’, a perky and vigorous favorite of mine with golden, swept-back petals and a long, bright orange cup. These are gorgeous in combination with the electric blue blooms of Scilla siberica, a tough, easy and inexpensive little bulb that naturalizes freely here. Next in line is miniature daffodil ‘Tete a Tete’, and then breezy ‘Barret Browning’, whose fresh white petals surround a small, vivid orange cup. This last beauty makes a spectacular show beneath the lavender-flocked branches of our stand of eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis).
The first tulips start to flaunt their colors towards the very end of March. Among the best and brightest is ‘Juan’, a variety I consistently use from year to year. Its unbelievably brilliant red petals are glowing yellow at the base, and are set off by decorative, blue-green foliage that is mottled and striped with purple. Like other Fosteriana tulips, ‘Juan’ will perennialize well if not eaten by critters (we have no such luck). It is particularly smashing in combination with blue hyacinths.
One of my absolute favorite early spring bulbs is Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’. These cheerful, daisylike flowers form low, spreading pools of pale to deep blue among the feet of taller bulbs and emerging perennials. Although beautiful anywhere, they look particularly amazing with orange and apricot-hued tulips such as ‘Orange Emperor’ or ‘Daydream’. Let them to go to seed as I do, and they will eventually make breathtaking drifts. White and pink varieties are also available, and these may cross with the blue ones if planted nearby, making for some fun new color surprises.
Oliver Winery is the perfect place to drink in the sights, smells and sounds of the first warm days of the year. Come celebrate spring with us by enjoying a picnic by the pond and a stroll down our many winding, flower-lined paths. On cooler days, our porch and patio heaters allow guests to sit outdoors comfortably while enjoying a glass of wine in the fresh air and sunshine. We look forward to seeing you here! It won’t be long now before everything bursts into life again.