February Updates

A paperwhite (Narcissus) bulb, with several offsets, blooms. (Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill)
A paperwhite (Narcissus) bulb, with several offsets, blooms. (Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill)

It’s been an interesting winter for sure. Record low temperatures and extreme winter chills have kept furnaces running ’round the clock. Frequent messages from service providers, as well as newspaper articles and TV reports, have warned about the dangers of frozen pipes.

However, on Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, which supposedly predicts an early spring. As I work on this column, it is sunny and warm outside.

So, welcome to New England! I’m sure it won’t be long before the wintry weather returns.

During the recent holidays, sparkling red winterberries on some of our hollies (Ilex verticillata) were a delight, not just in the garden but also in the container-planter at our front-steps entrance, where we added some of their stems to the evergreen arrangement of yews and rhododendron cuttings.

At this time of the year, it’s the red-twig dogwood shrub (Cornus sericea) that adds the welcome color to the garden. However, without its leaves, it is quite evident that someone has not done her job regarding its pruning. As the older branches have aged, they’ve lost their red color and turned brown. So, come next month, on a warm and sunny day, I’ll get my clippers and prune away!

While I’m at it, I’ll also prune the above-mentioned winterberries, especially the male plant, which has grown quite large. The male plant does not produce berries, but its flowers are the “pollinators” that ensure that the female plant will produce lots of red berries.

There is always so much for me to learn! And, a totally new experience was a unique Holiday/New Year’s gift from my dear friend, Anne – a budding paperwhite bulb (Narcissus) in a vase of water. Having only seen them grown in potting mixes in the past, this was a new experience for me. However, the real surprise was that anchoring them in place were fresh cranberries! Yes, I kid you not! Cranberries!

The blooms were lovely and delicate and their fragrance did not bring on the usual allergies. Incredibly, the cranberries are still in good condition and doing their job. And, new shoots are visible on the bulbs. Maybe some more blooms on the way?

Thank you, dear friend Anne! Happy Valentine’s Month!