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First Blooms: GBBD, April 2016

April 16, 2016

crocuses 2016Last year, someone posted a list from comedian Jeff Foxworthy of “how you know you’re in New England.” One of my favorite items on the list was “You have all four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.” Although I don’t think this is so true of southern New England, which usually has a lovely spring, it is a comically accurate description of northern New England, where April is more often than not “still winter.” Warm weather at the end of March this year almost lulled us into thinking winter was over; but then the first week of April brought us record-breaking cold and a reminder that it was “still winter.”

In the past week, warm temperatures have returned. Yesterday I drove out to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens for opening day of the gardens and for the first class of my Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, an orientation for this year’s new enrollees. As I drove north along the Maine coast, I noticed “road work” signs and road crews setting up to work every few miles. The Maine Department of Transportation seemed to be officially declaring that winter was over and that road construction season has begun!

The early spring plants in my garden seem to concur. The crocuses were the first to bloom and have been unfazed by cold overnight temperatures. The hyacinths, which already had well-developed buds when the extreme cold hit, did not fare as well. But they have been bravely trying to bloom, even after having their necks broken by the cold. Only one late bloomer escaped the cold and is promising an upright bloom.

broken neck hyacinth hyacinth bud upright
In the serenity garden, the first hellebores have begun to bloom. first hellebores

And everywhere in the garden, new growth is appearing and promising many more blooms in the weeks to come.

Since I spent bloom day at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, with its more temperate coastal climate and more advanced season, let me share some of the glorious first blooms on display there:

dwarf iris CMBG dwarf irises,
glory of the snow, Glory of the Snow CMBG
hellebores CMBG hellebores galore,

and drifts of cheerful daffodils.

daffodils CMBG

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see the rich array of April blooms from gardens around the world.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2016 9:44 am

    Jean, I hope you’ve had your last cold snap! All of your blooms are beautiful _ even the struggling hyacinth. But the hellebores really caught my eye. They are spectacular. Are they really that gorgeous pink burgundy or is it the photography? What variety are they? Thanks. K

    • April 17, 2016 9:23 pm

      Kathy, It’s always hard to tell whether the color looks the same on your computer as it does on mine, but it looks like the true color to me. I have two different varieties planted, the Brandywine series and the Sunshine strain, and I’m no longer sure which is which — but I think this is the Brandywine series.

      • April 19, 2016 8:55 am

        Thanks Jean! I have a pale pink variety – no idea what it is – that turns green as it ages. I didn’t realize there were different strains of hellebores so I appreciate your answer as well as all the beautiful photos on your blog. I’ll start looking for both strains. Even though we are in two different USDA zones, I learn a lot from you. Keep writing! Kathy

  2. April 17, 2016 3:25 pm

    so much enjoy celebrating spring thru your eyes.

    • April 18, 2016 8:52 pm

      Diana, No matter how many springs we experience, the renewal of life never ceases to be magical.

  3. debsgarden permalink
    April 17, 2016 11:09 pm

    Hooray for spring! I am glad your winter is over and beautiful blooms are appearing as well as road construction signs. I am afraid road construction is a year-round affair here.

    • April 18, 2016 8:55 pm

      Deb, Both the flowers and the construction signs are a bit earlier than usual this year. Because road construction and repair is compressed into relatively few months here, it seems as though you can’t go anywhere at this time of year without running into construction delays.

  4. April 18, 2016 8:20 am

    One of the great things about reading botanical blogs is that thanks to bloggers like you, I can follow the seasons working in other latitudes and longitudes. When you are enjoying the first blooms, here in the Mediterranean many trees are already covered with new leaves!

    • April 18, 2016 8:56 pm

      Lula, I agree that this is one of the delights — there are always flowers in bloom somewhere!

  5. April 18, 2016 5:59 pm

    Ha! I wonder what Foxworthy’s characterization of Southern California’s seasons would be? Perhaps: summer prelude, summer, introduction to hell’s fire, and purgatory. As to road construction, that’s definitely a year-round phenomenon here.

    I’m glad your winter relapse didn’t take out all of your pretty spring blooms. They do emphasize how different our seasons are, though, especially this time of year. Most of our bulb blooms seem but distant memories.

    • April 18, 2016 8:59 pm

      Kris, Sunil has described my gardening season as “gardening in the fast lane” because the season is so compressed here. No slow unfolding of spring for us; instead, we wait and wait and then everything explodes into life at once. At this time of year, I sometimes walk around my garden twice in a day to see what has come up in the past few hours!

  6. April 19, 2016 11:23 pm

    Wonderful drifts of daffodils, makes me think of Wordsworth.

    • April 20, 2016 8:25 pm

      Jason, I found those daffodils by the stone bench along a quiet woodland path especially lovely.

  7. April 22, 2016 3:51 pm

    Hello Jean, that quote is very funny but I hope it’s not true. Those are some lovely flower pictures and despite being behind us in the seasons at the moment, I can almost hear the revving of the engine and see you appear in my rear-view mirror as your “almost winter” changes fully to “Road Construction”.

    • April 25, 2016 10:12 pm

      Sunil, Just when I thought winter was truly behind us, we have snow in the forecast for tomorrow morning! 😐 (Just a coating of wet snow that won’t faze the plants and is a reminder to the humans not to get ahead of ourselves.)

  8. May 6, 2016 4:52 pm


  9. May 18, 2016 5:16 pm

    Hi Jean,
    You have a lot of wonderful flowers on your blog. Especially the hellebores galore it looks so wonderful. Actually all of those are really indeed beautiful. I’m enjoying reading your blog. Oh by the way Jean I have a blog too that is all about home gardening, If you want to know more about gardening you can visit our site at

    Thank you!

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