We’re blooming inside and out in February here in the hollow thanks to Alder (Alnus), Amaryllis and Snowdrops (Galanthus).
Inside, the late ‘Christmas Gift’ Amaryllis, a holiday present from a friend, has graced our table for a month or so. Cleverly staked with willow twigs that rooted and leafed out in a tender spring green, this magnificent bulb produces one of the most beautiful of the Hippeastrum we’ve ever seen.
The large pure white flowers and creamy buds remind us of an Easter Lily. Once it began flowering, it’s been kept dry and thrives in our sunniest south window. Although I generally compost the old ones and start new each winter season, I might go to the trouble of trying to keep this one going by fertilizing its green leaves all summer and letting it go dormant in a dark closet in the fall.
The black alder (Alnus glutinosa) is one of the outside earliest blooms, our harbinger of spring, dangling its golden catkins powdery with pollen to fertilize tiny purple female buds, a perfect example of a monoecious plant that produces imperfect male and female flowers on the same plant. Although native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa, the alder is long naturalized in the United States often occurs along our little waterways, as it does here by our creek. There are striking cultivars like ‘Lancianata’ and ‘Aurea’ for the collector who has a wet spot to display them.
The genus Galanthus has many varieties, from the giant snowdrop (G. elwesii) to the double, G. nivalis Flore Pleno. It loves to be transplanted in bloom, in clusters and takes a moister site than most bulbs. They are lovely poking their heads above the snow and make charming bud vases.