Lengthened daylight hours and shortened shadows are noticeable as February approaches. A winter-weary mood is elevated as light lifts the spirit. Holding onto the winter can bring great joy when we’re reminded, every season has its reason.
February, cold and cruel to some, is hope to others. After all, February touches March, the month of spring. February is a bridge month, crossing over from winter into spring. Instead of rushing forth into a new season, take one more look around at the joy and the life only February can bring.
In my garden, Helen’s Haven, the bluebirds begin building nests, bees seek the nectar of inconspicuous flowers on the maple tree, and the seed selection from a covey of catalogues is finished, allowing me to dream of harvesting summer’s bounty.
As I warmed my car for my morning commute, I noticed the Japanese maple in the vegetable garden as if seeing it for the first time. The lines of the limbs were sinuous, revealed only when bare; the silhouette against the house was intriguing. Come summer, the limbs will be covered with burgundy leaves, becoming a mere mound of its sturdy self. Driving away, a flash of red caught my eye while a male cardinal chirped the air.
The ground is covered with the petals of the Prunus mume, flowering apricot ‘Bridal Vail’, giving a glimpse of what snow-cover looks like should the white stuff come and stay in my Raleigh Garden.
Most of my Mahonia’s are yellowing up with some varieties so scented they attract wildlife from afar. The bees will be delighted soon as another nectar source queues up to serve them on a warm winter’s day.
One look at Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ and you’ll make way for this in your garden. Tens of thousands of blooms give way to ten-thousand more tiny blue flowers lying brightly on the ground. Robins scratch around looking for a snack, not the least bit bothered that I’m walking by.
Daffodils, timed right with certain selections, such as February’s Gold, will brighten your winter heart and home. In other areas of my garden, I can see green pushing through the meadow with a promise of masses of narcissus greeting me as I enter my driveway.
Helleborus ×hybridus, particularly my various Pine Knot Selects, are blooming their fool heads off making me want for more. You can really never have enough. Daphne does her job too by adding scent in the air, while the Iberis (Candytuff) add white along the boxwood edge. And as if in a moment of disbelief, the aconite and iris bloom side by side, making it look like I might know what I’m doing, when it was really just a lucky accident.
Spring will be here soon enough, mating-songs will fill the air, more birds will begin looking for materials to feather their nest. Sprouts will show promise of a summer sizzle. Yes, everything has its season; I shall savor winter, and the gifts she brings and remind myself, without winter, spring would never be.
Helen Yoest is a curious gardener – curious about plants, soil, design, and how others use these to create their gardens at home. She is also curious about what plants do for us today in the here and now, but also about their history and lore. Plants have a colorful past.
As an award winning freelance writer and garden stylist, Helen has traveled the world visiting public and private gardens so she can step into the dream that was once just an imagination. Her work has appeared in Country Gardens, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Carolina Gardener, and many others, including her work as the national gardening expert forAnswers.com. Helen is also the author of Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, & Veggies in Your Garden (2014, St. Lynn’s Press) and Gardening with Confidence, 50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity (2012, GWC Press).
Helen curates garden art, serves on the board of the JC Raulston Arboretum, is past Regional Representative of the Garden Conservancy Open Days tour and opens her garden annually, and is an honorary member of Pi Alpha Xi, the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. Helen lives in Raleigh, N.C., tending to her half-acre wildlife habitat, her husband, and their three beautiful children.