There is not much actual outdoor gardening that can be done in March. A quick walk about the garden on a rare warm day when the sun peeks through, teasing us with what’s to come is about all there is. I pick up the pieces of Styrofoam cups and newspaper that aimless winter winds have blown into the garden, and peer down into the soil seeking signs of life. If you’ve planted snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), you may see them peeking through the snow by mid-March, or even earlier, and the sight is thrilling. Usually, raw winds quickly send me scurrying back indoors.
One of my favorite of all perennials is the hellebore. Hellebores come up so early (mid-March), are so tough, and so beautiful that you have to love them, though I always say that any plant with the words “hell” and “bore” in its name has a public relations problem. Helleborus niger, the Christmas rose, is shown here. After a night of sub-freezing temperatures, its leaves and buds are pristine–it must have anti-freeze in its stems! In my garden, hellebores and pulmonarias, another early blooming perennial, are welcome companions to the bulbs.