I can’t help it. Every morning I walk through the garden to check for signs of life. It’s thrilling to see winter aconites with their bright yellow blossoms emerge through the mulch.
We tend to think of crocus as the first bulbs, but there are plenty of other small bulbs that also emerge early to give us a taste of color before the blowsy daffodils and tulips come along. So, keep your eyes open for these bulbs.
Winter aconites and snowdrops start the display in February and March and there’s nothing quite like the fresh green and white of snowdrops when it’s still quite cold to set the gardening spirits soaring. Smaller bulbs like dwarf iris, hardy cyclamen, grape hyacinths and chionodoxa give the bulb display added color from March through June. Botanical tulips, smaller and shorter than the traditional Darwin hybrids, come up extra early, as well. Their great advantage is that they do not exhaust themselves after one or two years as the hybrid tulips tend to do.
When adding bulbs to your display, keep in mind that they need plenty of sun and well-drained soil in order to produce healthy blooms. Make an effort to place bulbs in spots where the dying foliage is hidden by emerging perennials or newly planted annuals. If the foliage is visible, it’s very hard to keep from yanking the ugly leaves, and they need to stay on to replenish the bulb. Cut out only the spent flower stalk.
And a recipe to help you get through the cold and keep the garden in mind:
Creamy cauliflower potato carrot soup
(make it fun with leeks, broccoli, parsnips, whatever you have on hand)
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 head of cauliflower, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 32 ounces vegetable broth
- 1 c. coconut milk
- 1 t. salt
- Pepper to taste
Film a large pan with olive oil. Over medium heat, saute garlic and onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, potatoes and salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower and potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and carefully pour the mixture into a blender, adding some of the coconut milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more milk until you achieve the desired consistency. Garnish with chopped scallions, crumbled crisp bacon or a dollop of plain yogurt.