We don't get much snow in L.A. But this morning I stepped out my door and there were snowflakes in my front yard!
The amazing thing about spring flowers is how suddenly they appear. It seems like nothing was blooming a week ago, and now each morning there's something new.
Earlier, the narcissus surprised me. This morning, it was the Snowflakes.
Leucojum vernum are called Spring Snowflakes. They are native to Southern Europe, and so they enjoy the Mediterranean climate of Southern California. They also thrive in the warmer parts of the U.S. South.
Although they are also charming, and have white flowers touched with green, they should not be confused with Snowdrops, or members of the Galanthus genus, which are native to northern Europe.
Snowdrops have an odd-shaped little flower. Snowflakes have a modest bell-shaped flower, pinked on the edges and marked with spots of green. They are said to have a faint fragrance - I haven't detected it in mine, but perhaps I should get my nose down closer to them.
If you're interested in growing unusual spring bulbs, or if you're interested in gardening in general, you might enjoy a book called "The Little Bulbs" by the late Elizabeth Lawrence.
Lawrence gardened in North Carolina, first in Chapel Hill and then in Charlotte. She wrote several books and articles about gardening, and was a friend an correspondent of other noted gardeners and garden writers. Her Charlotte garden, is open to the public for touring. While you're at it, check out a neighboring garden, Wing Haven, created by Elizabeth Clarkson. The Wing Haven Foundation supports the preservation of both gardens.
"The Little Bulbs" focuses on early spring flowers, the modest, non-showy things that lift a tender leaf and subtle blossom through the crust of snow or frost, beneath the skirts of shrubs or in the shade of trees. Lawrence leaves the big-flowered daffodils and showy tulips for other volumes; here she tells us about small things, like crocuses, winter-blooming aconites, dwarf spring iris or cyclamen. She writes about the plants unimproved by the hybridizers and marketers and corporate flower industry - the wild flowers and species bulbs. She describes how these things bloom in her North Carolina garden, and tells us how to introduce them into our gardens.
"The Little Bulbs" is subtitled "A Tale of Two Gardens," because it is also an account of Lawrence's correspondence with a Cincinnati gardener, Carl Krippendorf. Lawrence had a small urban garden, while Krippendorf planted a huge estate. Nevertheless, they were friends, and, as Lawrence describes it,
as soon as spring is the the air, [we] begin an antiphonal chorus, like two frogs in neighboring ponds: What have you in bloom, I ask, and he answers from Ohio that there are hellebores in the woods, and crocuses and snowdrops and winter aconite. Then I tell him that in North Carolina the early daffodils are out but that the aconites are gone and the crocuses past their best.
I know some readers of this blog live in North Carolina, or perhaps in Mr. Krippendorf's Ohio. If you don't already know Elizabeth Lawrence's books, I urge you to check them out - whether you're a gardener or just like to look at flowers, you will enjoy learning about these lovely flowers.
Mr. Krippendorf's garden, Lob's Wood, is now a nature preserve known as Rowe Woods, in Cincinnati.