Sometimes I forget how much of my time is not taken up by things in bottles but by plants. When we first moved here in June of 2015 we were disorganized and preoccupied by schools, and skating teams, and all the other things that come along with moving when you have a family to settle into place.
Then there was the house. This house is a Connecticut house, which means that it has been built onto at different dates, and sits in the middle of a very large garden. At last count I had ten garden beds and have now added another very large space for planting. What was I thinking?
I had been thinking that the best way to approach a place as large as this was to wait and see. So I did for a little over a year. In the meantime, we decided that we really needed were tree surgeons. So we hired a lot of tree surgeons and after a day the property is clearer and barer than when we moved in, but diseased trees and dead branches are gone. You can see the pond at the bottom of the lawn now.
This is the point at which I realize that there are no winter flowers on the property. That’s an oversight. I could with this amount of space put all sorts of things in, but have not because of concerns over how much those tree surgeons would cost. So I did not bother to plant my old friends the aconites. They really are something.
I’ve known about the “February Buttercup” since my childhood and I used to pass an old house in Maplewood New Jersey that had an entire lawn full of aconites. You could rely on them to be in bloom the week after Valentine’s Day. They are individually no bigger than my thumb, and they are the same
unapologetic shade of yellow as buttercups, plus which they only seem to bloom one to stem, the stems aren’t long but they do spread like a blanket of butter across a lawn. I could have put them in under the old silver maple at the end of the garden next to the pond. Naturally I didn’t. Instead lots of crocus went in, but now I second guess myself.
Here is the thing about aconites. They are incredibly hardy and reliable. You don’t have to do anything to them, they just come up on their own and frosts and cold don’t seem to bother them at all. Now I wish I had remembered them because it will be a long time until the end of February and in the meanwhile I will have to rely for flowers on hyacinths and crocus in pots. They’re not even very expensive. One seller on Etsy was advertising 100 bulbs for as little as thirty five dollars. I could have made quite a splash with that.
So my advice is that if you have a bare patch under a tree that leafs out in summer but has some sun in winter, try aconites. They do cheer a winter up.