A Gold, Gold, Winter

Aconites from The DailyMail.com

Aconites from The DailyMail.com

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.

Aconites can spread pretty far

Aconites can spread pretty far

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

Aconites mingling with their neighbors the snowdrops

Aconites mingling with their neighbors the snowdrops

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.


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6 thoughts on “A Gold, Gold, Winter

  1. Dear Blacknall Allen-
    Good for you to be thinking about gardening this week! Aconites sound perfectly wonderful. I have maples that pull all moisture from the soil, making the ground covers that I plant under them die slow deaths (except for pachysandra and ivy, which will always be with us). But I must confess that I don’t like yellow flowers…I know I should lose this prejudice. We certainly get plenty of buttercups so perhaps the aconites would make those look intentional. They look perfectly lovely with the snowdrops. I will reflect on your advice!

    1. Perhaps the best way to grow them is with snowdrops-I think I shall next time.

      Your maples drink up everything? This reminds me of my four big greedy oaks who take everything out of the soil around them and then drop branches on the lawn. This must be their way of “giving back”. Possibly the other ground cover in such situations as your maples and my oaks is lily of the valley? They’re tough.

  2. “My old friends the aconites”– they sound beautiful. I’m not familiar with them, maybe you can plant them next year. Sounds wise to do the hard stuff first and remove the deadwood by a timely hire of tree surgeons. Spring makes the trees go wild and you’ve knocked out a hard task already.

    Very nice to see down to a pond, that’s a lovely landscape. The crocus you planted will be pretty, maybe exceptional, the purple ones are so sweet. Maybe some yellow crocus will give a nod to the aconites until you get them planted for that sea of yellow butter. Don’t stress out, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Bright yellow is an upbeat color in gray winter.

    Your February buttercups (nice name), “incredibly hardy and reliable” (gotta love it) will be something to look forward to planting, is it really too late? maybe give it a shot, why not?

    1. Who knows I may be able to do them next year. This year the ground is too frozen for planting, but I will definitely try them next year, as you say Rome was not built in a day.

      In any case Happy 2017!

    1. Hi Portia,
      Would aconites not do in Australia? I’m so used to envying you all for what you can grow (and I can’t) that I have trouble imagining something not doing well in your part of the world. If snowdrops come up then aconites would too. Happy New Year !

      PS. Am actively considering planting “Wise Portia” in my rose cutting garden 🙂

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