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Bloom of the Week, April 5th-11th, 2015

Aside from the tiny crocuses and snowdrops dotting the ground, the landscape in Eastern Massachusetts is more or less devoid of color again this week. One exception to the lack of color are the late Winter/Spring-blooming witch hazel varieties, which we have selected as our "bloom of the week."

Hybrid witch hazel ( Hamamelis x intermedia ) in full bloom in Somerville, MA this week.

Hybrid witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) in full bloom in Somerville, MA this week.

The predominant variety we see planted in our area is Hamamelis x intermedia, known as "hybrid witch hazel." This deciduous shrub can grow up to 15 feet in size and comes in several different cultivars. During the growing season it has simple egg-shaped leaves, turning a soft golden yellow during late Fall. The shrub is a cross between Asian Hamamelis species, so unfortunately it is not a native. That being said, it adds great visual interest this time of year and makes a beautiful, robust addition to a large foundation planting or woodland edge.

Close-up of hybrid witch hazel in bloom.

Close-up of hybrid witch hazel in bloom.

There is also a late Winter/Spring-blooming witch hazel variety available, Hamamelis vernalis, that is native to the Ozark region of North America, which can serve as an American (though not exactly native to our area) substitute. Our truly "native" witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is a late Fall bloomer and is a spectacular plant that will likely be a candidate for "bloom of the week" later this season.

Hybrid witch hazel provides striking late-Winter/early-Spring color to an otherwise drab landscape.

Hybrid witch hazel provides striking late-Winter/early-Spring color to an otherwise drab landscape.

If you look carefully you will notice the crowns of many perennials starting to emerge from the soil, as well as buds forming on some of the deciduous trees and shrubs. The snow is pretty much all gone now and the lawns are starting to turn green. Now is an ideal time to get out and take care of winter damaged plants and do some maintenance on the lawn and garden. Please contact us you have any questions about how to get your yard back into shape after this winter. 

Bloom(s) of the Week, March 30-April 4th, 2015

Throughout the season we are going to add posts showcasing plants that are currently in bloom or fruiting. The posts are intended to pay homage to a star performer during that week and to bring recognition to old favorites and new species alike.

After a rugged winter and a delayed spring warm-up, everything is behind schedule here in Eastern Massachusetts. Fortunately, signs of life have started to appear-- songbirds are out and about, some of the tree buds are starting to show, and grass (where it isn't still buried in snow!) is greening up. The surest sign of Spring, however, are the tiny minor bulbs that rise miraculously from the barren ground, adding small splashes of color to an otherwise drab landscape.

Common snowdrop bringing some life back to the garden. 

Common snowdrop bringing some life back to the garden. 

This week we are honoring those minor bulbs-- Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and Spring crocus (Crocus vernus) that are the first bloomers of the season. Typically these little guys come out in early to mid-March around these parts, but they just started showing earlier this week. Although they are not native species, these plants serve an important ecological service by providing the first source of nectar to bees and other pollinators emerging from their winter slumber.

Spring crocus greeting the sun.

Spring crocus greeting the sun.

Spring crocus come in many colors.

Spring crocus come in many colors.

These optimistic little flowers are great for transitioning your garden from winter to spring, as they already start fading away by the time many of the other spring flowers emerge. Try planting some minor bulbs in the fall to help bring your garden out of the winter doldrums early next season and give the pollinators a needed boost at the same time.

Snowdrops out at last. Earlier this season there was 6 feet of snow covering this particular garden bed.

Snowdrops out at last. Earlier this season there was 6 feet of snow covering this particular garden bed.

Waiting for the sun.

Waiting for the sun.

Crocus happy to provide a meal of nectar to visiting pollinators.

Crocus happy to provide a meal of nectar to visiting pollinators.

Have a particular plant you would like us to feature? Have questions or comments? Make sure to post to the comments section of the blog or contact us directly.