On days like today, as the temperature and wind chill remain at unfriendly levels, it's easy to drift into thoughts of a new growing season. The anticipation is especially pronounced this year, as I eagerly await the season's first bloom. In years past, the witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) along the back fence has been the harbinger of warm weather. It is promising once again to grace us with its spidery, rusty yellow blooms near the end of February. This week (pictured above), its flower buds hang like small fruit along the shrub's grey branches.
But this year, planted at the witch hazel's feet are two hellebores which promise to bring even earlier color to the garden. I can't wait to see who wins the race to first bloom.