February may still seem like Winter, but in the garden, things are beginning to awaken. This is a perfect time of year to see the tender shoots and blossoms, and enjoy the light fragrances.
Botanic name:Edgeworthia chrysantha Common name: paperbush Family: Thymelaeaceae
Growing 4-6’ tall and often as wide, this suckering shrub is already producing small bunches of tubular yellow flowers in groups of up to 40 that, at a distance, look like small sunflowers hanging from a branch. The new, oblong, dark green leaves follow the blooms.The inner bark can be used for making paper, and is, in fact, cultivated to make Japanese banknotes. Flower buds form late in the summer, and appear silvery in winter. Look for this on the uphill side of the winter interest trail.
Botanic name: Hepatica nobilis var. pyrenaica Common name: liverwort Family: Ranunculaceae
Low on the ground, this hardy member of the buttercup family is putting forth blooms on singular hairy stems atop clumps of deep green, tri-lobed leaves. Here you see the white flowering variety, though you can find them in other colors as well. Regardless of the color, pollinators are happily attracted to the blooms.
Botanic name: Oemleriacerasiformis Common name: Osoberry Family: Rosaceae
The sole species in the genus Oemleria grows to a height of 8-20 feet, with a spread of up to 15 feet and is native to the local region. The loosely spaced branches sport elliptical 2-5” light green leaves, and, this time of year, bunches of tiny whitish-green flowers.These quiet flowers will become tiny plum-like fruits much enjoyed by birds and many forest animals. Bears are connoisseurs of the fruit, which contributes to the common Spanish name for bear, ‘oso.’ Humans will find the fruits to be bitter unless fully ripe, and they should only be consumed in small quantities as they contain a small amount of cyanide.
Botanic name: Primula juliae ‘Wanda’ hybrids Common name: English primrose Family: Primulaceae These lovely, low-growing perennials adore shady, damp soil, and so they are quite at home here in the forested garden. It’s easy to see why butterflies are attracted to the delicate, circular, five-lobed purple flowers springing a few inches above clumps of small bright green leaves. You will find these harbingers of spring around the grounds of the Manor House, and sporadically along the garden trails.
This spreading, dioecious evergreen shrub with leathery oblong leaves hails from China, and can reach about three feet high. While these leaves resemble laurel leaves, they are more delicate. This time of year the shrub lightly scents the garden with its creamy green flowers in pendant racemes, earlier than its relative, the pink flowering currant. If there are both male and female plants present, dark purple berries result later in the summer, which are much enjoyed by local birds.