Monday, February 10

Bulbs are seeing the light.

My Wordless Wednesday post featured the hellebores in our garden that are now beginning to flower. Strange how the mind plays tricks - we seem to always convince ourselves that things are a lot earlier or later than in previous years. This is where a collection of photographs come into it's own. I took last week's Wordless Wednesday photos on Sunday 2 February. Last year I took the following photos on 3 February.
If anything I'd say that last year they were a little ahead and the hellebore nigers (I always wonder whether that should really be hellebores niger?) that this year are still only in bud were actually in full flower.

The photo below is the stage the snowdrops were at this year on 2 February.
Below is a photo taken last year on 3 February.
Not much difference here but again I'd say last year they were very slightly ahead - some flower buds were just beginning to turn down in the second photo.

Other bulbs making progress are iris Katherine Hodgkins ...
... and various tulips and narcissi.
Last year on 6 February I took the following photos
The daffodils had flower buds forming and our first crocus was making an appearance - no crocuses yet this year!

This year temperatures have been milder than they were last year but the bulbs don't appear to have changed their habits to reflect this. This made me wonder whether bulbs responded to better levels of daylight but according to Martyn's weather data we have had just about the same amount of solar energy this year as last.

So I wonder just what does trigger bulbs into growth - is it linked to the conditions at the time of flowering, were the bulbs waiting for a cold period to wake them up, do they respond to the increasing number of daylight hours, is it connected to something earlier in the plant life cycle when the bulbs are bulking up? Nature always keeps us guessing doesn't it? (I bet Roger will have an answer!)


34 comments:

  1. Perhaps they're just hiding from the rain. My snowdrops have eventually flowered but no other bulbs are blooming here yet.

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    1. I think we are just so eager to see the spring flowers, Jo

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  2. Lovely to see the comparisons. The iris are beautiful, almost too exotic for such a dull time of year. I went for a wander around the allotment site this morning and saw daffodils and snowdrops. Things are starting to stir.

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    1. Neither Martyn nor I can resist taking photos of that iris, CJ. The ones in the front garden are always ahead of the ones round the back.

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  3. A beautiful reminder that spring will return...someday.

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    1. Let's hope it's sooner rather than later tpals.

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  4. I'd agree that last year was slightly ahead. I am starting to think about the bloomers post for the 15th, looking back at last year hellebores and daffodils were further advanced. I also had crocuses, none this year.

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    1. The crocuses do seem a bit reluctant this year, Jessica

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  5. We are definitely ahead for Snowdrops and Crocus this year - they will feature in this month's GBBD where as they weren't out until March last year - everything else is just as I would be expecting. Mind you, I had daffs flowering in June last year due to the late start. I don't have enough of an archive of pictures to do some serious comparisons yet.

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    1. I too seem to remember the daffodils being really late last year, Angie.

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  6. I think I remember everything as late last year & snow everywhere. I do want some hellebores for next year though.

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    1. Our bulbs flowered at the right time, Jo the cold didn't seem to hold them back it was the early spring blossom that was late. Also things like the hellebores seemed to keep flowering for ages presumably because they like it cooler.

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  7. I think it has to do with conditions in the ground....the amount of water and the temperature.
    Your blue iris is amazing. I love blue flowers. ♥

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  8. In my memory last year growth was much later, because we had snow and ice and now we have a mild winter, but when I see pictures of last year, there is not much difference and then the crocuses, last year I had hundreds, until now only I saw only 6, I was already worried that they were eaten by voles or so. May be we must be more patient. I love the Iris reticulata but in one or another way they always disappear in the garden.

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    1. Our memories do play tricks Janneke.

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  9. It is odd how we can trick ourselves....and I'm amazed your Iris are out...mine have hardly popped out of the ground.
    Having read this I did go back over my blog and here we do seem much earlier with most things. Lovely to see signs of spring.xxx

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    1. That particular iris is a very early variety, Snowbird. We first saw it in the winter garden at Dunham Massey. So when did you have the first snowdrops/hellebores last year.

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  10. It is quite intriguing that bulbs are later and there is no obvious reason why they should be.
    Last year I was surprised to see on a French site that in a garden where some plants had bloomed months before they had in our Canadian garden, a catalpa tree had bloomed the very same week in both places. Obviously very different things can trigger blooming.

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    1. To be honest Alain there seems very little in it between this year and last.

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  11. Last year everything was quite early in my garden late January, then the cold weather slowed everything down. And it continued to be late right into July thanks to the very late spring. My Helleborus hybridus are further this year compared to last, but just like yours – my only Helleborus niger is later than last year. Not sure why! No crocuses in flower yet, but I didn’t have that last February either.

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    1. That's what happened last year for us too Helene. I think something is nibbling the niger buds - I think that happened last year too.

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  12. Funny how the camera can completely confound what you are sure you remember of previous years isn't it! Looking back I think that the early Spring was earlier if that makes sense, last year, but then everything got stalled thanks to that cold snap, so will be interesting to see how this year pans out. I've certainly noticed the crocuses being slower off the mark this year, but perhaps we feel it is earlier because the splashes of colour are so welcome with all this dreary weather.

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    1. You're right Janet we had a sort of lull didn't we which meant spring proper was very late. I wonder whether the blossom waits until it 'thinks' the conditions are right for pollinators to sort of synchronise with them.

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  13. The trouble with bulbs is that we wait expectantly for signs of spring for so many weeks then the show is over relatively quickly and we have to put up with weeks of the leaves making the garden look untidy! btw, Sue, we've just studied Hellebores at college and been told that the H. x hybridus are much stronger at fending off pests whereas H. niger is very slug prone. I'm already on the alert for baby slugs when I'm doing any soil work in the garden!

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    1. They do provide a beautiful show whilst they are flowering though Caro, Thanks for confirmation about the hellebores. It's strange a one particular hellebore always starts to flower well before the others.

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  14. Spring is on the way! Beautiful flowers! ;)

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    1. A bit longer to wait though Malar

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  15. I love the blue flowers, so cool! the white and yellow stripe is so beautiful!

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    1. It is Endah especially round the front of the house where it is right up by the path.

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  16. The one thing I have learnt from writing my blog is that nothing is ever as bad as it seems at the time...I have some bulbs to post about too...pour snowdrops are far ahead fo your though...Will get it sorted for the weekend so you can see.

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    1. My sister's snowdrops are fully out too. Maybe different varieties flower at different times. Not sure what variety ours are.

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  17. Love your snowdrops Sue. They are strong and healthy, mine are under the snow yet. Spring is over the corner!

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    1. There's still time for ours to be hidden under snow Nadezda

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