Mid-April Blooms

April had a rather wild mood swing during this past weekend. We transitioned abruptly from cold and surly to sunny warmth. Plants went from shivering in their foliage to galloping forward to catch up with the growing season.

Daffodils. I can’t remember the names of any of my Daffodil varieties. I suppose that makes me rather neglectful. I hope the Daffs don’t resent that I can remember the names of all my Tulip varieties. Could lead to an ugly case of bulb rivalry.

Actually, I would say these mid-April blooms fall into three categories. First there are those, like the Daffodils, that are just at their flowering peak and seem quite at ease about it. Perhaps even a bit cocky.


Although a few of the Daffodil stems never picked themselves up again after the freezes of early April.

Tulipa biflora

Tulipa biflora, an early species tulip, didn’t mind the cold at all. This is a wonderful tulip for naturalizing. It seems to be spreading quite happily in my garden.  Though since it has three flowers to a stem, why isn’t it called Tulipa triflora?

Species Tulips

Tulipa praestans ‘Unicum’ is following right on the heels of T. bifloa. Some are not quite ready to open.


The Hellebores are blooming. This is their second spring in my garden and I look forward to them bulking up.

siberin squill
Siberian Squill. Those are the mottled leaves of Toadshade in the background.

I love the blue Siberian Squill (Scilla sibirica). An incredibly easy small bulb. Spreads with abandon, but disappears politely a few weeks after it blooms.

Grape Hyacinths
Grape Hyacinths

Here is more evidence that my new Lamppost Border gets more sun than the rest of the front garden. There are clumps of Grape Hyancinth (Muscari armeniacum) in the Driveway Border that are not even close to blooming – and yet the ones I planted last fall in the Lamppost Border are strutting their stuff. The light blue ones are ‘Valerie Finnis’. I was relieved to learn this name does not mean “Valerie is finished”.

prairie smoke
Prairie Smoke

The pink flowers of Praire Smoke (Geum triflorum) are just starting to bloom. They will look their best later, when the wispy seedheads make their appearance.

Great merrybells
Great Merrybells

A second category of blooms are like overeager kids rushing ahead of their peers. For example, this clump of Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflorum) looks like it has flowered before it was quite ready. The other Great Merrybells aren’t in such a hurry, but are still sending up stems and growing leaves.

Siberian Bugloss
Siberian Bugloss

Ditto this Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla). Does this little cluster of blue flowers feel like the guest who arrives before the party has begun?

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

The third category are still in bud, not flowering at all. But is it my imagination that these Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica) buds seem to be straining to grow and bloom? This picture shows nicely how the buds go from pink to blue.

Lilac Buds

And the buds of Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), holding in their sweetness until May.

I am out of town on business all this week, then Friday I am dashing back to Chicago to catch a plane. I’ll be flying out to meet Judy and visit friends in the DC area. Looking forward to the trip, but fretting about what I might miss in the garden. I’ll be back in Chicago by the middle of next week.


45 Comments on “Mid-April Blooms”

  1. It’s the time of year when there are almost daily developments in the garden, so I sympathise that you’ll be out of town. But the garden can quietly get on with doing its thing and present you with some lovely surprises when you get home 🙂 PS Your lilac is ahead of mine and I love those little T. bifloa.

  2. One thing about traveling while spring is in full swing is that the garden will have all sorts of surprises for you when you return. Love those tulips. I hope I can remember their names when I go to purchase some next fall. I have lots of sun now that they have removed a big ole tree from the garden.

  3. Agony to leave the garden at this time of the year. I love those little species tulips.
    Valerie Finnis is finished. She died in 2006. She was a great gardener and married another great plantsman, David Scott, at the age of 46. She probably felt she was destined to marry him when, before she even met him, she heard his voice in her garden exclaim: ‘ Goodness, she’ s got Gillenia trifoliata!’ Clearly a match made in heaven.

  4. How interesting: I usually think of your area as being ahead of Madison by about a week or two. But this year we might actually be a bit ahead of you. Our Daffodils and early flowering bulbs are fading and the Hellebore flowers are now forming seeds. I was at the Arboretum yesterday and the Prairie Smoke, Virginia Bluebells, and many other ephemerals are in full bloom. What a stunning time of year! Safe travels!

  5. Oh such treasures – Mertensia, Uvularia…do you find them easy to grow? Your tulip display is fab, they must like you! I find they prefer the heavy soil in my garden and come back more reliable then in the free-draining sandy soil which is a bit strange.

  6. You’ve coined a good new term: “bulb rivalry”. I’ll never get to use it though, because of the dreaded gophers. This is one time to wish for cool weather to put things on hold until your return. Hope you don’t miss to much of the display.

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