The point of putting evergreens around, this time of year, is to remind us of spring to come: that the snow and dark may put us into temporary dormancy, but life will renew itself.
In more modern times, since we’ve had heated houses, greenhouses, and fast transportation, we’ve dreamed up more elaborate ways of showing ourselves that there is hope of more expansive days to come: if we have enough money, we can pretty much have any flower we want, in any season.
But hothouse flowers, while lush and beautiful, don’t give me the refreshment I get from those simple plants whose ancestors have been providing that little adrenaline rush to people for millenia.
A lot of those flowers that last through snowy weather are bulbs, so of course I’m going to write about them. But the violets at the top of the page not only lasted through snow, but went on to bloom for weeks more (I’m pretty sure they’re a sport of an old variety I dug up at a friend’s house). And one of those durable bulbs I was so hopeful about, Fritillaria persica, looked as if it was doing well in the snow
but future events showed differently. I was so disappointed. I have never gotten Fritillaria persica to flower yet.
On the other hand, some bulbs are designed for snow, as this daffodil (an anonymous daffodil from a big cheap bag at my hardward store, probably the ubiquitous ‘Dutch Master’).
While this modern daffodil is bigger than its ancestors, they share the deep tube that keeps its sexual parts safe and sheltered – so, should a pollinator be abroad on a snowy day, it will find shelter. You can see that even though this daffodil is tattered by weather, once the pollination has been carried out, the seeds can still develop in their cozy (relatively) little incubator-trumpet.
These small Tulipa turkestanica are another plant that was made to take the snow. They come from the high mountain passes of the Turkestan mountains, in Central Asia. I suspect, as in my own mountains, they get sudden dumps of spring snow.
One of the big problems with those spring frosts and snows is that they kill fruit tree flowers at a crucial time (fruit trees don’t have those nice protected pollinating spots that daffodils do; too bad). This flowering plum (which gives excellent, red, cherry-size plums in season) looks happy here. But we had snow after this picture was taken, and all our fruit was really expensive, because there wasn’t much of it.
You can always count on crocus, though, which originated in the same high mountains as Tulipa turkestanica.
Like the ‘Gypsy Girl’ crocus, this iris x histrioides ‘Katherine Hodgkins’ might be unrecognizable to its ancestors, but it still keeps its resilience to snow.
I’d be curious to know of other people’s favorite plants that flower in snow.