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The Thrill & Optimism of Spring!

Hellebores ho! And they will bloom for months. Lots of surprises await a wanderer through the forests and gardens in spring...

Despite their delicate pastel colours, these shoots of Variegated Solomon Seal (Polygonatum odoratum) look like they could penetrate concrete! Seriously, after the long winter's anticipation, it's thrilling to see plants bursting out of the ground with such enthusiasm and urgency.

It's likely the sentiment is mine as observer, but seasonal plants in temperate climates have only a short window in which to complete their life cycle and they do seem to rush through it. Perhaps that is why it is especially exciting to see spring bulbs emerge; they quickly grow to full size, bloom stunningly, develop and disperse seed, and then disappear back into the ground.

Chionodoxa, or Glory of the Snow, is really the herald of spring in NIKIAN Gardens. It is sowing itself around and, pink, blue, or white, it gets to stay almost everywhere it wants! (Note: easily removed.)

To spread the joy, we will be offering pots of mixed spring bulbs: Glory of the Snow, (Chionodoxa forbesii), Snake's head fritillary, (Fritillaria meleagris), Woodland tulip (Tulipa sylvestris), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), and Grape hyacinth (Muscari sp.). These will be available for sale at the Atlantic Rare & Unusual Plant Sale (Sunday May 22, 1-4pm, Annapolis Royal Farmers Market) and at the NIKIAN Gardens nursery through this website.

Perhaps it's the long winter of sensory deprivation (looking at dried grasses and stems in vases), but I'm always fascinated by emerging plants in spring. They energize me and give me such hope for a healthy planet in the future. Here are some of my favourites:

Ramps, or Wild leeks (Allium trococcum) is a native onion that grows in damp, open forests. It is such a delicacy that it has been over-harvested in the wild and is now endangered in many areas. The best way to enjoy this treat is to grow your own. My start (from a friend who had been growing it for years) has now expanded into a patch large enough to offer a few pots for sale this spring. It blooms and disappears by mid summer.

French sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is super for an early spring tonic. A blast of green in the form of Sorrel Soup!!

Saute onion (1 medium, chopped) in butter (3 T.), stir in flour (1 T.) & sorrel leaves (2 C. finely chopped) until wilted. Add stock (3 C.); simmer 3 min. Beat 2 egg yolks with 1 C. milk/cream, slowly add 2 C. hot soup to egg mixture, stirring constantly, then stir back into soup pot and reheat gently. Season with salt, pepper & tabasco, if desired. Delicious with toasts.

Enjoy the taste of spring!

Perennial French sorrel is easy to grow in most garden beds; full sun. It later is plagued by flea beetles and other munchers. Be there first!

New seedlings are for sale this year.

Green (edible) and red rhubarb (Rheum rhabar-barum & Rheum palmatum) are beautiful & early.

The red rhubarb is too beautiful to eat (not really "edible") with massive ruby leaves. It stretches 6 feet tall with thick red stems topped with a thousands of pink flowers a

Another very tall blooming, super hardy and edible perennial is lovage (Levisticum officinale) which is related to celery. Its leaves have a flavour similar to celery, and its roots are also edible (think celeriac) and its seeds are spicy like celery seed. What's not to love about such a great, versatile, permaculture plant?!?

Still, as much as such edible and beautiful early spring plants delight the palate, all of spring growth (except perhaps some "weeds") delights the soul, and nothing more than the lovely, delicate, colourful Fumewort (Corydalis sp.). HAPPY SPRING!

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