Spring has arrived despite the arrival of Winter
– Zum deutschen Text – You notice every change in weather: every ray of sunshine that presents itself, the patter of rain, the drumming of hail. Even when in summer the thermometer rises to over 40 degrees C. the natural daylight makes for a wonderful working environment. Berlin seems to have been lucky: the snow did not stay, the frost has been moderate, so no damage occurred to the flowers. And flowers there are.
With shock I have been watching fat white snowflakes silently land on our greenhouse roof these past few days. I love this unusual life in greenhouses. The office and my lecture room are in one of the old, renovated glasshouses. Nowadays equipped with triple glazing, central heating and lovely oak floorboards. You are aware of every change in weather, be it the splatter of rain, the drumming of hail, or a smallest ray of sunshine. It is a wonderful working environment. Berlin has been lucky: the snow did not stay and the frost has been moderate so that the flowers were unaffected.
The transition from winter to early spring
I am always anxious when the temperature drops at this time of year. The magical courageous trees and shrubs that have been flowering non-stop since well before Christmas are now reaching their crescendo. The Cherrytree Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ is a cloud of white snowflakes, Jasminum nudiflorum a splash of yellow, the Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and Lonicera purpusii a delightful cloud of fragrance. And whilst Hamamelis and the snowdrops are slowly nearing the end, the first early shrubs are gingerly showing their desire to open up their flowers. As soon as this cold spell has moved on, Magnolia stellata flowers will shed their soft furry sepals to allow the white petals spread their delicate scent in the evening air. Corylopsis pauciflora is equally keen to get on with the new season and tentatively has opened its first little bell-shaped blossoms and the eagerly awaited Cornelian Cherry has arrived with its refreshing yellow little flowers. Also the unspectacular but heavenly scented flowers of Sarococca are accompanying us already.
The early bulbs
What that cheered me up most during my walkabout yesterday were the numerous small bulbs – the early heroes. In the park on my way to the academy thousands of crocuses clothe the lawn and also in our herbaceous border there are numerous crocuses providing an important early feeding station for hungry bees. In amongst the protective carpet of beechleaves in our bee garden the delightful little pink flowers of Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ are spreading their humble cheer. The subtle blue shades of Anemone nemorosa are intensifying as these small beauties are on the verge of lifting their blue flowerheads.
Many grumble that this winter has so far not been a proper winter, that the temperatures were far too mild so that pests and diseases did not get killed off. I am delighted by this winter. The early arrival of the first signs of spring, the long season of the winterflowering heroes. Thanks to this gentle season, we have time to enjoy and savour each of these courageous plants and bees have been able to forage at a time where they often have to rely on their reserves.