Six on Saturday: Continuity

Forsythia cuttings I planted years ago have finally grown into a beautiful display this spring

I set a goal and a challenge (decades ago now) to have something blooming in my garden every day of the year. That isn’t very difficult for ten months of each year, but January and February require special planning and planting. Houseplants in bloom don’t count in this game.

There are a few ‘go to’ flowering plants that ensure success each year: snowdrops, Violas, rosemary, hellebores, Siberian squill and daffies. Camellias, Mahonia and Edgeworthia have proven themselves as reliable winter flowering shrubs. I may say that I’m doing this ‘for the pollinators,’ but it is really because I love the flowers so much.

This fruticose lichens fell from a tree. It reminds me of something that would grow under the sea. What an odd and wonderful plant! Lichens is a symbiotic organism that is part algae, part fungus and sometimes also part cyanobacteria. The algae produces food for the organism through photosynthesis. While this is epiphytic and grows in trees, it isn’t’ a parasite.

As much as I love the flowers, I’m still looking for other garden interest each day. I love the continuity of a garden that changes week to week and month to month but is always alive and growing. Even in late January, I want to see something coming along even as other plants lay dormant.

Late February and early March are such a special time because new growth bursts out everywhere. Buds swell on bare branches as the muddy ground erupts with new shoots of returning perennials and emerging bulbs. There is a fresh chance to ‘get the garden right’ this year, even as my heart is warmed to see which plants survived winter and have reawakened.

The Anemone rhizomes I planted last fall have broken ground this week with their first leaves and brightly colored buds. The scarlet buckeye seeds I buried in pots have germinated, and their first copper tinged leaves are reaching for the sun. Snowdrop bulbs I buried in haste on a warm day in mid-January emerged under the mulch of leaves, and finally are blooming.

I’m pruning a little late this year, but the bed below these Rose of Sharon shrubs needs a bit more light this coming summer.

I love the continuity of a garden. I love that it is so easy to see our desires manifest as our visions take form and grow. The linkage between thoughts, actions, and results can be witnessed in increments of time both small and vast, as can the results of our inaction, inattention, and neglect. We can’t escape our garden karma for very long. It is right there for us and the entire world to see.

Now it is mid-March here in coastal Virginia. We’ve had a day or two that felt like early summer this week, and we may have snow here by afternoon. A huge weather front is over us now. I woke up before six this morning to thunder and heavy rain. And the backside of the front is bringing temperatures in the 20s here by this evening. There is a tornado watch just south of us, and the patio is flooded right now. We are caught up in the midst of great changes.

Sporophytes ripen spores above this expanding patch of moss. The soil is alive with new growth.

But the garden continues to unfold, and will benefit from the soaking rain. Warmer days will follow, and we’ll get on with it, just as we do every spring.

For now, I’m not only enjoying late winter flowers, but also the beautiful lichens growing on the trees, expanding mosses, rooting stem cuttings and emerging ferns. The constant in our garden is change, and change is our best mentor through the unfolding years.

Cyrtomium, Japanese holly fern

With appreciation to The Propagator, who hosts Six on Saturday each week.

You might enjoy my new series of posts, Plants I Love That Deer Ignore. Ten groups of plants are featured thus far, and the list will continue to grow.



  1. Lovely photos ❤ It is my aim to have something flower in my garden every day of the year too! But here in sunny South Australia January and February are tying too but for different reasons, too much heat and dry, the opposite side of the coin!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The opposite side of the coin, but an equal challenge. We’re learning there are things that no longer do well here in the summer because of our heat, and because many nights don’t really cool off. It becomes more challenging to choose good plants, but there is no shortage of beautiful plants to grow. Thank you for visiting and for leaving a note, Sarah ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gee, your forsythia seem to be on a similar schedule to ours. They are uncommon here, and there are only tow in our landscapes, with a third waiting for a landscape. I started a few more, but they are not coming along too fast. Anyway, the best was of the few was just about to bloom, with fat buds just beginning to pop open, when someone who came to help us out pruned most of the blooming stems off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Tony. Such ‘help’ we don’t need. You have to have a vision of what the plant will look like in future to prune well. I’m sorry for your little shrubs. I noticed that stems of Forsythia that I brought inside to force often rooted after the flowers finished. For several years I’d cut and force bouquets of Forsythia, and later plant the rooted stems. Of course, now I’ve realized that Forsythia will root as a hardwood cutting directly in the soil, so when my partner helpfully pruned some of ours in early January (yes, covered in buds) I found the trimming, cut them down and struck them. So I have a few stems rooting now, too. Forsythia is a great early spring plant. Sadly, it looks pretty rangy the rest of the time. I understand why people want to keep them compact. But I prefer to let the shrubs grow, and just give some space to a jumble of them. One of the prettiest displays of Forsythia around here is planted on the bank supporting a bridge over a main thoroughfare in Virginia Beach. The slope of the bank is covered in a solid planting of Forsythia. When it finally blooms in late winter, it is stunning. Interesting to know that Forsythia bloom at around the same time in your climate, as in ours. Spooky communication at a distance?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The specimen here was not pruned for the sake pruning it. It was just in the way. No one understands how much work I put into it. It is just vegetation to them. I do not try to keep them compact, so prefer to put them where they can grow as big as they want to, with those tall and arching canes. I prune out canes that are more than two years old, so that they are constantly replacing them with new canes. I suppose that I could coppice them annually after bloom, since the new canes will bloom for the following year.

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