There are new signs of spring, every day.
The swamp sunflowers have started to colonize in earnest. All these little rosettes have started popping up in a pretty wide arc around the parent plant. I'll need to either pull some of these new plants or transplant them elsewhere in the garden. This is definitely a plant that you have to stay on top of, if you don't want it taking over the whole flowerbed. However, so far I haven't had difficulty removing it or restricting its spread by manually pulling it, unlike the worst spreaders. (We'll see how it goes, this year.)
The newly-planted bulbs are sending up leaves all over the place!
This is a Spanish bluebell, which isn't supposed to bloom until late spring/early summer.
Canna lilies (pictured below), elephant ears, and white butterfly ginger have all begun putting up their first green shoots. (White butterfly ginger seems early, this year. All the other gingers are taking longer to emerge-- but I seem to remember that the latest one didn't come up until around Mother's Day-- in mid-May-- last year.)
The thinner, grassier foliage is Ipheion (spring starflower). The wider, taller blades are Gladiolus italicus.
This is Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola'. Apparently some common names for this plant are "pretty face" and "fool's onion". While I find the nickname amusing, I'm not sure why they'd be known as "fool's onion", because I've read that they actually can be eaten-- either raw or cooked. I've also read that they tend to bloom when/after the leaves fade away, and the 'Queen Fabiola' variety has a fragrance.
These are wildflowers native to the Western U.S. (northern California, for instance), so they may not thrive here in the much more humid Southeast, but I guess they were worth a try. They're planted in a sunny, sandy spot, so they're getting the best shot I can give them.
Most of the types of salvia I grow have already started sprouting new leaves. On the left (below) is Salvia purpurea, which seems to have come through this mild winter with flying colors. On the right is 'Blue Bedder' sage (Salvia farinacea). (I think this will be the third year since I started it from seed, and it has been well worth that effort. If these plants ever die out, I plan to start more. They're reportedly short-lived, but I've been favorably impressed by them.)
Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) has silvery-green signs of new growth, bog sage (Salvia uliginosa) never lost its leaves this winter, and I've shown a photo of forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis). Even the 'Victoria Blue' sage has leaves. (I say "even" because it has been kind of a weakling plant for me, dwindling and never looking particularly happy or healthy.)
The only sage keeping me on pins and needles is 'Pizzazz Purple'. It's still early. I'd just hate to lose that plant, because I loved it so much last year! I plan to take cuttings earlier in the season, this year, and get a few new plants going.
A couple of lunaria (a.k.a. honesty, money plant, silver dollars) I grew from seed (from Nan Ondra's seed giveaway) have survived, even in their tiny little starter pots. I'll find places for them in the garden, soon. They should bloom this year, with luck. This is one of those plants I've wanted to grow for a long time, so I'm curious to see how they'll do... Both plants are of the 'Corfu Blue' variety.
Lots of things are just now starting to leaf out. I've spotted leaves on sky flower (Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'), rose of Sharon, and (pictured below) butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera).
Some of the new Black Diamond crepe myrtles are covered in tiny leaves, while others are a little slower to start.
And the tea olives have really begun to be fragrant, starting last week. It's strange... They've had flowers for a while, but you could only smell them if you deliberately took a close sniff. Then, like a light switching on, their fragrance began to carry. Wonderful!
The camellia is still in airy, delicate-looking bloom, too.
This afternoon, I spent an hour or two dealing with some plant clean-up. There is much more to do, but it's still progress, and the sections I cleaned up look much tidier already-- though it's come to my attention that I'm nowhere near done mulching. The early weeds are taking over!
The biggest visual impact was from the removal of an oddly placed branch of the large loropetalum (in the semi-shade garden). I'd decided a while back that it ought to be removed, but it felt like a big move, because it was a sizable branch. Now it's done, and I think it looks much nicer. Having it out makes that one corner feel more open and "maintained", and I suspect nearby plants will look better for the extra room, come summer. (No photos yet, sorry!)