Thanks to a very mild winter, with a very thin snow cover, my Erica carnea (heath) is blooming.
Just this morning Facebook showed me a photo I posted 5 years ago of the front of my mailbox peeking out of a snowbank. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the norm for my southwestern NH garden, but in the seventeen years since I planted the Erica, it is always blooming the moment the snow melts away from it, sometime in March or April.
As I live in a place where the winters are so long, it has been important for me to have “winter flowers,” as they are known in England, which around here bloom in very early spring. The idea came from my favorite British author, Beverly Nichols, who wrote about gardens pre- and post- WWII.
I have all the winter-flowering plants he mentions, that are hardy here, starting with the Erica carnea. I also have February Daphne (Daphne mezereum), fragrant honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), and spring witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), and of course, snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii).
A beautiful snowfall! I'm reminded of the Japanese word Sekka, which means Snow Flowers. Those fresh white tufts of snow dappling the plants in the garden flatten out all the colors so the textures really come through. Most beautiful I think is the bark of the Betula nigra, or river birch, and the Ilex, or winterberry holly, with it's bright red berries.
Of course, the other winter flowers are the ones we give and receive for Valentine’s Day. Items in the Valentine Collection express specific sentiments: Maternal Love, Happy Marriage, Fidelity.
In Floriography, the meanings for different types, colors, and positions of roses seem endless, but suprisingly, most of the meanings are far from romantic! A “rose, full-blown, placed over buds” signifies Secrecy. Rosa mundi, the red and white striped flower, signifies Variety. Though as you might expect, a rose, any rose, signifies Love.
For the Valentines items I've added some favorite vintage postcards from my digital collection. These are the images that inspired the jewelry and help lift my spirits in this season of gray.