Despite the ongoing cycle of cold and more cold, the sudden arrival of a few warm days, and another burst of cold, the garden is slowly working its way toward spring. The warm days are warmer, the days are longer, the sun is stronger, and the garden responds.
The first snowdrops peeked their heads out this week.
And the hellebores are amassing their blooms, mostly hidden under the protection of winter browned leaves, but increasingly visible. It is early yet to clean the garden too thoroughly, a blanket of fading leaves offers a layer of protection, and there are still a few hard frosts in the immediate forecast.
But there is also new growth, and flowers; flowers which brighten my spirits.
The camellias are also beginning to open. Most of them are the color of the blossom shown above, but perhaps the one I adore the most was this one below, in a photo taken a week ago, the same blossom that partially emerged earlier in January then waited patiently in that half emergent state for weeks. It is faded now, but the memory of its progress, of the colors perhaps tinged by cold and frost, remans still, nature's reminder that life and beauty will endure.
Winter is not quite over, even in Tennessee, nor in Dallas, where it was warmer but still wintery. When I lived in the Hudson Valley, February was the most depressing month, often bitterly cold, plagued with alternating freezes and thaws, and the depressing knowledge that flowers were still months away. Spring is a bit closer at hand here, but this has been most consistently "wintery" winter since I moved to Tennessee. We too can use a bit of February color. And on that note, I'll leave you with this photo of a cyclamen in my kitchen window. I purchased it last night, at a fund-raiser for the local Ronald McDonald House. In these late winter days, when the world is still mostly dreary gray and brown out my kitchen window, these bright pink blossoms will bring a spark of joy and an often needed reminder that light and color will come.