Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Mahogany Red’ usually blooms in April, but this year it jumped the gun and was in full dazzling flower in March. The bees were delighted. Not wanting to be left behind, Mahogany’s longtime garden companion, the fragrant Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, also made an early appearance with its lovely rosy-pink buds that open white. These two loving intertwiners have shared star billing in my garden for over fifteen years and have bloomed reliably and heavily every year. Both flourish in compost-rich, well-drained acid soil.
Camellia ‘Governor Mouton’, a hardy April bloomer, also flowered in March because of the unseasonably warm weather. A old favorite introduced in the eighteenth century, the Governor is quite the showstopper with vibrant red flowers splashed with white. (For hardy camellia culture information, see William Ackerman’s book, ”Beyond the Camellia Belt”, and click on my post, ”Exciting Plants for Shade”).
Edgeworthia chrysantha always blooms in March and this year is no exception. Despite the unexpected competition from the fabulous plants described above, Edgeworthia had no problem attracting attention with its showy yellow and white flowers that perfume the air with intoxicating fragrance; and when the flowers fade, the shrub sports beautiful, tropical like foliage for the rest of the growing season. All this on a woodland plant that appreciates shade.
March 2012 has been both a surprise and a joy.