Garden Photo of the Day

Itching for Spring in PA

Path from the driveway to my front walk. Heuchera shine. Hydrangea serrata still looks great after the winter.

Kevin Kelly is reporting in on the progress of spring in Pennsylvania! Things are happening!

"Spring has been teasing us here in Harrisburg, PA. The trees and shrubs are budding, but have not opened. Perennials are just starting to push new growth from their blankets of composted leaves. The ground is warming, but too wet in our clay soils to “get down and dirty”. Local nurseries are just starting to get their plants in. I have already placed orders from 3 mail order companies (I just can’t resist buying from those beautiful plants from catalogues)."

Here is a taste of what is blooming now, as I wait for the rebirth of the garden over the next few weeks.

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Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’

Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’

Primula vulgaris

Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’

Sedum rupestre “Angelina’ and Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’

Peony breaking ground


Glimpse of my back yard behind the shed


Narcissus ‘Tete Boucle’

Stachys byzantina

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard'

View Comments


  1. jeffgoodearth 03/31/2016

    Is this not an exciting time of year with new surprises every day popping up. The fresh colors and vigor of emerging plants. My favorite pic is the Peony reaching for the sun

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      I agree. I love the colors and interesting looks of emerging plants. It can sometimes be as exciting as the floral display later on. It is also reassuring to see all our the plants we care for proving they made it through the winter.

    2. ginamichel 03/31/2016

      I love that image, too! Is it taken with a macro lens, by chance?

      1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

        It was not. I used a Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens and shot it at f/4

        1. ginamichel 04/01/2016

          Thank you for responding. I'll try that on mine when it gets to that point. Happy spring! : )

  2. diane_lasauce 03/31/2016

    Glad to see your world warming!

  3. ijz 03/31/2016

    Christmas in spring. Love to see all the "surprises" that push through the earth and remind us of what we planted. Thanks for sharing.

  4. NCYarden 03/31/2016

    Such a wonderful part of the season. The best part... walk around again moments later, and it has already changed again. The sun sits just right too, making all the plants glow instead of blowing out. Digging that primrose and super loaded Hellebore 'Pink Frost'.
    Take another lap, Kevin - I'm sure there's something new.

  5. user-4691082 03/31/2016

    Kevin, I love seeing your garden. We're all like little kids cheering on our favorite teams, except that our teams are plants. Just lovely. Can't wait to see a little further in the season. No more frost, no more frost!

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      We sure do love seeing our "kids" waking up in the spring. Just saw that we are expecting a couple of days with highs around 40 and lows in the 20's. Not happy. I am definitely in the spring mode.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/31/2016

    Wonderful pictures of wondrous subjects, Kevin. I share your "Oh, goodie" delight in things coming back to life. I have a question for you about 'Everillo' you do any cutting back of it this time of year? I used it as a bright pop of winter color in some container compositions and now I'm not sure what to do about the brown tips and seed heads. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      Yes, I do cut back 'Everillo', which browns a bit for me in this climate every winter. Usually I cut it in early March. As you can see in my picture, I have cut it, and it is pushing out new growth with the seed heads, which this cultivar does fairly early. As with all Carex, it is important not to cut close to the crown. I learned that after I killed a few. I usually give Carex more of a trim.

      1. perenniallycrazy 04/05/2016

        Thanks for the tip. I don't cut mine down. My Everillo amazingly stays golden all year long. Love your garden Kevin! So much spring cheer, hope and promise in your photos. Please come back again and again.

        1. user-7007498 04/05/2016

          Thanks for the compliments. I love this blog. So many great gardens and wonderful people. I would love to visit many of the posters gardens. I enjoy sharing my garden as well. Thanks again.

  7. Quiltingmamma 03/31/2016

    How lovely your garden is and these new signs of promise of things to come. I love the sun turning the plants to radiant. That little Tea Boucle is something else. A lot of snow has melted here and I have my first crocus maybe in 2-3 weeks I'll have these similar indications of Spring. Thanks for giving me hope.

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      I found that Narcissus at Brent and Becky's bulbs. Love it. Just planted it last year, so I was excited to see it bloom.

  8. User avater
    user-7007816 03/31/2016

    This can be a fun time of year watching the garden come alive. I live in central Michigan and we a just a little behind you.

  9. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/31/2016

    Hi Kevin, I hope you will share pictures again, looks like you have a beautiful garden! I too got and love Pink Frost. Just yesterday I saw Pink Penny at a friend's garden and wow what gorgeous foliage. It's a must have. She said she got it at Lowe's. Her hellebores were thick and healthy and get sun. My poor hellebores bloom in the shade. But they will have to make do, sun is limited. Is that just the species Hydrangea serrata or a cultivar? I have been considering getting Bluebird. Any feedback?

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      I just picked up a few 'Pink Penny' at the local garden center a couple of days ago. The color looks fabulous. I love Hellebores, because the bracts look great for so long, and they are an awesome evergreen ground cover. I mostly plant them around deciduous trees, or the north and eastern edges of evergreen conifers.

      The cultivar of the Hydrangea serrata is 'Preziosa'. I love it because the flowers go from white to pink to reddish purple and look great for months. I have seen 'Bluebird' in another garden and it is stunning as well. Hydrangea serrata seem to overwinter better in zone 6b, as compared to H. macrophylla, with less dieback and bud loss.

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/31/2016

    Always a treat to see your garden, Kevin. Pink Frost certainly is a winner, isn't it? Mine is loaded like yours and it is hard to see the foliage for the flowers. I love my florist hyacinths that come back every year. I have a purple that blooms first, and then a pink like the one in your photo that is just starting to bloom. Might be a little common and over-the-top floral, but that fragrance sends me.
    I'm like you and have been so enamored with the emerging foliage and nascent buds of the peonies. It may have been Beth Chatto (or perhaps Ms. Chatto quoting another great English gardener) who spoke about the rosy snouts of emerging peonies. I think of that every spring as I do the garden tour (and lament about what a mess everything is because of weeds and undone clean up!). Cheers

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      "Rosy snouts"- I love the description. Gave me a laugh.

      I agree with you about hyacinths-the fragrance is so intoxicating, I just have to have them around. My other favorite scent is clethra alnifolia. I have multiple cultivars strategically placed around the garden, so I can always enjoy the fragrance in the summer.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/01/2016

        Clethra. I know of it, but have never paid attention enough to even know if I've seen one in person. You've piqued my interest with your mention of fragrance. Tell me a little more: multi-season interest? Does it look good all summer? Fall color? I know I've seen lots of cultivars advertised, so I bet I could find a small one to shoe-horn in!

        1. user-7007498 04/01/2016

          Clethra is a native deciduous shrub that blooms from July to August. It is an upright shrub that grows by rhizomes. It is a bee magnet. Ideally in partial shade with some moisture, but once established can take more dryness. Can take more sun if moisture is present. Multiple cultivars from 2-3 feet up to 6 feet. No pest problems. Awesome shrub.

          1. user-7007498 04/01/2016

            Fall color is yellow

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/01/2016

            Thanks Kevin. Bloom time is a definite plus. Do you have Ruby Spice? I like the color, although some of the white ones look pretty spiffy.

          3. user-7007498 04/01/2016

            I do have Ruby Spice. Grows 4-6 feet. Lovely pink flowers. Plant in a location where the smell will waft down to an area you frequent. You can't go wrong with any of them.

  11. VikkiVA 03/31/2016

    Who doesn't love spring! Thanks for the tour of your wakening garden. I always get a kick out of seeing peonies breaking ground. It looks like chicken feet to me. :) Vikki in VA

  12. GrannyMay 03/31/2016

    Thanks Kevin! Spring is such a happy, hopeful time, wherever you garden. My H. Pink Frost has been performing beyond expectations, being only a year old.

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      It is the star of my hellebores. People stop whenever they see it.

  13. annek 03/31/2016

    It is such a joy to see the earth waking up. Every picture made me smile because of the promise it holds. Thank you for assuring this northern mountain dweller that spring is on the way!

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      Glad to hold out hope and make you smile. I don't think I am "hardy" enough to make it north of zone 6b.

  14. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 03/31/2016

    There is nothing quite like spring and seeing all of those valiant little plants emerging to make us feel renewed and Kevin, your garden looks like the perfect place for that. Tim, I'm going to remember that peony quote for my peony obsessed friends:)

  15. user-3565112 03/31/2016

    Kevin, Do you have a microclimate working for you ? I am 60 miles south of you & the primula is just waking up & the Angelina still has most of it's winter color. Your early spring photos are terrific. Spring is nature's way of saying "Let's Party "( Robin Williams) Good luck to you all, Joe

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      I oversummer (and winter) the Primula in a shady location near my shed, which provides a little extra warmth and protection from winter winds. I then move them to prominent spots in full sun in early spring.

      The S. 'Angelina' is mostly near sidewalks, hellstrips, rocks or on sunny berms I created. I love microclimates.

      1. user-3565112 04/01/2016

        Kevin, Thank you for the information re: the primulus. I am going to try that this fall. Good luck this spring in your gardens. Joe

  16. schatzi 03/31/2016

    Spring is my favorite season. Your garden and photos are beautiful, Kevin. My favorite is the Japanese maple - red leaves against the bluest sky - gorgeous!

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      Thanks. I love the new growth from the maple as well. Could spend hours looking at it.

  17. sheila_schultz 03/31/2016

    Spring is such a hopeful time with so many possibilities yet to discover. Every single year watching the tree buds swell, the teeny-tiny heart shaped leaves of the brunnera pop through the soil... it just makes me happy! Now if only my Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard' was standing as upright as yours...
    Kevin, i love your combo with the boxwood surrounded by angelina... it's gorgeous. The Narcissus ‘Tete Boucle’ is pretty sweet, too! Heck, ALL of your photos are a delight! You brightened my day!

    1. user-7007498 03/31/2016

      Thanks for you comments. I love the seasonal changes. S. 'angelina' is awesome when planted around evergreens, because it really increases the 4 season appeal.

      That narcissus is really cool. Just planted it last fall, so this was the first I saw it.

  18. views_opinion 03/31/2016

    I tried to post to create a new discussion. But I am not able to. May be some setting or rule. Idk but here is what I need help with;

    I planted about 50 seeds of lavender indoors in seed trays about two weeks ago, when the temperature was still cold. However, some 4 days back I took them outside when the sun was shining brightly (temperatures around 21 degree Celsius) and lay them there for a couple of days with regular misting. But the temperatures in the night fell down to some 9 degree Celsius regularly.

    So, while I observed the newly sprouted plants before I moved them outdoors, with just two sets of leaves, that are probably temporary, Yesterday I found them curled upwards and the underside looks blue. I fear that It is a heat stress as the location is a hot spot. And Meanwhile, due to presence of some termites and aphids around, I also prayed them lightly with a Neem oil solution a couple of days ago, just to give them some kind of protection. And that might have proved to be the culprit as well. : (

    Right now I just moved them indoors and placed under a cool whitish LED 3W, drenched the soil with a low dose of organic fertilizer followed by thorough misting with cool clear water. Tomorrow, I am planning to place them at a spot with partial sunlight and make sure I spray no more of neem oil and keep the soil moist.

    I hope I am doing the right thing as I am really looking forward to progress with my lavender.

  19. wGardens 04/05/2016

    Great photos,. Kevin! Look forward to more as the season progresses. I haven't checked damage here after this 7 inches of snow and 6 degree weather. Hope your area avoided it! Haven't seen that variety of narcissus~ sweet! Your "Pink Frost" is luscious~ I need that one! ;-) !!

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