Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2016

Galanthus nivalis 2 Ondra

There’s a lot to smile about right now, that’s for sure. It’s not often that I have enough flowers in mid-March for a Bloom Day post. Our weather has been so freakishly warm–more like May or June than March–that new things are coming into bloom daily, and some of the earliest bulbs are almost finished now.

Crocus tommasinianus with Pachysandra procumbens and Helleborus foetidus; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Crocus tommasinianus with Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens) and bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) [March 8, 2016]

Crocus tommasinianus; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Crocus tommasinianus [March 1, 2016]

Crocus chrysanthus; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Crocus chrysanthus [March 8, 2016]

Crocus vernus Jeanne d'Arc; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Crocus vernus ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ [March 12, 2016]

Meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Meadow saffron (Bulbocodium vernum) [March 12, 2016]

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) [March 8, 2016]

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) [March 8, 2016]

Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) [March 12, 2016]

 'Tete-a-Tete' daffodil (Narcissus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

‘Tete-a-Tete’ daffodil (Narcissus) [March 12, 2016]

A couple of the earliest wildflowers are opening now too.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) [March 11, 2016]

Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) [March 12, 2016]

A few more shrubs and trees have gotten an early start.

Dwarf sweet box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Dwarf sweet box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis) [March 13, 2016]

'Okame' flowering cherry (Prunus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

‘Okame’ flowering cherry (Prunus) [March 12, 2016]

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) [March 12, 2016]: not the prettiest shrub, form-wise

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) [March 12, 2016]: the flowers aren’t spectacular, but they’re deliciously fragrant

And, of course, it’s hellebore season!

Helleborus dumetorum; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Helleborus dumetorum [March 13, 2016]

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) [March 8, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) [March 12, 2016]

With all of these flowers springing up all over the place, I couldn’t resist capturing some of them with the plaster casting technique I started using last fall.

Helleborus x hybridus Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield Ondra

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus)

Helleborus x hybridus Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus)

Galanthus nivalis Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Galanthus nivalis Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Galanthus nivalis Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Galanthus nivalis Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Galanthus nivalis Botanical Impression Tile; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Several years ago, I wrote an online article for HGTV on using natural dyes to color fabric. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to try the same materials on eggs, and I finally had the chance last week. Blowing out the eggs was icky (even using some of the veterinary syringes I keep on hand for the boys’ monthly shots), and not all of the dyes worked out as I hoped they would, but I was still very pleased with the results.

Coloring Eggs with Natural Dyes; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

White and brown eggs colored with natural dyes

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

To add extra interest, I placed small leaves and flowers on the eggs and wrapped them in pieces of nylon stocking before placing them in the dye.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Blueberries produced a gorgeous denim blue.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Red cabbage created this lovely light blue. The snowdrop flower didn’t come out too well, though.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

I’d originally wrapped this one with red and yellow onion skins, but the color wasn’t as deep as I’d hoped, so I then soaked it hibiscus tea for several hours, which darkened it a bit more.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

This one soaked only in hibiscus tea. The “sun” is the outline of a coltsfoot flower.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Turmeric is usually a foolproof yellow dye. I managed to stain my fingers, several of my tea towels, and even a “stainless” steel pot, but the eggs picked up hardly any color even after an overnight soaking, so I then left this one in the leftover onion-skin dye for a few hours.

Dyeing Eggs with Botanical Prints; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

I wish I could remember exactly what produced this deep blue egg. I think it was in red-cabbage dye for several hours first, then in the leftover blueberry dye overnight.

I’ll be taking some of the best eggs — along with botanical impression tiles, seeds, felted soaps, alpaca fiber, Hayefield photo notecards, and copies of my new book, The Perennial Matchmaker — to sell at Springfair at Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, PA, on Saturday, March 19. There will be a number of vendors too, with all kinds of spring-themed gifts and edible goodies. It’s also Linden Hill’s popular Hellebore Weekend, and they’ll have lots of gorgeous plants for sale. It would be a treat to meet some of you there!

28 responses to this post.

  1. You are stretching your artistic abilities beautifully. I just love those plaster casts. The eggs are incredible. Happy GBBD.

    Thanks, Lisa. Some many fun things to do, so little time. Pinterest is a dangerous thing. Happy spring to you!
    -Nan

  2. Posted by Susan Gilmour on March 15, 2016 at 6:35 am

    You have lots in bloom, WOW. I have one crocus!! It started out with warmish weather a few weeks ago but now back to the deep freeze. I get out there and pick about when it thaws but not able to do much yet. I do have snowdrops in bloom! And one crazy hellebore(Jacob), it blooms all winter, under brush, I take the brush off and enjoy it when the snow melts! Totally love your art! The eggs and the plaster art are amazing, you will have fun at the Springfair for sure, wish I could be there, just a 19 hr drive for me!! Good luck!! TTFN…Sue

    Hi Sue! If you’d had a stretch of 70- to 80-degree days in March, your blooms would be well advanced too. It’s almost a bit sad to have everything whizzing into bloom so quickly, instead of getting to savor each new flower. And, I’m trying not to think about what’s going to happen when we do get frost again. It’s been 2 weeks without so far, but we’re still a good 7 weeks before our last frost date, so another freeze is inevitable. May your own spring progress slowly but steadily, so you can enjoy every minute.
    -Nan

  3. Posted by christine on March 15, 2016 at 7:32 am

    beautiful spring blooms!

    I hope you’re enjoying some early gems in your own garden, Christine!
    -Nan

  4. Posted by Mel on March 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

    All very pretty.

    Good to hear from you, Mel. Happy Bloom Day!
    -Nan

  5. Your flowers are beautiful! Spring is such an exciting time to see everything return. Great idea for the eggs. I remember my grandfather showing us how to dye eggs with onion skins.

    It was so exciting to run across the idea of adding botanicals when I was hunting for information on natural dyes for eggs. When I dye another batch, I’m going to do a bunch more brown eggs in red onion-skin dye. I’d never thought of dyeing brown eggs before, but the results were gorgeous.
    -Nan

  6. Posted by Nancy Bellaire, HellofromMD on March 15, 2016 at 9:15 am

    My sweet box doesn’t have a sweet smell, although it did when I bought it at the nursery. Is this a plant that has male and female and I need to get a second one to get scent? Love the tommies and the way they spread.

    Hi Nancy. I get very little scent from the sweet box: usually only when I’m down at ground level trying to photograph the flowers. (Still, it’s better than the odor of regular box!) I much prefer the winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) for scent this time of year. Though it’s not a handsome shrub, it provides an abundant supply of branches to cut and bring indoors.
    -Nan

  7. I too was surprised to see you with a bloom day post in March! So many nice Hellebores! The treasure of this post though is the eggs — really wonderful! :)

    Hi there, Alan! I’m so pleased that you too like the eggs. It’s astounding how many creative ideas people have come up with. I didn’t realize how tricky it would be to dye blown-out eggs, since they want to float, of course, but it was an interesting challenge. Next, perhaps, is using those dyes on some alpaca fiber.
    -Nan

  8. Posted by Julia Harris on March 15, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Thank you for sharing definitely something to smile about! I look forward to each post you make!!!!

    Aw, thank you, Julia. Happy Bloom Day to you and yours!
    -Nan

  9. What a lovely walk through the spring woods!! I must remember to take time today to walk through Dock Woods where I live. I was worried that my daffodils would not be blooming for Easter, now I am worried they will be gone by Easter! I am grateful for the early promise of spring.
    I will look for you at the Springfair–thanks for posting the information.
    Verna

    Oh, it would be so wonderful to see you again, Mrs. Colliver! It has been a long time since we sat together in my previous garden. Enjoy your walk today: looks like we will be spared the rain.
    -Nan

  10. Posted by Liz on March 15, 2016 at 10:52 am

    You are my idol! I am constantly inspired and educated by you. I simply cannot put down your latest book—and you’d never believe I’ve only had it a week. It’s dog-eared, highlighted and has notes in the margin on just about every page! It’s got dirty fingerprints on it from being carried around my gardens with me. I USE my books. I think I’ll order another copy to keep in pristine condition on the bookshelf!

    Liz, you just paid me the highest compliment I can imagine. In a gardening book, at least, dirty, dog-eared pages are a true measure of success. Hooray for Rodale using good-quality paper, so your first copy of The Perennial Matchmaker should hold up for a while longer. Best wishes to you for a wonderful gardening season!
    -Nan

  11. Posted by Allan Robinson on March 15, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Hi Nan, thank you so much for a wonderful bloom day Post. Here in England it has been mild (Mildest since records began), however the last few days have been frosty. I love your photos, the plants, the plaster casts, however, I especially love the coloured eggs, takes me back to school/child hood days, when we coloured eggs for Easter. Spring has sprung, I am so excited to be able to garden again, frogspawn in the pond, birds nesting and of course plants coming into leaf and/or flower. Just hope we get some of the lovely weather you have been experiencing. Thanks again for sharing.

    Hello Allan! Our spring has been record-breaking too, temperature-wise. At least we’ve finally gotten some much-needed rain. Yes, working with the eggs brought back some wonderful memories for me too. This is the first time I ever tried blowing them out, but I shattered only one and cracked just a few out of four dozen. Making the dyes from plants instead of buying a box of tablets took extra time as well, but the unpredictable results made the process all the more intriguing. I wish you and yours a lovely spring in your garden!
    -Nan

  12. Your spring flowers are lovely, but your eggs are fabulous! Spring is certainly with you!

    Thanks for stopping by today, Pauline. It’s an exciting time of year for gardeners, for sure!
    -Nan

  13. Posted by Barbara Dashwoood on March 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    You are such an inspiration, Nan! The tiles and eggs are just lovely. Wish I could make it to the spring fair. A long way from here though….and too many seedlings on the go requiring daily attention, not to mention my first attempt at mushroom growing. Good luck! Barbara, Victoria, BC

    My goodness…you’re growing mushrooms now? What a fascinating adventure! I hope everything goes well for you and all of the things you are nurturing, Barbara.
    -Nan

  14. Posted by Katherine on March 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    One of the BEST ‘shares’ I’ve seen. I’d love to be able to spend a few weeks living the wonderful Life you’ve created. So in touch with Nature, and so very creative. The eggs are just lovely!!!! Do you take your own photos? I’m in California… The other side of our World. Thank you for sharing! Katherine

    Thanks so much, Katherine. I could wish that my projects were a little more…um…profitable, but other than that, I do feel very lucky to have the opportunity to indulge in them. Yes, I do take all of the photos you see here, in my own gardens. Happy spring!
    -Nan

  15. Posted by Erin on March 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I love the white snowdrop on the blue background. Is it for sale?

    Hi Erin! Yep, all of the tiles (these and a bunch more) are for sale. I was planning to take them to the show this Saturday and put up any that I still have on Etsy next week. But if you’re really interested in that one, I’d be happy to send you more details on it now. You can reach me at nan@hayefield.com.
    -Nan

  16. Posted by Lorraine Wallace on March 15, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Nancy, These are gorgeous! What’s the link to your plaster cast method? I thought I saved it but can’t locate it. How did you get the antique bronze/copper effect for the hellebore? thanks for sharing! Lorraine

    Thanks, Lorraine! The post you’re looking for is First Impressions. For the copper finish, I painted the base with solid black acrylic, let it dry, painted with a 50/50 mix of turquoise acrylic and glazing medium, wiped most of it off before it dried, let the rest dry again, and then dabbed on copper acrylic paint with my finger. I really like the results!
    -Nan

  17. Posted by Lorraine Wallace on March 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks, Nan. Love that look too!
    I looked at your original post and checked all the links in it, but could not find the detailed instructions about how to make the tiles. I know whatever I saw back then had photos of the process. Could it have been in the Gardens Illustrated article, which is no longer available in full? Can you point me in the direction of how to do this?
    Also, in looking at your original tiles, I see that you have perfected your technique and the impressions are much more distinct. Any hints?

    Thanks again,
    Lorraine

    Hey again. I don’t know that there are any detailed directions available online; I did a lot of experimenting to work it out. The full text of the Gardens Illustrated article is still available on Rachel Dein’s site here, but it doesn’t include much detail either. As I’d hoped, the fresh spring blooms make much stronger impressions than wispy fall grasses, though it was very challenging to make hellebores cooperate with the process. Painting and faux finishes also bring out more detail than the natural or solid white finishes. I hope to write out the details at some point, but so far I haven’t found the time. If you have specific questions, though, feel free to ask!
    -Nan

  18. Your blooms are beautiful and your plaster casting artwork using the flowers is absolutely fabulous! I love that you are bringing nature and art together and capturing nature’s beauty….stunning!

    Thanks, Lee! Inspiration for the casting is due to Rachel Dein of Tactile Studio. I’ve enjoyed taking it in a slightly different direction with the finishing techniques, but I think her natural times are terrific.
    -Nan

  19. Posted by Susan Confalone on March 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Wow!! You never cease to amaze with your new projects! Love the snowdrop casting with the vase! Those eggs are amazing! So interesting the turmeric stained everything except the egg! And onion skins gave it a deep, rich color. Go figure! I would have never thought to stick leaves on them for patterns. That’s a very nice, interesting touch. I really enjoyed this post.

    Ah, that tile is one of my favorites, too; it was rather tricky to do. I still don’t understand why the turmeric didn’t work on the eggs, but I intend to try again. Eggs are on sale this week! There are so many amazing ideas for creative eggs dyes, but those using plants and natural materials really caught my attention. Pinterest is a dangerous place….
    -Nan

  20. The early spring is enjoyable, but I’m wondering if we will pay in extra summer heat too, though it was nice to finally grow eggplants in the ground last year! Your plaster casts are amazing, Nan, and your painting jobs are so skillful.

    Hey, let’s not even go there (though I can’t help but wonder the same thing). Thanks for the lovely comments!
    -Nan

  21. I love the spring bulbs, most of which sadly won’t grow here in southern California, or at least won’t return after their first round. Your plaster castings are wonderful too – I especially like those featuring the snowdrops.

    I hope “The Perennial Matchmaker” is selling well. I enjoyed it and, again, appreciate that you saw fit to include one of my photos. I gave the book a shout-out in one of my own posts (dated March 5th). Best wishes!

    Hiya, Kris! Yes, I suppose snowdrops wouldn’t be too happy in your conditions; sorry about that. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the book and really appreciate you giving it a mention. (I’m woefully behind on blog visiting but will check it out.) I still adore your inspired pairing of deep red ‘Cherry Brandy’ rudbeckia with the gaura: so charming!
    -Nan

  22. Hi Nan and Happy GBBD! It’s so much fun to see your bulbs. Most of the ones you showed bloomed for me in February. It was like getting a second show. Thanks! I can’t grow Galanthus. I’ve tried. Too hot here in the summer probably. Your hellebores are lovely. This has been a great year for hellebores. Winter honeysuckle is one of my favorite scents. There is nothing quite like it. I have a shrub that was supposed to be winter honeysuckle, but it’s some other kind of honeysuckle. It blooms too late, but smells good. I should take a photo sometime and send it to you. Maybe you know what it is. Loved the eggs and the dyes. When do you find the time to be so creative and keep up with the boys and garden too?~~Dee

    And here I thought *we* were way ahead this year; you are even further along. Sure, I’d be glad to take a look at a photo of your mystery lonicera. Looks like I’ll be back to work soon enough, but it was fun to have some time to play. Happy Bloom Day back to you, Dee!
    -Nan

  23. I have to try some plaster casts … they keep popping up in my field of vision and I think they’re just beautiful! Love all the blooms. All of my favorites: snowdrops (especially awesome next to “bunny”), crocus, reticulated iris, spring beauties, aconite … I have lots and lots of “favorites” being an addict. Thank you for sharing such beauty. The eggs are fabulous! The world needs more of you.

    You’re so kind, Kathy. Do give the plaster casting a try! It takes a bit of effort to get everything together, but once you start, it’s a captivating process.
    -Nan

  24. I love the color of the blueberry dye. I don’t know why I never imagined they would give so much color. I’d have a hard time sacrificing some tasty berries to dye, though!

    Blueberry was outstanding on fabric too. I started out with a 2-pint container, but, as you can imagine, not all of those berries made it into the dyeing process.
    -Nan

  25. Posted by Eric Sternfels on March 18, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Inspiring post, Nan. I’ll add to the chorus of appreciation for the easter eggs. The photo of the group especially compelling, with the alpaca wool cushioning the collection of botanical silhouettes in lovely muted colors. It’s a refreshing contrast to the world of perky pastels that usual prevail in commercially marketed Easter wares.
    But I so appreciate your pic of Sweetbox blooms, since Ive always assumed I had been searching for the flowers a few weeks too late. That IS all there is!
    Today, I’m enjoying some blue/purple hyacinth and Cardamine quinquefolia here in my Philadelphia garden wondering about the snow that is in our forecast for Sunday.

    Good to hear from you, Eric! Putting the eggs on a bed of the boys’ fiber seemed like a perfect display option. And yep, that’s pretty much it for the sweet box blooms. I imagine that happier plants bloom more abundantly, but the flowers are mostly under the leaves anyway. Oh my, the weather: from 80s to snow in the same month is crazy!
    -Nan

  26. Your Easter eggs are beautiful, even the ones you say didn’t turn out quite right. I’ve seen instructions for doing this with eggs, but have never tried it. Some of them look like stone. Your plaster casts are beautiful too! Oh, and so are all the flowers!

    Hi Alison! One of the neat effects I didn’t show in a closeup was flicking the eggs with liquid coconut oil with an old toothbrush before dyeing. The blue ones really looked like spatterware; very cool. Happy spring to you!
    -Nan

  27. Posted by Arie on March 23, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Gorgeous shots – here in Ontario we are just seeing snowdrops and the very beginnings of the crocuses thus far, plus the odd hellebore. Love the colour of the reticulate iris – I take it that’s the species and not a cultivar?
    Arie

    I hope you get to enjoy a leisurely start to the growing season, Arie. We’re zipping along so fast here that there’s no time to appreciate each individual bloom. I got that iris in a collection labeled only “Rock Garden Mixture.” It might be a specific selection, but it didn’t come with a cultivar name.
    -Nan

  28. Not a bad show for the middle of March, I can’t believe even the first daffodils are already in full bloom for you!
    The egg colors are great, all rich and warm. They really go well with the castings and I hope you had a successful day in Ottsville! Someday I hope to get down there during hellebore season.

    Daffodils are one thing, but astoundingly, the local home improvement centers already have tomato, pepper, and basil plants out for sale! What a waste. Yes, I had a terrific day at the sale; thanks. The castings were very popular: enough so that I am working on making more and improving my techniques. I’ve made some really nice impressions of ‘Tete-a-Tete’ daffodils, bulbs and all, this week.
    -Nan

Comments are closed.