Even in the dead of winter, a North Carolina garden isn’t completely dormant. Birds are busy visiting the feeders during the day, and at night we can hear the barred owls calling to each other. The local coyotes have also been noisy lately, and a couple of nights ago eldest offspring heard a harsh screaming that didn’t sound like a fox. We are reasonably sure that it was a bobcat. Among the flower beds, Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’ is still blooming, and the buds of Edgeworthia chrysantha are swelling. The green foliage of winter growing bulbs like Lycoris radiata and Scilla peruviana add a little color to otherwise barren mulch, and today, the first Narcissus of the year is blooming.
Narcissus cantabricus is a miniature “hoop petticoat” narcissus native to southern Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. As with most bulbs purchased from big bulb vendors, I can’t be certain that this plant doesn’t have some hybrid genes, but it generally matches the description of the species and blooms very early as expected. The plant is tiny–certainly not a spectacular specimen that draws the eye across the garden–but it is a promise of good things to come. The garden should have various Narcissus species and hybrids blooming most weeks from now until the last Narcissus poeticus fades in late April or early May.