Early April Garden Tour

TODAY, because the sun is shining, because the birds are singing, and because the air is deliciously (and deliriously!) mild, I’m heading outside with my camera. Would you like to see what’s shaking in the early April gardens here? Take a walk with me:

In the thawed-out soil beside the front porch, a group of winter aconites have made their welcome return. Do you have these Eranthis hyemalis in your garden? I love the lemon-yellow buds that emerge above green, ruffled collars.

In the Serpentine Garden (click here for a complete tour), quince ‘Crimson and Gold’ has set its buds. We could very well cut a few branches now, and bring them indoors. They are a cinch to force into early bloom.

Ah, snowdrops.  These Galanthus are finally pushing their way through the Baltic ivy that cloaks the lower terrace of the Serpentine Garden. Last year they bloomed for me on March 6. So I’d say the gardens here are about 3 weeks behind schedule.

Better late than never, right?

Last week, in another post, I showed you the spidery, yellow and red petals of Witch Hazel, or Hamamelis vernalis. I could swear that more flowers opened up in today’s sunshine. And just inhale that heavenly perfume!

Some of you have asked if Hamamelis is deer-proof. It is for me. But my deer might be more respectful than yours.

As we climb the gentle steps of the Serpentine, we discover the emerging tips of ‘Rip van Winkle’ daffodils…

Assorted heirloom crocuses…

And species tulips. These tiny ancestors of the tall, familiar “Dutch” tulips are a must for any garden. ‘Dasystemon Tarda,’ a sunshine-yellow variety, is sweetly-scented.  Species tulips bloom well indoors, too, but you must be willing pot the bulbs in autumn, and provide them with cold, dark rooting quarters.

We are at the top of the hill now, standing at the west gate of the Pool Garden. As you can see, the pool’s winter-covering is solidly frozen. But the ice will melt rapidly now, if our nighttime temperatures remain above freezing. I can hardly wait to skinny dip swim beneath the gaze of the various statues which surround the water.

Opposite the pool is the Kitchen Garden (click here for summertime photos). Here, the autumn-planted garlic is enjoying a day of sunshine.  I always plant “hard-neck” varieties, because they produce the “scapes” which are needed for this amazing pesto.

And here’s another treasure, visible only after we’ve removed a cluster of dried leaves. It’s a crown of rhubarb, now prepared to begin it’s spring campaign. Hallelujah!

Are you a fan of rhubarb? Some people can’t bear its tart taste. But I can’t imagine springtime without this swoon-worthy Rhubard Crisp.

We can enter the Woodland Garden now, but only if you are willing to climb over (or duck under) a fallen tree. The tree is just one of the casualties of our 2014 winter from hell. I’ll have to hire someone to cut the thing up. The sawed segments can be used for path-edging. (Here’s the Woodland Garden’s sordid story.)

The Hudson River tributary that runs behind the Woodland is as deep and wide as ever. The volume is the result of about 3 feet of melting snow, plus several days and nights of heavy rain.

We’re standing between the Kitchen and Pool Gardens now, looking down at the Herb Garden. This “formal” plot is located behind the Music Room wing of the house. If you have a small yard, consider designing for yourself a garden like this one, with just just four raised beds. You’d be amazed at how much produce you’ll harvest.

Shall we  head inside now? I’d like to offer you a bird’s-eye view of the Rose Garden.

I’d also like to offer you something to drink.

And because today is such a glorious day, I think a Lemon Drop Martini is in order.

That is, unless you are attending this tour before lunchtime. In that case, I’ll gladly serve you a cup of tea.

You can let me know which beverage you’ve chosen by leaving a comment.

In any event, here’s our view from a second floor window. Mercifully the snow is melting from the shady southern end of the Rose Garden.

Meanwhile, the northern end, which receives long hours of sun, has already been kissed by spring.

Well. I hope you had a good time on this little tour. I’ve certainly enjoyed your company.

Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly email updates.

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My Ancient Entrance Hall, Before & After Papering
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  1. Sharon Barnes says:

    It’s so nice to see spring may be on its way. Here in Maine, we just received 6 inches of very wet snow this week. However, today gives us hope as snow is melting, and I have my first wash out on the line. Think sprint!

  2. Lori Mancini says:

    I am jealous… I love gardens and live in an apartment so have to settle for potted plants. I also envy you for your rhubarb. I have always liked it. My Mother had a bed of it and after she passed I picked all I could and froze it knowing it is hard to find. I am sure the young couple who bought the house just plowed it under as it is a very under appreciated food.

  3. Laura Bremer says:

    How wonderful to see the emerging plants..we still have feet of snow here in Northern MI but the promise of spring is in the air. Thanks for the sneed peak Kevin.

  4. So nice to stroll through your gardens and see the pretty yellow aconites and other promising signs of new green growth emerging from beneath the leaves. Warmer here in the Pocono Mtns. of PA than it has been in many months. Supposed to reach a high of 56 degrees today! Still some snow cover, but it has been melting. Daffodil tips are up, but that’s about all. Oh, Kevin, I would so like a cup of tea … 2 sugars and lots of milk, please. :>)

  5. Thank you for the walk!

  6. Thank You for your garden tour, I’ll take a cup of tea please. I enjoy seeing your garden as it tells me what is waiting for me as we return home to the Catskill Mountains after wintering in Florida, our home is up on the mountain so our garden is about 2-3 weeks behind yours. We will return after Easter, the rhubarb will be ready for making a rhubarb custard pie. Hoping to see my spring bulbs this year, as they are usually spent by the time we return home. Your garden is a joy to see.

  7. Christine F says:

    Can you believe it! Finally it’s an officially nice day. I didn’t think I was going to get any snowdrops this year and suddenly, there they are in full bloom! Made me smile and give myself a pat on the back for making through this horrible winter.

  8. Thank you for the Garden Tour! I’m not ready for the ice cubes just yet…maybe in July. But since it is after lunch, would a nice Gewurtztraminer do? I’ll bring my own. And did Lily join in the Tour?

  9. So beautiful! Thank you for the tour,Kevin! We have snow here. I’d love a lemon drop martini! Someday, I’ll try it!

    I’ve a paper to write and a job to go to… so it’s coffee for me. I’d trade it for a cat nap if I could. 😉
    Enjoy your evening!

  10. Thanks for the tour – and the tea!

  11. I so enjoyed the spring tour, Kevin — what an uplifting promise of things to come up here in NH when we can finally see the ground again. We still have a foot of snow and up to 2 feet in some spots. I think I can hear our daffodils and crocuses gasping…

  12. Lucky you to have (slightly) picky deer. Here on the other — perhaps hungrier? — side of the Hudson, deer have eaten my witch hazels back to nubbins, and then to death. There’s a new solid fence, so I have hopes I can replant, but then I lead a rich fantasy life.

  13. I just had to help someone identify a flower in their yard which turned out tobe a snowdrop cluster. love the emerging plants poking through the dirt. spring is lovely. and I’ll take that martini!

  14. I’m only just seeing aconite and crocus blooming now in Zone 6. Daffodils have already poked their unopened blooms up, but the foliage is seriously shorter than last year. Hyacinths MAY be ready for Easter bouquets but only because it’s late this year.

    I think I’ll opt for the tea – it’s a work day, after all.

  15. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I’ve never tasted a martini, but yours would tempt me.

  16. Thank you Kevin I enjoyed your tour this morning. Out here in SE KS daffodils have been blooming over a week, peas and spinach are poking through. Garlic stays green all winter.

  17. Lemon drop! I think I’ll mix myself one. Then it’s off to prune the apple tree(s), now that I can get to them without snowshoes!

  18. Here in Florida we went from winter to summer last week – the azaleas are almost done. What’s blooming? Roses, pinks, birds of paradise

  19. Hi, Kevin. Great photos! It’s nice to see that things are coming up around there. You’ve made me excited to come up and see what’s developing in my yard. May need help with ID though……

  20. Charlotte DeBoer says:

    Your grounds beautiful in the early emerging spring. I just loved to tour with you and I would love some tea. Your tea cups are as beautiful as the rest of your home and gardens.

  21. Lemon drop martini!!! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Thanks for the tour, Kevin!

  22. Oh to see bare ground, an exquisite sight for tired winter eyes.

  23. Ava lansbery says:

    Life is so good on the first walk in Spring, it always reminds me that there are greater things than in my world than me. I’d better have the tea…..it’s 9:00 a.m. In Illinois.

  24. Linda Allen says:


  25. Beautiful.. Spring is indeed in the air.. Thank God! I’ve got shoots of spring bulbs popping up and perennial leeks as well.. but they’re quite late here in NE Ohio too..

    I’d love a Lemon Drop Martini… Im sure its 5o’clock somewhere. 😉

  26. leota bliss says:

    I enjoyed your tour. I would enjoy tea. Thanks you. Your kitty. He is getting old. I lost my kitty last fall a 13 yr. old tabby looked a lot like yours. He lost wait about 6 months before he died of cancer. I was devastated. Anyway some cats are just thin so I hope the best. Think about it some cats are just finicy eaters.

  27. I’ll have the Tea please, provided the Biscuits with the Jam and I assume that’s Lemon Curd next to the Teacup come with it.

  28. Thank you for sharing, Kevin. Your place is lovely and obviously loved. Lemon drop, please….it has always been my favorite!

  29. Barb Muhlfelder says:

    I look forward to your posts every week; you always make me smile. Can’t wait for your cookbook to be published; I hope that we won’t have to wait too long. Looking forward to your garden open house again this year. Yeah….

  30. Nancy M. says:

    Tea would be delightful! Thanks for that pretty shot of the Hudson. I grew up in Waterford where the Hudson & Mohawk rivers meet, and I miss having a river nearby. You’re lucky to live is such a beautiful place, and I love that you share it with your readers! I’m so glad I found your blog.

  31. Although it tis a tad before noon, I’d like to ‘live on the edge’ and enjoy a Lemon Drop martini to accompany a slice of that yummy looking tart. 🙂

  32. Rhonda Strahler says:

    Alas, I am no longer able to “skinny-dip” – I have graduated to “chunky-dunk”….

  33. Ahhh, glad I followed the link to the Lemon Drop recipe before answering — I don’t care for “regular” martinis so the name threw me off. The actual recipe sounds wonderful! So glad you guys are finally seeing bare ground. We were SO lucky in Utah this winter compared to practically everywhere else in the country — crocuses have come and gone, grape hyacinth long up, forsythia almost gone (have some cuttings hopefully rooting now — have you ever done that?), and my one little volunteer rose plant is fully leafed out (and looks big enough this year to maybe bloom) although the regular rose garden is still bare-looking canes. Apricot blooms past, pears out, apples coming close to bloom. Spring, yay! Wonderful garden tour, as always.

  34. I’ll have tea please, no sugar or lemon, thank you.

    My crocuses have begun flowering or, at least, one of them has. The others can’t be far behind though. Tulips and daffodils are poking through and the peonies I transplanted from my grandmother’s garden last fall have started to emerge already. So glad to see that.

  35. I am so jealous…it will be a few weeks before we can see the ground! I am going to make some raised beds this year. The soil here in NW Montana Rockies is full of rocks! 🙂

  36. Here in Zone 6b, the crocuses are up and the daffodils are blooming. There’s a yellow tinge on the forsythia and the knock out roses have swollen buds. Love nature’s little promises of warmer weather. One question for you Kevin: where did you get the aconites? I searched online and it looks like you can only purchase them from the UK. Do you have a source here in the USA? As usual, love your blog!

  37. ingmarie peck says:

    Very nice tour, Thank you. Your place will be even more beautiful when the snow is all gone and all the flowers bloom. Lovely blog as usual.

  38. Julia Hofley says:

    You’ve inspired me to head outdoors with my camera and see what’s sprung Kevin.
    Tea please!

  39. Ruth Weaver says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  40. Beautiful…thanks for sharing!

  41. Those spring pictures were DELICIOUS!!! Can’t wait for the warmer weather!!!!

  42. Just Beautful! Thanks for sharing Kevin! Tea Please 🙂

  43. Michelle Hidler says:

    Hi Kevin, love your website!! I took your advice last fall and planted garlic and shallots in raised beds and covered to protect over our rough Massachusetts winter. Our nights have been dropping to about 40 degrees. Can you tell me when I can remove the leaves and straw from the tops of the garlic and shallots? After all the work I do t want to expose them to the elements until they can handle it:). Thanks for all you do!

  44. Rachel Clark says:

    It’s after seven here in California, so must be time for a lemon drop martini! You may not believe I get very excited to see bulbs peeking up from the ground in my garden because we have no snow, but it is always magic nonetheless. Spring bulbs are spent now, except for the new daffodils I planted late. Dahlias, glads, and lilies are already up. Time to pick lemons for your tart and rhubarb for your crisp. Who can live without rhubarb? Enjoying your blog as usual. My all-time favorite even far across the country. Enjoy your Spring!

  45. Judy walker nalda says:

    I live in hawaii so watching your garden emerge is such a treat for me. I hope you continue to let us see this process. Do force some quince. I notice you have a lot of yellow going on, both in your garden and lemon yellow in your dining room. I savor your post each sun. It’s one of my sunday treats.

  46. Cherie heely says:

    Love your gardens, and recipies, Kevin. Your boxwoods look great after a harsh winter. What type are they? Korean boxwood?

  47. Liz in Salem says:

    Ah Kevin, a lemon drop martini after a stroll through the early spring offerings of your gardens would hit the spot! With 3′ snow in my yards and gardens, I’m still enjoying tea and garden planning by the wood stove. I did start some Christmas Lima seeds a few weeks ago, thinking they would dawdle. Woosh..they are about 10″ and 3 leaves tall. I’ll soon have trellises on our big south-facing glass porch. With my other veg/flower starts coming up, I can tour my porch at least! Thank you for sharing the rewards of gardening via your early garden tour.

  48. Ahhh! Thanks for the tour! Im so excited for spring, I can hardly wait! I will take the martini, of course! It is after noontime here, but even if it were before noon, I might be persuaded to try it!
    I do like tea though. My teaset is inherited from a great-uncle and aunt who are gone now. The set is pink and doesnt match my kitchen(or anything!) but it’s the thought that counts!Cheers!

  49. Janet G. Metzger says:

    late afternoon martini, please!

    garlic and onions are up. My guest house neighbor and I now have planted and in full bloom a butterfly and hummingbird garden. We will finish up details (trellis and vines — yellow jasmine and also honeysuckle this week)

    Spider’s wort that I brought with me from Knoxville is blooming; mint made it through but not the rosemary. Oh well!

    Have a good afternoon! Pax,

  50. Madaline says:

    It would be tea for me, please. Thank you, Kevin. Your tour was once again an inspiration.

  51. Hi Kevin, I’l take tea please – if the kettle is still hot – its been a couple of days since you offered – mmm that lemon tart looks delicious –
    here in the heart of the Waikato NZ the april weather is still giving us high summer temps – the ground is brown and dusty – it was refreshing to take a tour of your garden with you -beautiful photos – so lovely to see snow. I am busy planting out and potting up bearded iris – ……. tea was refreshing thank you – enjoy you news letters – recipe’s and tours…….

  52. The red tulips are just perfect this year and I have daffodils everywhere!! I know the spring is certain if the white tulips are blooming and they are open and also the hyacinths have left their wonderful scent. the tour was great. I am thinking about the lemon drop.

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