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A Sure Sign Of Spring

The shoots of this plant are some of the first in our border to emerge each spring where it seems immune to late-spring frosts.

Every year one of the first harbingers of spring in our garden is the appearance of the bright-yellow blooms of our cherished Adonis Vernalis plant. We have had this plant in our garden for probably 35 years after it was given to us by a lady in Birtle, the late Mrs. Edwards, who had them growing in her garden decades ago. We have taken the plant with us each time we have moved and it continues to be a prized possession.

Adonis Vernalis is a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family and the lineage is fitting as the bright, single, butter-yellow blooms are certainly buttercup in appearance. The foliage is finely cut and bright green while the flowers, which are eight cm in diameter, are solitary and borne at the ends of the 25-cm-tall stems. The flowers are single and daisy-like with 10 to 20 elongated petals radiating out from a yellow centre. The plant is very slow growing and grows in a clump.

The shoots of this plant are some of the first in our border to emerge each spring where it seems immune to late-spring frosts, and by early May the plant is in full bloom. It appreciates well-drained soil and is quite drought tolerant. In its native Ukraine it grows on sunny slopes and hillsides. I wonder if it was brought over by early immigrants from Ukraine because it doesn’t seem to be a common plant and I have yet to find a source where either the seeds or plants can be purchased. The plants do self-seed, although sparingly – it was a seedling found at the base of one of her mature plants that Mrs. Edwards gave me.

Adonis Vernalis is a sun-loving plant and easy to grow. It does not seem to be bothered by disease or insect pests. The stems can get a bit floppy and I often put three or four small stakes around the plant and use crisscrossed garden cord to support the stems; if this support system is put in place early enough the foliage will fill out to camouflage it from view. After the blooms fade, I leave the seed pods on hoping to get some seedlings. The clump of finely cut foliage remains attractive all summer.

Spring would not be quite the same around our garden without our Adonis Vernalis. It provides a bright spot of colour in the early-spring garden.

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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