Today was the first day of spring, though I'd forgotten about it until the Google doodle reminded me. The bees thought it was spring, though, at least for an hour before lunch, and were all over the Japanese quince under the kitchen window and the pots of hyacinths.
Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' has popped up in the last few days. This is such a good small bulb, persisting doughtily from year to year in the gravel. It does not self seed markedly, not that I'd mind, but self seeding bulbs can be a nuisance in tidier gardens than ours. I have no personal objection to the grape hyacinths that spread themselves lavishly around part of the long bed and the railway gravel, but I know that some gardeners loathe them. The Chionodoxa has neat, starry, pale pink flowers, darker towards the tips of the petals. The wild species comes from the mountains of Turkey, and as a garden plant the cultivated variety seems tough as old boots. You might guess that from the common name, Glory of the Snow.
More Scilla siberica have emerged to my relief, since when the first few burst into flower I thought there ought to be more plants than that, but couldn't see any more clumps of leaves as I peered over the gravel. This is the Siberian squill, though it actually comes from south west Russia, the Caucasus and Turkey. Neat little tufts of green leaves, only two or four of them per bulb, surround the small flower stems, each with up to three bright blue flowers. According to my list of things growing (or at least planted at some time) in the garden I have planted three batches of Scilla siberica in different years. One patch is slightly darker in flower than the others. Somebody I used to work with at the plant centre swore by it for dry gardens, and looking at the gravel I could still do with more. It is supposed to self seed, which I'd be very happy with, but doesn't seem to be spreading by itself, so something about the gravel may not be quite right for it.
I noticed a big clump of Gladiolus tristis in one of Fergus Garrett's slides yesterday. Mine has still not opened, but the buds remain, unspoiled so far by frosts or marauding pheasants. In the greenhouse there are two fresh green leaves emerging from my pot of home saved Amaryllis belladonna seed. I do like bulbs with their capacity to come up and surprise you, and then disappear again so you don't have to worry about them for the rest of the year, except to avoid planting other things on top of them. Fergus Garrett's advice on bulbs was sound: don't go mad and order half the catalogue. Buy some and work out where you are going to plant them where they will fit in with the existing plants, then next year buy some more.