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Winter Aconite Appeared in both the English and American Garden of the Nineteenth Century

The weather here in New England rose to an unusual 60 to 70 degrees a couple of times this past week.

One morning I woke up to see on the lawn my favorite little yellow welcome to spring, the winter aconite. I love that flower. It just pops up. Many years ago I put a couple of bulbs in the lawn. They’ve been there growing in numbers over the years.

Winter aconite on my front lawn last week.

The nineteenth century gardener, according to Thomas Meehan, Philadelphia nurseryman and editor of Gardener’s Monthly, was unfamiliar with this plant.

Meehan wrote in his magazine of 1885: “The winter aconite. It is a matter of surprise that this lovely flower is not more common in American gardens. It is not much in love with the common flower garden, but loves to take care of itself in woods or thickets, or other places where it can go on for years without being disturbed.”

That’s exaclty what happened in my own gaden. I just leave it alone so I can enjoy it in early spring.

Meehan encouraged his readers to plant it because, as he wrote, “The yellow flowers are prettier than any buttercups and are open frequently before the snow has wholly gone away.”

English garden writer William Robinson also wrote about spring aconite in his book The Wild Garden, published in 1870 and recently reissued by Timber Press.

The winter aconite, or  Eranthus hyemalis, reminds me of a true friend, always there.

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