Winter’s Flowering

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Dumbarton Oaks to see whether the snowdrops were out.  I thought they might be earlier this year, as it has been so warm with the exception of the deep freeze around Christmas.  The guard at the entrance told me that snowdrops were indeed out near the kitchen gardens.

I looked first on the south lawn where they often bloom, but there were only a few single blossoms.  My next investigation was the flowering quince, which is so magical when it blooms that I rarely get a good picture of it.  It was starting flower buds, so I’ll go back in a few weeks to check on it.

From there, I made my way toward the kitchen gardens.  I knew the meadow the guard had referred to.  And there were indeed snowdrops, winter aconite, and a few early crocuses.  It was a lovely late afternoon and a relief to see these midwinter portents of change.

From them, I wandered to cherry hill, where I could see small buds on the cherry trees and eyed the forsythia thicket for signs of developing bloom.

It was a quick visit, but I also ran by the back lawn, where there was an installation called The Brier Patch.  Like many of the art installations I have seen here, it was thought provoking and perfectly suited to the site.  It was intended to reflect the briar patch in American culture, where one might get in trouble or find safety, drawing a connection to schools as a similar place.  A link to information on the artist and the exhibit can tell you more.  You can also search Dumbarton Oaks on this blog to see other art installations.

The Brier Patch references racial inequality and made me think of Horse by Geraldine Brooks, which I had recently read.  It is the story of the most successful race horse in history, told through modern fictional characters and historical characters from the 1850’s to the 1870’s.  It shows modern and historical racism and illuminates the history of enslaved horse trainers and jockeys in US racing.  It is well-researched and well structured, told through the different voices in different chapters.  It’s also just a rip roaring good read and I recommend it for the complexity of its characters and the richness of the story.

Cheers to everyone!  I hope you’re having a good week!

There was also winter jasmine to see in several places.
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40 Responses to Winter’s Flowering

  1. Looks like spring! At least in Maine it would.

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  2. Sylvie Ge says:

    I totally love the art installation and, also, so many good books to read, I’ve never heard of, life is too short. It may take some time for me to get this one, as our library is out of service at the moment, and until July (i suppose it will be later).

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Yes. I put it on hold in the spring or early summer and just got it three weeks ago. It’s new and has had fabulous reviews, so there were a lot of people waiting for it. Two days after I was able to pick it up, another one I had on hold (Lessons by Ian McEwan) also came available, so I had to increase my reading time, but Horse was so good it wasn’t a burden!

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  3. That top photo of the snowdrops is the Most Beautiful image I’ve ever seen of them! All of your diminutive January flowers are all the more lovely for showing themselves among the dry and brown grasses and plants that surround them. Thank you so much.

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    • Hmmm… well, I wasn’t looking closely enough… it’s not they who displayed themselves among the duller colors, but your own juxtaposition of separate pictures of also beautiful, but bare and neutral toned branches that made for a pleasing composition. So nice — even January is full of delights that you see, and show us with your camera.

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Thank you! I do love winter flowers. They have to be so hardy and yet they are so beautiful and send a message to hold on.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    This post cheered me up tremendously, Lisa! It has been gray for weeks here with little to no sun. Your photos offer encouragement that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel!

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  5. I don’t know that I have ever seen snow drops or quince out in nature. Just in pictures. They look beautiful. I’m ready for the daffodils and other pre-spring flowers to start popping up. You are lucky to get out to see them.

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  6. Burgeoning signs of spring, and an enticing book review

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  7. shoreacres says:

    Snowdrops and crocus don’t thrive here, although I hear they can be coaxed into bloom on the north side of Houston. I’ve never seen crocus blooming, and only twice have seen snowdrops: two flowers in a historic plantation garden, and a small clump under a stone bench in a cemetery in Rockport.

    I do think I’ve seen flowering quince without knowing what it was. The blooms on bare branches are show-stoppers, for sure. And of course the mention of quince always evokes The Owl and the Pussycat: one of my favorite poems from childhood that ends with these lines:

    “They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
    And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
    They danced by the light of the moon.”

    It’s a different quince, but just as delightful.

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    • arlingwoman says:

      I’ve always loved that poem and that stanza in particular. Quince are good when cooked and they turn red. They also have the most amazing fragrance when sitting on the counter like an apple. They are in and around Arlington, but I’ve never seen one quite like the one at Dumbarton Oaks, so I like to look for it each year. As for crocus, I saw them as a child in the midwest, so maybe nobody was planting them where you are up. The snowdrops likely need more cold than you get in TX. And you have enough interesting flowers anyway!

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      • shoreacres says:

        I suspect you’re right. We had pussy willows, forsythia, and such, but my mother was devoted to tulips, and probably wouldn’t have been willing to make room for anything else in her small flower area.

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  8. Amy says:

    Love the flowers that make themselves known in the winter – they bring such hope! I haven’t seen snowdrops yet but I think it is warm enough for them this year.

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  9. tootlepedal says:

    Lovely to see the snowdrops. Ours will be arriving soon.

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  10. Lavinia Ross says:

    Dumbarton Oaks looks like a beautiful place, and late winter’s transition into early spring is much farther along there than it is here. Thank you for the book review. “Horse” sounds like a good one.

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  11. Robin says:

    Beautiful winter flowers. I especially like the jasmine. I might have to look into that (planting it somewhere here). Thank you for the book review. I’ll add that to my reading list. 🙂

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  12. Hello, Lisa. There is still so much to see and explore in your neck of the woods. I’m pining for more travel. Thanks for sharing your early season discoveries. Dumbarton Oaks must be a magical place come spring. The snowdrops are breathtaking and the art installation fascinating.

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  13. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Lisa
    At ours the snowdrops are out as well. We love snowdrops, therefore we blogged about them a couple of days ago. The winter jasmine we find everywhere in full bloom in our village. Looks really beautiful against the grey flints.
    Fine photographs 👍
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  14. Oh I selfishly thought – Oh no! Don’t tell me winter is already on the way down here!

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