What will be the first plants out of the snow? The answer is a native plant generating so much heat that it melts the snow around it in order to emerge — Eastern skunk cabbage!
In fact, a pollinating fly is attracted to the pollen in the emerging skunk cabbage “flower,” and from there, our bluebirds flock to feast on the flies. What a beautiful testament about how we are all interconnected.Not far behind skunk cabbage are the Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, hardy little, white-flowered bulbs that are very long-blooming. I’m told that if you want to divide or transplant snowdrops, do it while they are in bloom!
Helleborus niger, the white-flowered Black Hellebore often called Lenten rose, is another very early bloomer. If your hellebore is sporting tattered, browned leaves, simply cut them off so that new green leaves can quickly develop. I enjoy looking for this plant in the protected outer courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Peek through the windowed door of the Chinese gallery to see the hellebores growing just outside. There may be some snowdrops blooming there as well.