I took the pics above just before the last nor'easter in my school garden. This part of the garden is protected by a south facing wall, and things get moving there earlier than elsewhere in the garden. The daffodil is one of the early blooming varieties, probably Rijnveld's Early Sensation, though since I didn't label it I am not absolutely certain of the variety. One of the Iris reticulata cultivars or hybrids popped up with large richly colored purple flowers, right after the first of the snow crocuses, Crocus chrysanthus cultivars, appeared. However, the earliest of all spring flowers is usually the winter aconite, Eranthus hyemalis. It's only serious competition for earliest spring bulb appearance is the snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis. This cheery buttercup like flower emerges as soon as the snow melts, or even under the snow if it lies around long enough. It grows from a blackened tuber that looks more like a rock than a living organism. The tubers are often soaked before planting in the fall, though I don't think it makes much difference. Purchased tubers may not always give one hundred percent success, since they may dry out too much if not planted as soon as possible after they are recieved. Nonetheless, once they get established, winter aconites seed abundantly so that within a few years drifts of them begin to develop in gardens where are happy. In my home garden this is happening, and its a real delight to see many dozens of them appearing in random spots throughout the garden.
Right now we are entering into a five day period of exceptionally nice sunny weather, with highs in the 60's F predicted. This will bring out even more spring bulbs, and perhaps other early flowers like Viola odorata. Already I see a few hellebores in flower at home, and see buds developing on nearly all of the hellebores I grew from seed I got from Elizabeth Town in Tasmania, Australia a few years ago. They are special plants indeed, a couple of precocious white doubles bloomed last year and I see darker buds among several of them this year. There should be a mix of anemone flowered, double, and really nice singles among them, so I am quite excited at what I will find.