Since it’s been a cold couple of weeks leading up to this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day it’s appropriate to share this image of the first flowers of Gymnospermium albertii working it’s way out of the alpine bed. A month ago we had lots of flowers popping out but many of those have been blasted by the colder weather ever since the Christmas holidays. The G. albertii come from the rocky hillsides of Uzbekistan and have no particular problem with cold weather. That’s why they are one of the few outside plants with flowers to show this month.
The witch hazel is often in flower in January and the first of those are showing now.
And the snowdrops persist even with the temperatures that have been down to 15°.
Otherwise the outside is many full of potential. In particular the Hellebores are just on the edge of opening their blossoms.
For other flowers we need to turn to the greenhouse. The small daffodils have been quite nice and one of them, Silver Palace, is coming back for a second go round.
Many oxalis continue too, including Oxalis versicolor.
The little False Yellow Crocus has a brilliant color to start each day in the greenhouse (only fully opens when the sun is out)
One of the nice surprises this week was to see big fat buds on the Scilla peruviana.
This was gift several years ago and it looks like it going to have a full set of its big purple flowers. These are marginally hardy in our area but the last two winters did in the outside plants. Stay tuned for these in full flower.
If Wordsworth had been here this morning he might have been inspired to compose ‘I came down the stairs and saw a pot of golden daffodils’. Perhaps it doesn’t have the same poetic zing, but nonetheless it’s a wonderful way to start the day.
This is another product of the greenhouse which is my go-to place in the wintertime. Beth captured a nice picture of the greenhouse against a winter sky the other day.
Every day provides some new delight from the small bulbs and seedlings that populate the greenhouse. This week it’s the Babiana curviscapa that has been living over the kitchen sink after coming into flower in the greenhouse.
Also in the greenhouse is the False Yellow Crocus which is well ahead of last year’s flowering.
And the double yellow blooms of Oxalis compressa are pretty dramatic.
Outside there had been numerous things blooming, for example this Algerian Iris
And this Arisaema was jutting upwards.
However they all got hammered with 15° temperatures on Monday night.
It looks the focus will be on the greenhouse for the near term…
Who would have imagined that we would be looking at cherries in bloom for christmas, but it has been that kind of year. All over the downtown of Frederick you can see the cherries and plums starting to bloom. The extra heat of the city is popping these plants that are supposed to bloom late March or April. Fortunately our trees (except for the camellias and quince that I’ve already posted) are mostly just hanging back, not wanting to be fooled into spending their spring flowers ahead of time.
However, I did see that the Gentiana acaulis that I coaxed into growing on a piece of tufa rock in the front garden has put out one very large flower bud, almost ready to open up.
Unlike the Gentiana paradoxa that a I posted a few weeks ago, this one is a spring flower, with glorious blue blossoms, normally in late March/early April.
The Daphne odora along the driveway is often an earlier bloomer and its flowers look ready to appear.
Another flower that is among the early spring contributors is the Primula vulgaris and indeed the first of these blossoms is now showing.
But one that has me completely surprised is the Jeffersonia dubia.
This is part of the spring ephemerals but definitely not of the first to appear. Nevertheless it is out now buds with several more buds looking ready to pop.
So as we begin the new year, it’s worth quoting from a letter that E.B. White wrote in 1973 – ‘Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.’
Peace and Joy — jw
Well for this December’s Garden Blogger Bloom Day you would be hard put to find any indication that winter intends to show its face. Not only is the red Japanese Quince fully in bloom but the bees are all out to take advantage. I watched them collecting pollen this afternoon and they went mostly into the closed buds. My guess is that there were so many bees around that they had already cleaned out the open flowers.
There are many other plants that are pushing the season. The Christmas Rose continues to flower up a storm…
And the two early flowering Camellia japonicas are also putting out new flowers every day.
The first snowdrop is fully open at this point.
And the Pineapple Sage continues to hang on with its brilliant red blossoms.
In addition there is a Calendula that won’t give up on the season.
Rather more remarkable right now is the Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ which is showing both lovely rust colored fall leaves combined with the white flowers of spring.
The first flowers on the aubretia in the alpine bed are also coming out now.
In the greenhouse the little hoop daffodils have been coming out.
I think I definitely need to divide the bulbs in this pot next year.
I’ll close with the third pot of Daubenya stylosa that has flowered this year.
It will be interesting to see what this warm start to the winter portends for January and February…
So far this December is looking more like October. We have yet to experience a real killing frost and many things are still flowering that should definitely be dormant by now, including the lovely gentian pictured above. Two of the Camellia japonicas are in full flower.
Not surprisingly, the usual harbingers of spring are in flower, both the snowdrops and helleborus niger are blooming.
Nevertheless, I pretended winter was coming and planted another 200 daffodils in anticipation that spring will come with all it’s profusion next March.
From the greenhouse we have freesias and daffodils right now, but I wanted to close with this pretty amaryllis relative
The flowers are a wonderful pastel with an almost waxy texture. I enjoy exploring all the bulbs that come by way of the Pacific Bulb Society‘s exchange program.
It’s been a wonderful fall here in Maryland. Sunny days, cool nights, and no hard frost yet. That has allowed some of the flowers to pretend that it is spring. In particular, one of the Camellia japonica hybrids often gets a jump on the season.
Last year a lot of the Camellias got blasted going through the winter. I have hopes for a better showing this spring.
Another early showing is the small Daphne at the foot of the garage.
This one, like many Daphnes, has a wonderful fragrance.
I was surprised to find a Bottle Gentian that had self-seeded in the garden quite about 20 feet away from the nearest source.
I’m not as fond of the Bottle Gentians as I keep waiting for them to open there buds, which never happens. But most any flower is welcome at this season.
I need to give credit to the little Wallflower that basically blooms the whole year.
Tricyrtis also have an extensive bloom time, just about the whole fall season. Beth found that they also make a nice cut flower.
I was particularly delighted with the Fall Crocus this year. ‘Conquerer’ is still in bloom for us.
Make a mental note that we need more Fall Crocus next year. I interplanted them in the grass with Ajuga and Starflowers. It looks like they all get on fine together.
I can’t resist showing more of the many Oxalis that are blooming in the greenhouse right now. In this case I’m choosing the semi-folded stage before they fully open for the day.
So this the state of affairs in mid-November for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. I’ll close with a sunset from the back pasture.
Oxalis species have wonderful variety in both flowers and foliage. There are more than 800 species altogether, most from South Africa. One of the characteristics that I’ve seen in most of the varieties that I’ve grown is a strong responsiveness to light. Both flowers and leaves can be responsive to light, but the unfolding and refolding of the flowers is particularly lovely to watch. Rather than just opening and closing they actually twist at the same time so that when closed they take on the aspect of a very tight cylinder.
To illustrate the process I made a time-lapse video of Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’ over a 4 hour period one morning in the dining room.
The flowers come to life as they greet the sun each day. Notice the untwisting.
Here are some of the other Oxalis that we are enjoying right now.
If you are interested in Oxalis I suggest a visit to Telos Rare Bulbs. Diana Chapman, the proprietor, has an exquisite collection of Oxalis (among many other bulbs).
Another south african that is fully open right now is Polyxena ensifolia.
So many buds packed into a very tight space.
One other item to mention today is the arrival of Daubyena stylosa. When we were visitng the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last Thanksgiving I noticed a marvelous Daubyena Stylosa plant in full flower. It was the first I had ever seen of that species. However I had just that august planted a few seedlings that I had obtained from a Pacific Bulb Society exchange. And now the first flowers have arrived on one of those seedlings.
We’ve had a wonderful extended Autumn with many clear sunny days. On one of them last week we took a morning walk along the C&O canal. This national park is only 15-20 minutes from our house. The overall park is essentially a biking-hiking-running trail that extends 185 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. Noland’s Ferry is at the 45 mile point along the trail and is a broad leaf-strewn walkway in this season. There are other parts of Frederick County that are lit up with color this time of year, but along the canal it’s mostly greens turning to yellow. Nonetheless one of the joys of walking is noticing that which is not visible from car or bike. We walked about 2 miles down the trail towards Washington and then returned, moving at a pace that encouraged observation. Even at that pace we noticed things on the return part of the trail that we had missed on the outgoing trip.
Some of the most striking elements were fungi. The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus looks like a waterfall frozen in time.
The Jelly Ear Mushroom is said to be good to eat, but we limit ourselves to puffballs (which we have eaten many times).
And then there was this very phallic white mushroom which I’ve not been able to identify.
Along the trail was a very tiny snake, about the size of a worm. It seems likely this this is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake. They do have babies in the fall but they are not very big in any case. It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects. On balance that’s the kind of diet I can appreciate.
There were two interesting fruiting plants that we noticed. Spicebush is a smallish native shrubby tree that is found in wooded lowlands. It has plants of both the male and female persuasion so it will be interesting to return in spring to see if we can identify them.
And the Eastern Wahoo is another small native tree that has what seem like packages of pink candy hanging from its branches.
The leaves had not yet turned but like its relative, the Euonymus alatus, the Eastern Wahoo should have strongly colored red leaves.
At one point we looked up and noticed a tree with remarkable orange foliage. At first I thought sugar maple, but that is not common with us at all. When I got home and did a little research, it was pretty clear to me that what we saw was Black Maple. This is a close cousin to the Sugar Maple and as many of the same positive attributes. It would be worth trying to propagate in our forest.