Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bloom Day, February 2009

I've been doing this for over a year now, and since gardening is cyclical, is stands to reason that there would be numerous repeat appearances in a blog post such as this. I'll try to avoid some of the more obvious suspects that are blooming right now, although they are incredibly welcome. Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' (a cyclamineus hybrid) and 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' are fully open in clumps all over the yard, and I'll try to restrain myself from posting too many Helleborus x hybridus, although I counted nearly 100 plants in full bloom yesterday with lots more in bud. Above is Camellia 'Debutante', which, along with Magnolia soulangeana, stands as one of the very finest of the brown-flowering woody plants in our area! We had bathroom wallpaper festooned with very similar flowers in the early 70's, so there's something oddly attractive to me about these blooms, even after they've been trashed by a freeze.
Chaenomeles japonica, another remnant of my grandparents' garden, and badly in need of thinning and pruning.
Aucuba 'Gold Dust' has produced its first berries ever, which surprised me, since it's a female clone and there are no males that I know of in the neighborhood. Les has promised to hook my single girls up with "stud service" via a male known as 'Mr. Goldstrike' later on this spring.

Arisaema urashima started breaking dormancy in the garage, so had to be brought inside to flower way ahead of schedule. I hate taking pictures (and growing plants, too, for that matter) inside!

I think this is Crocus tomasianus, which is ubiquitous, but with good reason. I like the way it pushes up through this clump of Christmas fern every February.
After years of trying, I'm finally having some success with Cyclamen coum, but only in very large, well-drained containers. I've partnered them with tree peonies, to which excessive summer watering is also anathema. While hederifolium does fine in the ground, this one, with its very desireable flowering season, rots away with the least bit too much moisture here. It's encouraging that these tubers have begun to reseed themselves. This one is almost unphotographable, but it's the more common crimson color variant of C. coum.
Daphne odora is another great plant which makes one wish for a "scratch and sniff" computer screen, but responds to poor drainage by kicking the bucket (watering can?) immediately.
Speaking of scents, that of Euphorbia characias 'wulfenii' is an acquired taste - pretty similar to skunk in an enclosed area. It's another plant that requires better drainage than I can provide in the ground, so its huge clay pot gets hauled into the garage on nights when the temps go into the teens. I have to admit to sort of enjoying the smell, but then, according to scientific studies, there are those who become stimulated by the aroma of sweaty male baseball players, so who knows which olfactory receptors this Euphorbia is causing to fire off in my increasingly befuddled brain? Probably best not to go there.

If I could bring myself to shell out $145 for Snowdrops: a Monograph (not that I haven't seriously considered it...), I might be able to do a better job of sorting out my Galanthus species and varieties. This one came to me as elwesii, so I guess that'll have to do for now.

The snowdrops below are distinct from the others I grow in having shiny, green leaves. I've had them forever, and don't remember the source. Perhaps ikarae or plicata? Any ideas appreciated!
Just a couple of Hellebore pictures - these really are my favorite plants, hands down, and I did an extensive post on them last year about this time or a little later. This one is close to something I've been working on - a chartreuse base color with picotee edging. If it were a Cattleya hybrid, it would be classified as an "art shade."
I'm not as crazy about the doubles as some are, but this is a nice, pure pink, probably from Pine Knot stock originally.In recent years I've gotten more and more excited about H. niger and its hybrids. Container or raised bed culture seems to eliminate problems with drainage and humidity tolerance. The first below is "Winter Moonlight", a tissue culture of a form developed by the Tylers at Pine Knot Farms (which is where I'm hoping to be for a while in about two weeks.) Judith says it originated from a failed hybrid between H. niger and argutifolius, which normally produces H. x. nigercors, another very garden-worthy grex for this area - those are spent blooms from a clone of it in the background of this photo, as a matter of fact.

This is a plant I've had for about ten years, supposedly descending from the famous
'Potter's Wheel'. The size of the blossoms supports this connection, and the best thing is that it tends to rebloom in May, when the flowers are less likely to become spotted due to the interaction of cold temperatures and moisture.
The first bloom of a plant originating in New Zealand, I think, called 'Winter Magic'.

Here's a "color echo" for you - Paphiopedilum 'Mem. Larry Heuer' blooming in front of a Mahonia in full bloom. Okay - it's a cheat - I just couldn't get a decent photo of it in the kitchen window. It's a primary parvisepalum hybrid, combining emersonii and malipoense.
Not yet in bloom, but grown mainly for foliar effect anyway, is Trillium underwoodii. It amazes me how early these break dormancy every year, yet seem to revive completely after every hard freeze they endure. In the greenhouse are lots of begonias, orchids, and gesneriads in bloom right now, but that's probably not the point of this exercise. Not much to report right now, so I'm headed out to tackle some serious pruning chores; I've done one rose ("Graham Thomas"), one Hydrangea, and one Arbutus so far - only a few dozen more to go. It beats working on taxes, which is really what I should be doing right now. All I can say is that I sure am glad it's February; it's amazing how much a couple of hours of sunlight (even if it's chilly out yet) can do to ameliorate the symptoms of my seasonal affective disorder, aka "cabin fever"!


Les said...

I nearly spilled my drink when you talked about the very finest of the brown flowering plants in our area. After posting it to the world, I guess I better come up with Mr. Goldstrike this spring (should be no problem). I have thing for Euphorbia 'Wolfenii', but they have never lived long enough for me to notice a fragrance. Although I am not usually a white person (but I am a white person) I really have come to appreciate the pure white Hellebores. Looks like you have a lot going on. Happy GBBD.

Jeff said...

Les, you're a hoot. No pressure re. the aucuba - it's mostly an excuse on my part to stop by the nursery sometime. I love that place, and always have. The Euphorbia's always iffy for me, too, but I take cuttings every year and keep a couple of small ones coming along. I have this mental image of the big bank of them next to the front door of "Howard's End", but I know that'll never happen here. Good to hear from you!

queenofseaford said...

Good morning Jeff. I continue to learn of different varieties of Camelias. Debutante is very interesting.
I will leave you and Les to figure out the stud service of your aucuba -- too funny. Cyclamen in containers...good thinking. After my dogwood died the cyclamen were no longer seen. I also enjoyed seeing the double Hellebores, nice.

Cosmo said...

Hi, Jeff! I love your hellebores (well, I love it all, but I really love hellebores). I'm SO impatient for mine to bloom--can it be THAT much colder here? It looks like you have a ton as it is, but Sandy's in Richmond has more cultivars than I knew existed--just in case you ever want a new one. I really love the brown camellia, too--only wish I had one (mine are still in bud--I'm feeling like I'm in some gardener's version of the Twilight Zone--like, Twilight Zone 5 or something--has to be a way to do that cleverly but clearly I'm not there yet . . .)

zephyr said...

Wow! that brown camelia is a stunner! Very cool. i hope i remember to tell Ken to come take a look. He is so into all things amber, caramel, aka brown.

Loved seeing all these spring things. It must be coming soon to us too.

Jeff said...

Thanks Janet, Cosmo, and Zephyr - it's good to hear from all of you. I have to ask, though - y'all do know that camellia is only brown because it was flash-frozen, right?I didn't mean to set anybody off on a quest or anything!

Cosmo, if you really want to see Hellebores in every form imaginable, you should meet me at the Pine Knot Farms open house in Clarksville on Feb. 28. If you go to their website there's a description of the event along with directions.

Cosmo said...

So that's what "LOL" is for! yes, Jeff, I knew the camellia was frozen--when I said I wished I had one, too, I meant I wish mine would hurry and bloom. Ok, Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville--let me grab Phillip and I hope we see you there!

Cosmo said...

Hey, Jeff, if you're checking your blog, we are going to head to Clarksville on Saturday--are you taking the last train? Seriously, what time do you think you'll be there?

Jeff said...

That would be great, Cosmo! I'm taking the earliest "train" I can catch - there are always people lined up to get in at 10, and I want to see what's there at the beginning. I was wondering how you'd find me, except that I do have a picture on the blog...duh... I'll study Phillip's pic, too, and maybe we can find each other. If nothing else, I'll be driving a blue Ford Focus wagon with a bike rack on the back. Sure hope to get to meet up with you guys there!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Jeff--I think we'll find you from your picture. I have a red cowboy hat I'll try to remember, and we're planning on an early arrival. Thanks for letting me know about the festival!

Jeff said...

Ok, Cosmo - I'm really looking forward to meeting you and Phillip there. On top of everything else, I've just found out that I'll be playing Jean Valjean in a community theater (!) production of "Les Mis" later this spring, so I'm going to spend the drive time learning music. I'll be the guy barreling down 64 belting out "2-4-6-0-1!" - let's hope it doesn't all end in a fiery crash. And remember - what happens at the hellebore festival (in terms of credit card expenditures...) STAYS at the hellebore festival!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Jeff. I'm looking forward to meeting you, too--Phillip's not coming, unfortunately, but I'm bringing his partner Jack along. My email, by the way, is if you want to contact me there. Cool news about Les Mis!