Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

January showers bring January Flowers

Every year, my spring flowers bring me so much joy, I can't help but beat all my friends over the head with them. Visitors are dragged out back to smell my sarcococa, admire the iris and I can never understand why they are not as giddy as I am.

I LOVE seeing things bloom in January and I am so thankful to live in a climate where this is possible. Here's a few of my favorites with some links so that you can go buy some winter cheer too. All of these start blooming in aproximately January, although in a really cold year it might be February. Follow them up with later spring crocus, muscari, winter daphne....I'll save those for a later post or email me if you are interested.

Early spring bulbs are the best thing ever. Just stick them in the ground in the fall and then wait for January. They'll last for years & years with almost zero maintenece, assuming you have somewhat decent soil. Mine is rather clay like, but both the iris & crocus have done just fine. (we did till in lots of compost first, but its still rather mucky wet soil in the winter)
Do yourself a favor and click on one of the bulb links under the pictures. These are the ones that bloom earliest in my garden. You can't buy these now, but go sign up for Brent & Becky's free catalog so it will arrive next fall and remind you to order some bulbs.
I also have Iris Reticulata 'Harmony' blooming right now, it is about a week or two later than'George', which has been going for weeks. Dry years like this are the best, the flowers last a long long time. During rainy years, they tend to dissinegrate quickly, but still you have a handful blooming each day for a couple weeks.

By the way, these particular crocus & iris that I put up pictures for, are the earliest available and it is unlikely that you will find them at a nursery. You definitely won't see them in the Lowe's bins. Actually I've seen them more and more at nurseries, but I think its easier to just order a bunch online all at once where you have a really good selection.

Hellebores Hybrid

Now that you have your bulbs, go hit the nursery, right now. My Hellebores always start poking up right after Christmas and it is so fun to watch them unfold to full bloom by the end of January. Yes, they are $12-$30 a pop, but stick them in the right spot and they are worth every penny with their cheerful nodding heads bobbing in the rain on a gray january day. They look gorgeous in a little bud vase on the windowsill too.
This one might be a bit overkill if you have a small yard, but a huge tree covered with brilliant yellow flowers - AND BEES! in January is amazing. Really, it is a small tree, reaching 12-15 feet tall & wide, but its certainly no shrub. If you love winter flowers, this one is great, and it even has gorgeous fall leaves too. It has a scent that fills our yard, but it is an odd scent. Not unpleasant, it reminds me of the old carbon copy papers and I've heard people describe it as "astringent".

This plant looks incredibley boring, but nothing compares to the sweet vanilla fragrance of sarcococa in the dead of winter. It loves dry shade & is evergreen - a very rare combination of traits in a plant - and is perfect under the eaves near a doorway. It sits unnoticed, evergreen foliage discretely hiding your foundation, until a warm day in January when its perfume wafts around the yard.
That's all for now, my daughter just pooped.