Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bloom Day - January 2012

     Happy Bloom Day!

     I found more options than I expected in my garden this Bloom Day.  I didn't expect to find any fresh paperwhites.  They were blooming nicely in December, but we finally had the first hard frost and now there only a few nice blooms.  Can't be too greedy in January, though. 
     I still consider myself a beginner gardener (I won't say how long I've been in that stage, because it's too embarrassing).  I learn a lot by trial and error (mostly error).  I had assumed that paperwhites were not hardy outdoors.  Several years ago, I found daffodil bulbs sprouting in the compost.  At first I assumed squirrels or even garden fairies had hidden them there for their own mischievous ends, but it gradually dawned on me that they were my discarded paperwhite bulbs that I had forced indoors for a mid-winter flower fix.  I'm fairly sure I didn't need to see them in bloom before I figured it out ....  I moved them and they've been healthy and multiplying ever since.  The blooms are a little bit hit-or-miss, and last year they didn't bloom because all the buds were destroyed by frost.  Other years they have just waited until January to start.  This year we had a very late first hard frost and the paperwhites were gorgeous in December.  In the first week of December, I had ginger lilies (Hedychium coronarium) and paperwhites blooming in my garden at the same time.  The weather here in Southeastern Virginia always throws some exceptional surprises, and this winter is no exception.
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
     After the frost, I'm not so lucky.  I'm hunting around but finding mostly single blooms.  There are a few early blooms on the Carolina jessamine and the Quince.
     I thought Mahonia might be all I would have in bloom right now.  It's not at it's peak yet, but there are enough open florets to attract honeybees, and last week the honeybees attracted an unexpected avian visitor.  The fragrance of the Mahonia flowers is strong and perfumy, even in the cold.  I love fragrant flowers and try to stop and take a stiff whenever I go past, but the Carolina jessamine flowers that are open right now are too high up for me to reach.  They don't seem to be quite as fragrant when it's cold as the paperwhites or Mahonia.  But when the whole vine is covered in blooms, the fragrance wafts down and can be smelled by anyone coming and going through the front door.  I can hardly wait!  
Mahonia bealei (I think)

     I love Bloom Day!  If you don't know about Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, definitely check out May Dreams GardensI found it because I was searching for plants that would bloom at a certain time.  When I found the Bloom Day posts, I felt like I hit the jackpot!  Now I check it out various garden bloggers Bloom Day posts all the time, or even just do Google searches on "Bloom Day August" (or whatever month I'm stuck on) to try to get ideas what to add to my garden.  Or just to dream about a more floriferous time.  Getting out and taking timely photos of my own garden has also been good for me.  This month it was so cold that I needed the motivation to get outside. A few months ago it was perfect gardening weather, but then I needed extra motivation to take a break and actually look around!  It's because of Bloom Day that I decided to start this baby blog.  I just wish I had been brave enough in October and November when I still had lots of flowers!  
Rosemary (:Tuscan Blue")
     Another nice thing about going out to take a look is that I sometimes find something unexpected. I have a few more January blooms left to show.  I didn't think about the periwinkle or rosemary until I went out to look. 

Periwinkle (Vinca major)
     The berries on the nandina and holly are very bright and cheerful, too, and there are lots of darling little daffodil greens starting up, like Mary Lennox's "green points".  I have a large swath of larkspur sprouts that I keep daydreaming about, and a surprising amount of winter foliage on other plants as well: groundcovers, hellebores, hurricane lilies, and even sundrops.  The last photo is of a plant that I put in specifically for its winter foliage.  I'm keeping an eye on it because after I planted it I learned that it can be invasive, but so far it has not gone anywhere in my garden.
Arum italicum