Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bloom Day February 2012

Happy Bloom Day!
     I'm joining Carol at May Dreams Garden for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, when garden bloggers share what's blooming in their gardens on the 15th of each month.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's flowers.  I took these photos a few days ahead of time since the 15th falls on a weekday and there's not enough daylight in February for me to have time to take photos on a weekday.  Good thing too, because the next day was a dusting of icy snow that weighed down these blossoms and made them a bit less photogenic.  
     The best new bloom for February is a Hellebore:
Helleborus niger
     This is the only open bloom but there are also lots of buds getting close to opening.  The buds are well hidden inside a lush mass of evergreen leaves.  This bloom was easier to photograph than I thought it would be though.  I think the flower stem continues to lengthen between the bud and bloom stage, probably to protect the buds from those icy dustings of snow.
     The first daffodil opened on February 1st.  It's companions thought it was a bit too forward, and haven't quite ventured out yet, but soon will.
Narcissus, probably "Carlton"
     Around the same time, the first grape hyacinth bloomed and is still open.  This seems very early to me and I don't expect to see any others for quite a while. 
Muscari armeniacum
     Once again, I found a surprise when I went out to look for blooms for Bloom Day.  I was not expecting a summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum).  The common name of this bulb is not particularly apt, to be sure, but this is the earliest bloom I've seen on it, and it's not in a very warm spot.  I won't look a gift horse in the mouth.  I like them anytime, and am looking forward to the big groups of them I hope to have later in spring.
Leucojum aestivum
     All of what was blooming in January is still blooming now at about the same pace except that the paperwhites are over.  There are still flowers on the mahonia and rosemary and a few early blooms on the Carolina Jasmine.  There are probably more periwinkle (Vinca major) blooms than last month.  Among them I found another surprise.  This bloom has four petals instead of the usual five.  Once I noticed four-petaled periwinkle blooming all over the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  Yet, I've never seen a four-petaled one in my garden before now.  It was the combination of the purple periwinkle and the burgundy leaves of the nandina that caught my eye, although I don't usually go for burgundy and purple together.  Both Vinca major and Nandina domestica drive me nuts in my garden, all-too-prolific remnants of a previous owner's penchant for planting invasive thugs, still causing never ending heartache and backache at least 10 years after they were planted ... but I still enjoy the color they have to offer.
Vinca major (bloom) and Nandina domestica (foliage)
     In another spot, I have a problematic color combination.  Last year I noticed that the hot pink flowers of the flowering quince clashed horribly with the bright red berries of the nandina.  I should have moved the quince (or cut down the nandina -- I have plenty!) but didn't.  But how confusing... when the quince first started putting out a few flowers this December, there was no problem: they were a perfect match to the nandina! What's causing the flowers to change colors?
Chaenomeles japonica (bloom) and Nandina domestica (berries), Dec. 2011
    I previously had noticed that when I cut stems and forced the blooms indoors, they were a much paler pink, but I was still surprised to see the color change from year to year on the shrub itself.  It must be due to the amount of light it gets, right?  Maybe, but now I have noticed that the current February blooms (fresh blooms, not faded December blooms) are hot pink again. 
Chaenomeles japonica, February 2012
And here is a shot from 2007 when they were an even lighter pink.
Chaenomeles japonica, January 2007
Has anyone else noticed this?  Any other theories about what affects the flower color?