I was going to wish all a Happy New Year (which I do) but equally I wish everyone a happy new gardening experience in 2014. Our gardens are always in motion (which we can't see with our limited human eyes, needing time-lapse photography to appreciate how things do indeed change). Things obviously slow down in winter but we are lucky enough to be able to garden year round (if we choose). Chances are that calls to our family and relatives in Chicago or Oklahoma don't involve asking them how their garden is doing. The garden's repose means less to photograph and yet, when I took my camera out into the garden today to shoot my Ponytail palm for the next column, I wound up taking one more photo. Then another, and another. Somehow I wound up with over a dozen photos! Here they are, for your perusal. Personally, late December and January are fun months.The days are getting longer (slowly) and bulb shoots keep popping up, a green reminder that spring is really not that far off. The first bulbs to bloom are represented here: two colorful Lachenalias that shrug off the cold and cheer up everyone who gets a look. The other reason I love this period is that for birders this is the "high" season. The goldfinches have returned, as have northern flickers, cedar waxwings, robins, downy woodpeckers and a host of other feathered friends.
A little winter color, with purple and white pansies, a multi-colored calendula, a variegated flower pelargonium, some dianthus and a fragrant stock.
Here's the aforementioned Lachenalia tricolor. Just so colorful plus the stems are spotted. Lachenalias are one of the easiest S. African bulbs to grow, assuming you can give them a dry summer.
Primula 'Primlet Sunrise' Love the color and the way the young flowers are nestled within the protection of the leaves.
Here's my nyjer sock with goldfinches feeding. They'll stay there the better part of the day. Talk about chowing down!
Camellia 'Buttermint' Here's my early blooming Buttermint camellia. It's so much happier now that it's out of the pot and in the ground. Heavy blooming even at a modest size.
Couldn't resist posting this new photo of my Camellia reticulata 'Frank Hauser' It almost seems to be glowing with some kind of radioactive energy. I don't think I've ever seen a flower that exhibits such a rich hue. Our camellia book at work dubs reticulatas "Queens of the Camellia world" and it's hard to argue with that.
Lachenalia viridiflora. There's nothing quite like the milky blue of L. viridiflora! Ethereal yet vivid!
Quick, what plant do these leaves belong to? Nasturtium? No. They belong to a most unusual Passiflora, P. membranacea. The flowers are unlike any other passion flower vine, with burgundy bracts sprouting tubular chartreuse flowers! Alas, mine has yet to bloom! It's now year six and counting but I've been told that my patience will eventually be rewarded.
This shot of a Viburnum x burkwoodii flowerhead, as seen through a Magnolia stellata branch, offers pink buds and a couple early blooms. I suspect the warm weather has made it think it's spring, when it normally blooms. No matter, its heavenly fragrance is welcome anytime!
I was advised not to plant Lychnis coronaria in late fall as it wasn't suppose to like the winter. Mine has thrived, even sailing through that week of near freezing weather. I love the color and texture of its leaves, even before the vivid cerise flowers on this Rose campion appear.
Practice makes perfect! After repeated attempts I finally got a fabulous photo of a Salvia discolor flower. My favorite salvia (and that's saying something).
Not confused about the weather is this winter Edgeworthia chrysantha. It forms its flowerheads in late fall then slowly pops open its intensely fragrant white flowers in late winter. Though people grow it for this one of a kind fragrance, its common name (Paper bush) gives away the fact that on mature plants, the bark can be peeled and used to make a kind of papyrus-like parchment.
Okay, now, how many fingers am I holding up? In this case, I'm holding up (for your viewing) a five finger fern. A gift from my friend Sylvia, it has rooted down through the pot into the ground and established itself very nicely.
One of many bromeliads that have found my way into the garden, this colorful guy has made itself at home, offering some nice color in my 'shady lane.'