It's raining. Again. I shouldn't complain, but good grief--it's rained for MONTHS now! MONTHS, I tell you! Endless rain and gray skies and dreary, dark days. We've enjoyed freakishly warm weather, which is teasing our poor plants, causing them to excitedly start showing off their spring attire. Then--BAM!--it's 22 degrees, and winter gives our sweet spring buds an icy cold shoulder. Poor plants. Poor gardeners, stuck inside, rushing out between rain drops to photograph the early blooms and search for a hint of spring.
Thank goodness for winter flowers, and thank goodness for May Dreams Garden's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, which reminds us to search out and appreciate blooms each month. What would we do without our ever-faithful hellebores, camellias, and indoor blooms? Although the season seems stark and barren, a tour around the garden and house finds plenty of blooms to brighten a gray winter day.
The camellias began early this year...
...but this week's cold snap left them looking a little...mushy. No fear, I won't share those images with you. I'm all about providing only pretty petals to chase away the winter blues today!
Hellebores...ah, my loves. Truly, is there a flower that can make me swoon in the dead of winter? Yes. Every single sweet hellebore in our garden makes me crouch down, lift their little shy heads, and investigate the freckling or interesting patterns and colors within.
I began with five hellebores in our garden more than a dozen years ago, and now hundreds of offspring spread throughout our shady beds. I love them. When we fantasized about how we'd spend our $1.6 billion Powerball winnings, I opened the Plant Delights Nursery catalog to the hellebores pages and told Peter I planned to buy every single gorgeous variety. Sadly, I think I can only afford about two now.
(Any hellebore breeders out there that need a gardener to trial your new introductions? I'm your girl!)
Along with our tried and true winter blooms, we had some early surprises:
Kristen's birthday tree, a cherry, is covered in blooms.
Snowdrops began peeking out, earlier than I've ever seen them.
The greenhouse offered some early surprises as well.
Usually, our citrus trees bloom in January.
And in exciting news, we enjoyed our first homegrown orange!
Fraise des bois produces throughout the year, but I've never had blooms in December and January.
Here's hoping for sweet strawberries in February in time for Valentine's Day!
Ornamentals in the greenhouse also surprised.
This gorgeous 'Chatty Cathy' hibiscus from J. Berry Nursery continuously blooms in the greenhouse, adding a lovely burst of cheer.
Of course, we gardeners always hedge our bets. In case our gardens fail us in the winter or the weather is exceedingly harsh, we make contigency plans to keep ourselves surrounded by blooms. My friend Dee Nash at Red Dirt Ramblings always grows a lovely collection of hyacinths, and I'm stealing her idea to start sweet peas and lilies-of-the-valley in the greenhouse. (Shhh...don't tell!) Seriously, though--why have I never thought to grow lilies-of-the-valley inside? I adore them.
I've grown a tad obsessed with amaryllis bulbs. However, unlike most gardeners who plant them in time for holiday blooms, I purposely pot them up to bloom post-holidays. Christmas decorations add plenty of cheer to December. It's now, in January, when I need that burst of happiness.
'Sweet Nymph' provided that bit of giddiness this week.
While I anxiously await the other 13 amaryllis blooms (plus still more to pot up), paperwhites provide almost instant gratification.
Honestly, throw them in a shallow dish with some gravel and water, and within weeks the house is filled with their sweet fragrance. I'm planning to start more bulbs this weekend to enjoy the blooms and fragrance throughout the next few months as the first batch fades.
Of course, houseplants can always make a dreary day feel a little cozier. In fact, the day our oldest son and daughter left to move across the country to Seattle for his new dream job, I indulged in green therapy.
I had a lot of feelings that needed tending, and new houseplants are cheaper than drugs or therapy. (Especially when most of the plants were 30% off.)
Among my new green babies is this:
The blooms of Lipstick Vine are so charming, each delicate little flower a burst of happiness. My green stash is still occupying the breakfast nook, while I try to find cute, not-too-expensive containers for their new home on the plant ledging in the living room. Any suggestions?? I do love Crescent Gardens' containers, but they aren't available in stores here. Yet.
The rain is still steadily pouring outside, but now that I've spent some time revisiting my blooms for Floral Friday, I feel better.
I think it's time to bring out the seed catalogs and start planning the spring garden.
What blooms are you enjoying for Floral Friday?
Stay warm, friends!