and a Christmas wrap up.
First things first tho because we always have our priorities in order around here! ;-)
Amaryllis 'Exotic Star:'
Another holiday bloomer.
Purchased as a fill-in for 'Papillio' which hasn't re-bloomed in over three years (squashing any notions of an "Amaryllis Whisperer" in this house...)
At least 'Exotic Star' is prolific ~ below you can see two of the three bloom stalks she generously produced:
No reason for discontent tho. Besides 'Exotic Star' and 'Cherry Nymph' (which continues to be sensational), a serious talk was had with the Clivia.
It (or rather the bloom stalk) was told to "get up out of the foliage and grow!" ha
Who says plants can't listen?
There is a believer in this house because look what happened:
A bit of a stalk! Woo hoo. More talks are planned!
Outdoors a chinook (or snow eater) wind blew throughout the day yesterday and uncovered a bit of the frozen tundra also known as our garden. Who knew what excitement a few visible blades of grass could create?? All things are relative, right?
I'm sure we'll see more of this before winter is over:
but for now a twinge of spring fever is stirring...
It's a safe bet that twinge will switch to full on "spring fever mode" after the holidays are completely over.
Meanwhile there is Peppermint Cheesecake cake to finish (recipe from the December 2011 issue of Southern Living:)
A real hardship.... :-)
And a Christmas Day mishap (everyone needs one, right?) involving the Lantana topiary I was carefully cultivating.
Completely decimated by a green-seeking puppers:
We can now testify with 100% certainty that Lantana is NOT toxic to dogs!
Hopefully it will make a comeback (in its new elevated position, safe from the reach of a certain small, four-legged friend!)
with some indoor blooms ~ enough of the frost already!
Temperatures soared immediately when buds were discovered on the Clivia.
Forgiveness was granted for its perplexing habit of blooming way down in the foliage (instead of up on a proper stalk) because who's kidding who ~ the color is AMAZING:
Bloom on ~ the perfect balm for a winter weary soul.
Attempts to cultivate a lantana topiary caused the thermostat to inch upward even more when it became loaded with buds/blooms.
Okay, maybe not so much in the above photo but look below:
If that isn't an instant tropical escape I don't know what is!
The value of a winter bloom can never be overrated ~ my northern gardener friends know this all too well.
One more thing bound to blow the mercury:
Paph Orchid 'Robert McCabe' ~ on track to be open for Christmas!
Could be the warmest holiday ever.....
(we'll just skip over the part where staying indoors is necessary to achieve that!)
not exactly where I want to be this time of year ~ I'd rather be outside ~ but we've had day after day of incessant wind. It wears on a person after a while. Today it finally got to me, I feel totally wrung out from the howling so I've stayed inside and tried to "will" it away. That's totally not working so now I'm pretending I can't hear it. Really not working either. The only other logical option is to get "lost" behind the camera lens ~ that's where the "greenhouse" comes in. So many pretty blooms there right now, we may as well make the most of a bad day:
Above: mini cattleya 'Alvin Beggman Poem' with yellow spotted phalaenopsis.
Below: White Phalaenopsis with Streptocarpus 'Blue Ice:'
'Blue Ice' again with 'Black Panther:'
and finally the latest addition, cattleya BLC Greenwich 'Elmhurst:'
Believe it or not, I "think" I'm done adding orchids to the collection. I know it's early to be making a serious declaration like that, but I feel forced into it because I'm running out of space. Unless of course, something extravagantly drop-dead gorgeous comes along to change my mind!
My first purchase of the 2011 gardening season. I've never had a weeping tree of any kind even tho I've long admired their graceful drooping forms in other gardens.
What finally pushed me to quit admiring and take the plunge was noticing how crazy the bees were for the fuzzy yellow blooms. I knew I'd like to have something to illicit that kind of early activity in my own garden. Sure enough, it only took 30 minutes for "my" bees to discover it upon arriving home.
They've been swarming it every warm day since.
Right now, I don't have a spot in mind to plant it so I'm thinking of putting it in a large container. It stands no more than 4' high but according to the tag, will max out at 6' in height.
Otherwise, the garden is still faithfully returning to life. New blooms show up every time I stroll around although that hasn't been often since we've experienced a lot of ferocious wind this spring. When I do venture out, I wait until evening, hoping the wind will have eased up (but that certainly hasn't always been the case this year.)
Here's what I've managed to capture in-between gusts:
Hellebore 'Blue Lady'
Striped Squill (Puschkinia libanotica)
Primula denticulata opening in more colors.
In the "greenhouse" Streptocarpus 'Blue Ice' is blooming:
I feel like 'Blue Ice' is the lucky one since it doesn't have to endure the large temperature fluctuations like the outdoor blooms. This past Saturday we were 80 degrees ~ plants and bulbs were almost popping open before our eyes ~ then Sunday snow returned, followed by overnight low temperatures dipping to 19 degrees. That was harsh. A gentle warming spring (versus a roller coaster) might be nice but who am I to make requests when the bulbs are weathering the elements just fine?
My bathroom/greenhouse is virtually a hothouse right now. I have two orchids almost ready to bloom, numerous Amaryllis bulbs with buds and now my Clivia has opened. I absolutely don't need another thing for Christmas (unless it's those amazing owl ornaments I posted yesterday!!) ;-)
For some reason, taking great pictures of the Clivia blooms is a challenge for me (seems like I get a lot of glare?) but here's the best of what I snapped yesterday.
The orange & yellow color combination makes me feel like I'm in a tropical paradise somewhere.
That's a great feeling in the middle of December!
I really believe (I said this last winter too) that I have a much easier time getting thru the cold winter months since I've added so many winter blooming plants and bulbs.
Last year, they had barely finished blooming when the early spring bulbs started. It looks like I am on track for a repeat this year. That could be a credit card commercial for gardeners:
Blooms all winter. Priceless!
December is starting off with a bang as far as buds and blooms go. All indoor, of course (because of my gardening zone) but we northern gardeners take what we can get, don't we?
The most exciting of todays bunch was finding a bloom stalk on one of the clivias! I can thank Tina for that since she left me a comment about hers that sent me scurrying down to the basement to check mine!
Yellowed from lack of sunlight but thrilling nonetheless, especially because the buds are on a stalk instead of blooming down in the foliage (like last winter). Earlier than I expected to find anything too since they were just hauled down for their dormancy period the first of October (along with the Amaryllis).
Two Amaryllis were also brought upstairs ('Fairytale' and 'Elvas') when bud stalks were discovered on them during that same inspection. Boy oh boy ~ it's looking good for Christmas color!
Buds have also begun to form on the paperwhites:
Just planted two weeks ago ~ they sure are the quickest bulbs to bloom, aren't they?
Almost instant flowers ~ who could find fault with "warp speed" growth like that? (even if the fragrance is marginally acceptable in this household)
Finally, remember the African violet (name unknown) I showed you recently that was covered in buds?? The buds have been transitioning to blooms, making for a pretty show in the bathroom/greenhouse:
These spots of color during the winter totally feed the soul. If you're a gardener, I'm sure you know what I mean.
Big note to self: Remember to check plants/bulbs in basement often ~ there may be surprises waiting!
Now that it feels decidedly winter-like outdoors, I am (forced) to turn my attention indoors. Happily I cannot complain about "bloom withdrawal" since there are many buds/blooms, in the makeshift greenhouse, to occupy me during what otherwise could be a depressing time. I thought maybe you'd like a preview of what's in store for the blog in the days to come?? You would?? Great! Come with me...
We'll first look at the buds on my unknown African violet (bought impulsively last spring when I was desperate for a bloom of any kind):
Thankfully, I have not killed it! Remember the flowers looked like this:
The petals remind me of spun sugar frosting for some reason?? Anything that looks that good is welcome to rebloom as often as it likes!
Next to the African violet is Streptocarpus 'Black Panther:'
I've had this plant for several years now (and posted about it a couple of times too). Wonder of wonders, it repeatedly blooms for me. A fabulous thing since the flowers are extremely fetching:
Wouldn't you agree? I think about repotting it off and on but haven't had the courage. I'm too afraid to mess up my luck!
Moving right along.
I finally tired of cleaning up dried Hoya blossoms (in my bathtub below the birdcage) and switched out the Hoya with a Lophospermum scandens 'Red Dragon' plant I brought in from outside.
Not the best photo, for sure, but you get the idea.
Lophospermum is also known as Asarina (and formerly as Maurandya ~ at least that's my understanding?) The common name is "twining snapdragon." I usually buy this vine for an outdoor container just as I did this past summer. Unfortunately, it just sat in the container, showing little to no sign of life until I brought it indoors. Now it is growing, almost before my eyes, and has developed a number of buds.
The buds often face downward, making it difficult to fully appreciate them, but hanging as they are in the birdcage, they are much easier to enjoy. This is one plant I hope continues to do well thoughout the winter. You'll know if it does, by the number of times it's pictured in upcoming posts!
Now, if you've read my blog at any point during the past two winters, you know what's coming next! Yep, an Amaryllis! This one is 'Zombie' ~ not far from blooming:
I'm always afraid of scaring people away by posting so many pictures of them but the sheer numbers are truthfully what help me survive the long winters.
That and my growing interest in orchids.
Like the paph above with a developing bud. I think I have eleven various orchids now?? A couple phalaenopsis, three cattleya's but more paphiopedilum's than anything else. If the trend continues I will seriously need a greenhouse and/or a twelve step program...
I know the focus this time of year is usually on outdoor blooms but I just have to share the "bounty" going on in my greenhouse bathroom right now. It just wouldn't be right to keep it to myself. First the $6.00 clearance Phalaenopsis Orchid (bought two years ago) opened it's first bud today on the new bloom stalk:
A closer look because you knew I couldn't resist:
Two slipper orchids remain in bloom ~ the one my brother sent me from Hawaii and 'Pine Knot' that I recently shared with you:
They look striking paired together, don't they?
Something else blooming profusely is Streptocarpus 'Black Panther:'
What a great little houseplant. It must thrive on neglect because I pay it almost no attention and yet it rewards me with a bevy of blooms. What's not to love about that scenario?
Last but not least, an African violet (name unknown) picked up on a whim at Lowes:
I bet you can guess why it ended up in my cart?!!
Tomorrow the amaryllis are being moved outdoors for the summer. I haven't told them yet, but I'm sure they'll be excited! :-) While I'm out there, I'll be sure and photograph the garden. It seems like it's been a while.
You know how you think you have a brilliant idea then it goes totally awry?? That recently happened to me (just so you know things aren't always coming up roses around here). I thought I had found the perfect solution for my growing orchid collection ~ a three tier corner stand that would conveniently fit around my bathtub and organize the paphs. Here it is all neatly arranged:
I was so pleased with myself for "cleaning" this area up and freeing up room around my tub. I watered all the orchids, set them on the stand then went about my business. Big mistake. Probably even a novice houseplant grower knows not to place plants so close to a glass block window. Never occurred to me. My beautiful paph 'Raisin Pie' (after only one week in its new position) was totally getting sun scalded:
I am sick, sick, sick about it. I hope it recovers. Remember how gorgeous this orchid was?
I definitely do not want to lose it. Needless to say the stand has been moved but it doesn't look nearly as nice now as it did in it's intended corner position. What is that they say about the best laid plans? At least the little orchid "Alvin Beggman Poem' didn't seem to be affected. He continues to put out more buds and blossoms ~ here's the latest:
Moral of the story, leave well enough alone!