Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – February 2008

Text and photographs ©Nancy J. Ondra

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'There’s not a whole lot to show for Bloom Day here in southeastern Pennsylvania. In the past month, we’ve had highs in the 60s, highs in the 20s, thunderstorms, ice, and gusty winds. Between noon on Tuesday and late afternoon on Wednesday, we ended up with almost 4 inches of liquid precipitation, in varying forms of sleet, snow, freezing rain, and non-freezing rain. Considering all that, it seems a true miracle that there’s anything blooming.

Above is a potted clump of ‘Ivory Prince’ hellebore in full bud. It spends very cold nights in my cold frame but its days outside, so it qualifies as an outdoor almost-bloom. Below is purple-flowered vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Washington Park’ [‘Purpurea’]), which has been in bloom for about a week now.

Hamamelis vernalis 'Washington Park' ('Purpurea')

The blooms below are from branches that I brought indoors about a week before January’s Bloom Day. They finally opened a few days ago, rather later than I expected. Still, the ‘Kumson’ forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) branches are a cheerful sight.

Forsythia viridissima koreana 'Kumson'

And though the white blossoms of winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) are tiny, the fragrance is very noticeable: not unpleasantly strong, but pleasingly light and sweet. I wish you too could smell them.

Lonicera fragrantissima

11 responses to this post.

  1. I wish I could smell that honeysuckle, too. And after seeing so many posts of witch hazel, I need to figure out where to put one in my garden. Does yours have a scent?

    I think I’ll cut some forsythia to bring inside today. It will probably bloom about the same time as it does outside, at this point, but it will be nice to have a flower inside, anyway.

    Thanks for joining us for bloom day!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

    Wow, you’re quick, Carol! If you have room for only one witchhazel, I wouldn’t choose this one; so far I haven’t detected any fragrance. Yellow-flowered ‘Arnold Promise’ is much better, in my opinion. Enjoy your forsythia!
    -Nan

  2. We can smell them, Nan, we just close our eyes and lets are imaginations take over! MMMMMMmmmm, very sweet and spring like. We have many all white hellebores here, they just don’t have a catchy name like white prince. I often think they take any variation in flower color, give it non patented name and voila, a star is born. I am going to start naming all the hellebores here, let’s see where shall we start?

    Frances at Faire Garden

    I know what you mean about the proliferation of names, Frances. At this point, there aren’t very many named hellebores, since they’re slow to multiply by division, and there aren’t many in tissue-culture (yet), as ‘Ivory Prince’ is. But sure, go ahead and give yours whatever names you’d like! Perhaps a faerie theme would be appropriate?
    -Nan

  3. Sounds like you had most of the same skygunk that we did, Nan…now all the world around is a glacier here, and I have a highly crabby horse kicking his stall walls in the barn. It’s not safe to get him outdoors! Do your alpacas go out when it’s icy? I know the llamas up the road don’t like wet, windy weather, but they seem content to be outdoors in most anything else!

    Oh, yes, been there and done that with crabby horses. I don’t envy you. I’ve found the alpacas to be much more sensible than horses weather-wise (though less so in other aspects). They come indoors when it rains, or if it’s very windy. (Having a rather narrow “wheelbase,” they seem to have trouble staying upright in strong cross-winds.) Their feet are pads, with much less traction than a shod hoof, so navigating ice is pretty much a no-go for them. Except for short but perilous forays out to their “litter box,” they’ve been content to hang out at the barn, eat, sleep, and ruminate.
    -Nan


  4. I just planted a winter honeysuckle but it isn’t blooming yet. However, almost all the flowers in my garden that are blooming right now are white. The entire time I was writing up my GBBD post, I kept thinking of your article for Gardening Gone Wild.

    Hi mss! Every year, I plan to shovel-prune the winter honeysuckle, because it’s pretty ugly as shrubs go. But this time of year, I remember why I keep it. And you notice that it too is white!
    -Nan

  5. I wish I had some woody stems to bring in and watch bloom as the days go by. I hear flowering quince is supposed to put on quite a show.

    Purple witch hazel! Someday I should like to see and smell a witch hazel in real life. They appear to be quite rare where I am.

    Seriously, Chuck – compared to what you have in your own garden, you’re not missing much. Thanks for reminding me of the flowering quince; I should try that next. I do hope you get the chance to smell a good witchhazel at some point. It’s kind of odd at first, but it grows on you!
    -Nan

  6. I’ve never seen/smelled witchhazel either. Love those blooms–like big purple spiders!

    Too right about the spidery appearance. They look ominous in the photo, but in reality, they’re only about 1 inch across; not very scary. You may not have witchhazels, but I believe you do have their close relatives, the loropetalums, which we generally can’t grow this far noth (mid-Zone 6).
    -Nan

  7. I don’t think I’ve smelled Witchhazel, either. But smelling almost anything that would remind one of Spring would be pretty exciting!

    Wonder what would eat Hellebore? I investigated mine for potential blossoms and found many leaves had been “nipped.” hmmm.

    Could be deer or rabbits, I’d guess, Shady. According to the “experts,” critters aren’t supposed to bother hellebores. But no one told the critters that! I hope the little buggers leave your flowers alone, at least.
    -Nan

  8. Purple flowered witch hazel, never have I seen that color. Unusual.
    I’d love to grow some winter honeysuckle, I bet it smells heavenly. I adore winter flowers, they always have the most amazing scents.

    Thanks for visiting, Silvia. And thanks too for reminding me to go outside and see if the sweet box (Sarcococca) is in bloom. Its flowers are hardly visible from more than a few feet away, but the scent is fantastic.
    -Nan

  9. Posted by DragonFly Garden on February 17, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I can wait to see your bloom day pictures of your garden in the summer.

    And thanks to you for returning the visit, Rusty. I’m enjoying your variety of blooms right now!
    -Nan

  10. Absolutely love the forsythia. I sure do miss it!

    Kate, after reading about the problems you’re having with your blog, I wish I could send you a whole bundle of blooming forsythia to brighten your day. I hope you get things straightened out soon!
    -Nan

  11. We keep meaning to cut a few branches of forsythia and maybe lilac. Maybe if I make a note I’ll remember tomorrow! I’d love to smell those winter blooms of yours. Looks like you’ll have hellebore flowers before too long! Yah for blooms of any kind! :)

    The winter honeysuckle just keeps getting better as more blooms open. And you’re right: I peeked under the hellebore leaves today, and sure enough, the flowers are coming!
    -Nan

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