Posted on 32 Comments

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – February 2009


Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

As tempting as it was to once again resort to fake flowers, I figured that even those of you who found it humorous last month wouldn’t be as amused a second time. So this month, I’m going totally legit, and all I have to show for it is two different blooms. One is pictured above: the same Erica ‘Golden Starlet’ I’ve shown for three months now. She’s starting to look a little ragged, but you have to admire her tenacity. And then, there’s a new one making an appearance this month…


I can walk right past this purple-flowered witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Purpurea’, a.k.a. ‘Washington Park’) many times a day without even noticing that it’s in bloom. It’s supposedly fragrant, but I’ve never noticed any scent, nor have I seen any purplish tinge to the foliage that some sources describe. It does get bonus points for always being the first flower of the new year, though. And, it’s pretty cool-looking up close.

Soooo…that’s it for me. Except…ah…can’t resist…must add…a few more beautiful blooms from the greenhouse at Linden Hill Gardens. Yeah, they’re indoors, and no, they’re not even mine. But you’ll cut me some slack, won’t you? It’s been a really looooong winter.


Now, see, that’s not so far out of season, even though we generally don’t get to see white-flowered grape hyacinths (Muscari botryoides ‘Album’) blooming next to phormiums here in Pennsylvania. And if we were another zone or two farther south, it wouldn’t be all that far-fetched to have paper bush (Edgeworthia) in flower for February. It’s supposed to be very fragrant, but I don’t notice much scent from this one.


And I’m so starved for color that even this blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is welcome. (Yes, Boss, I just admitted to liking blue.)


There’s also a pretty pink oleander (Nerium oleander) blooming its little heart out.


And this very cool Echeveria peacockii:


And finally, a preview of the vibrant colors of warmer days: gloriously chartreuse Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Fen’s Ruby’ with a coleus. Ahhhhh, that’s nice!


In the spirit of thinking spring, a public service announcement for any of you in the Delaware Valley area who don’t already belong to the Hardy Plant Society/Mid-Atlantic Group: They’re getting the word out about their annual spring event, March Into Spring XIII: A Symposium for Gardeners. It’ll be held on Saturday March 21, 2009, from 8:15 am to 3:00pm at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA. Speakers include nurseryman Don Shadow, owner of Shadow Nursery, who will talk about new and unique plants; Rick Lewandowski, Director of the Mt. Cuba Center for Piedmont Flora, on environmentally responsible choices for garden practices; Jenny Carey, Director of the Landscape Arboretum, Temple Ambler, on creating a luxuriant mid-Atlantic garden with no additional water; and Gregg Tepper, Woods Path Gardener at Mt. Cuba, on the sensory appeal of native plants and their unique characteristics. There will also be a book sale, silent auction, and plants for sale! You can download a registration form at the Hardy Plant Society web site.

And, for everyone, remember to visit the other Bloom Day posts too. You can find the links at the February GBBD announcement at May Dreams Gardens.

Posted on 32 Comments

32 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – February 2009

  1. Hiya Nancy,

    You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you how you did that last month: superimposing one picture on another is something I would love to try, but don’t know how. Is it PSP you use?

    Pink Hamamelis? Lovely.
    So are the others, whether in your own garden or not.
    I’ve gone all sober this months, and I miss the colour.Thank you for yours.

    Joco, are you accusing me of faking January’s fake-flower shots? They’re real images, with the silk flowers stuck into the garden. Honest!

  2. Hi Nan, slack cut. :-) Your blooms are wonderful, in your garden or at Linden Hill. As for the witch hazel’s fragrance, I didn’t notice Diane’s until we had a warmer day, but sticking my nose right into the flower could detect aroma on colder days. That may be a problem in PA, hope you get some warm weather to check it out!

    Thanks, Frances. I don’t recall this witch hazel having much fragrance even on warm days. But maybe it’s because I simply forget to take the time to sniff when it’s nice out. I got my nose as close as I could yesterday without actually inhaling the petals, and there was nothing.

  3. At least you have the witch hazel to show. All I have to offer this month are the Snowdrops and I have already pictured them on my blog so it is a Yawn… Love all those blooms from Linden Hill too. They make me think it won’t be long.

    I’m getting jealous of eveyone’s snowdrops! There’s absolutely no sign of mine. Well, hopefully we’ll both have something new to share by next month.

  4. Give your Edgeworthia a couple of weeks, they still look tight. When they open your nose will know before your eyes will.

    Ok, thanks, Les. I thought I noticed the scent last week but none this week. As you say, they just need to open more. Something else to look forward to!

  5. These are good days to go to a local greenhouse to see some blooms. There are blooms starting to show outside, but we still have a few weeks more of winter. Thanks for brightening up bloom day with the greenhouse blooms!

    We do what we must to uphold the Bloom Day tradition, Carol. If the mice hadn’t been busy here, I might have had some bulbs to share too, though not nearly as many as you do.

  6. The Erica and witch hazel would be welcome additions to my garden, where there is nothing in bloom! The photos from Linden Hill really make one anxious for spring–one of these days… Thanks for sharing!

    Now I feel guilty for whining for having just two. I hope you have some flowers of your own soon, Rose.

  7. Nan, Was I ever excited to see a named H vernalis! I must get that beauty…I have several species and named one Bernice after my mom! You won’t notice the scent until the days warm up a bit and then get ready; it is heady as can be! Lovely blooms in and out of your garden~~gail

    Check out the Hamamelis page at Fairweather Gardens for ‘Washington Park’, Gail. They have a fantastic selection of others, as well, and they send great plants.

  8. WOW you really have it going on! Thanks.

    Well, not *that* much going on here, Helen, but I appreciate your kind comment. Happy Bloom Day!

  9. Lovely! I love that Witchazel. I haven’t seen that particular variety before but you can bet I’ll be trying to find it.

    Thanks for visiting, Cynthia! Do consider getting it from Fairweather Gardens; I left the link in Gail’s comment.

  10. Nan,
    I am in witch hazel heaven. What a find Fairweather Garden is…Thank you for the link, well, maybe not;-) I could use my entire garden budget on the witchhazel pages! Gail

    Would it be cruel of me to share another fantastic source for witch hazels: Rare Find Nursery? Yes, probably. But they too sell superb plants!

  11. That witch hazel is gorgeous. I only have the two natives and both are a fairly non-descript yellow in person, though they photograph well. Winter does just keep dragging on ….

    I like the yellows best, I think. I had the chance to buy some beauties on sale last fall but didn’t get them, and now I really regret it. Well, I hope spring comes soon to your corner of the world as well as mine.

  12. I love the color of the blooms of your Witch Hazel. In floral speak, they do look kind of purple. I wish I had room for more Hammamelis.

    It looks more reddish purple from a distance – or I should say, from eye level. It was just a twig when I planted it six years ago, and it’s barely 30 inches tall now, though it has bushed out quite a bit. I still have to kneel down to get a good look, and that’s when the pink underside is more apparent.

  13. Nan, its seems it has been a long hard winter everywhere. Here in the north west of England, well the bit I live in rarely sees significant snowfall, but we have had much lower temperatures and more frosts than usual. I am sure that we will all be more appreciative of spring when it finally gets going. I loved your witch hazel – I have just treated myself recently to ‘Jelena’ . I really enjoyed your greenhouse tour. Are you a regular visitor there ?

    Welcome, Anna! I did hear that your weather too has been difficult this winter. Our plants are at least used to being frozen, but unusual frosts must be very difficult on plants that aren’t accustomed to them. And the greenhouse? It’s at the nursery I work at. Most of the plants in there are just boarding with us for the winter, but it’s a pleasure to spend time with them.

  14. Yes we are definitely ready for spring. I’m resorting to weeds and you’re taking photos of nursery plants! I really wish our witch hazels were doing something. I’m sure one of them would have had the deer not had the munchies. Oh well, gotta take the good with the bad!

    Right, Dave, we could be like the poor folks who still have only snow. It makes even henbit look good!

  15. That witch hazel is really something! And thank you for sharing the beautiful blooms from Linden Hill Gardens. Love te blue of the plumbago and the pink of the oleander.

    I’m sure you have many more blooms in your garden, kanak – and I think I heard that you have some butterfly shots too? I’ll be over for a visit soon.

  16. Thanks for the lovely blooms, even if they weren’t all yours or outdoors.

    Thank you for stopping by, Sue. Happy Bloom Day!

  17. Lovely blooms Nan – I don’t care where they come from – we all crave colour at this time of the year don’t we: ;)

    Thanks for your visit over at mine and your lovely comment at Blotanical. It’s much appreciated.

    My pleasure, VP. I’m hoping that we too will have snowdrops and eranthis by next month.

  18. Hi Nan. Love your witch hazel tree. Spring is coming, I promise!

    Good to see you again! Yep, the days are getting noticeably longer, and the sun is higher. If the cold would just let up a bit, it would be easy to remember that spring’s not far away.

  19. Nan, All is forgiven. If i lived in the Delaware Valley, I’d be visiting all the incredible public gardens you have there, too.

    Thanks, Daniel. We really are lucky to have so many great gardens in the area. But at the moment, even they don’t have much in the way of blooms!

  20. Nancy, I completely forgot to purchase some fake flowers after last month’s post! Can’t believe it. ;-) (Perhaps I still should, as we could still get a lot of snow…) ;-)

    Oh, definitely you should. Silk flowers never go out of season, do they?

  21. That purple flowered witch hazel is absolutely amazing. My witch hazel has not yet bloomed.

    I hope you do get to enjoy some witch hazel this year, HG. I’ve noticed that neither our ‘Arnold Promise’ nor ‘Jelena’ have many buds this year, even though they both flowered normally last spring.

  22. Nan, your Erika and Witch Hazel are two that I’d like to add to my garden. I like them both just for the early blooms!
    Those perky little white muscari are so pretty :)
    I’m glad you showed us some of the lovely bright blooms from the Linden Hills greenhouse. Every bit of color is welcome to our winter weary eyes!
    I didn’t force bulbs this year because, like yours, the mice ate most of them last year. The hyacinths were spared because the little beasts don’t like them. I wish I’d potted some last fall. Ah well, there’s always next year.
    Thanks for the colors, Nan, and happy Bloom Day!

    Happy Bloom Day to you too, Kerri. I’m thinking I need to get more ericas for next winter. They’re easy to overlook during the growing season, but they sure are nice for winter color (when not smothered by snow).

  23. I had never seen witch hazel until I started participating in the GBBD. I think it is the coolest looking plant! I always imagined it being a little shrubby, bushy plant, not much to look at, but boy was I wrong!

    It *is* cool, though nothing in comparison to the awesome-looking plants you have in Hawaii. Thanks for visiting!

  24. Nan: That is a gorgeous witch hazel. I find that they are really a bit shy until you get right up in their face. Love all your blooms!

    Thanks, Layanee. “Shy” is a good description of the darker-colored cultivars, at least from a distance. But up close, wow!

  25. Hey Nan! Love those echeverias. And I confess, my snowdrops are in bloom here at Hawk’s Haven–I finally saw the first blooms Friday. Hooray! Thanks so much for the pitch about the Hardy Plant Society’s March into Spring. Don Shadow! What a trip. Wonder if he’ll talk about his animals, too?

    I imagine he will. I know you’re a big fan of his!

  26. I’ve never heard of witch hazel growing down here but it is a very useful plant for treating inflammations of the skin. I am reduced to buying the kind from the pharmacy bottled with isopropyl alcohol, so it’s not comestible. However, apparently witch hazel itself is edible and can be made into a tea.

    You can grow loropetalums, though, I think, and they’re neat too. I don’t know if they have any useful properties, however.

  27. Nan, I can’t blame you in the least for including those photos from Linden Hill. At least you get to enjoy all those blooms while you work! That’s gotta be pleasant. I can almost smell what it’s like in the greenhouse.

    But Jean, you have *real* blooms outside! That trumps a greenhouse, I think.

  28. Great pictures. Love the witch hazel it’s been on my list for a couple of years. Maybe I’ll get one this year.

    I’ve got to get myself to a few greenhouses to get the gardener juices flowing. I should leave the credit card at home but you know that’s not gonna happen.

    Hi Marie! If you need some greenhouse air, you could sign up for the Horticultural Chat Room at Linden Hill in Ottsville this Saturday; you’re not far away. You can find details at the Linden Hill site.

  29. Nan, What a beautiful witch hazel. I had no idea there was a variety that bloomed in that color. My GBBD post has NO outdoor blooms, but I’ll bolster my post when the Smith College Bulb Show comes along.

    Thanks, Pat. Enjoy the Bulb Show; it sounds wonderful!

  30. I really love the color of your witch hazel Nan.

    This time of year, I’ll take bloom anywhere I can find it! A trip to the greenhouse is just the ticket.

    There *is* something special about greenhouses, especially this time of year. I can’t wait to start sowing seeds!

  31. Anyone who has witch hazel has no reason to show plastic flowers. I really do long for one, though fear our winters are not quite right.

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for the reminder that I ought to consider myself lucky. I promise I do! I’ve been paying old witchy much more attention since Bloom Day.

  32. I noticed someone else commented that they’d never seen witch hazel until reading GBBD posts…well, I’m in the same category Nan! I think my first introduction came from visiting Frances! Now, I just love looking at them. If I could think of the right spot in my yard, I’d love to have one…but I’m not sure that spot exists.
    I loved your tour through the nursery. I haven’t ever seen, nor heard of, Echeveria peacockii, prior to your post! What an interesting bloom that is!
    I had to resort to buying a bunch of colorful indoor houseplants because I was going stir-crazy with no color outside! Unlike some other Virginia gardeners, my daffodils haven’t even popped up yet!
    I enjoyed your GBBD post!

    Hey there, Jan. I agree: Frances’ images of her witch hazel (‘Diane’, if I remember correctly) are incredible. I don’t blame you for investing in some houseplants to get you through the next few weeks. Then hopefully, we’ll both have some outdoor color besides white and brown.

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