Monday, December 28, 2015

After Christmas: Coneheads and other Unseasonal Blooms

The unseasonally warm Christmas we had persists. We are under a tornado watch until 7 pm. Things look scary over in Alabama on the NOAA weather radar.

Strobilanthes, usually grown for the pretty foliage has short-day blooms,
usually seen here only under glass because frost usually takes out the plants
before buds start to open.

These are partly sheltered by tall pines and escaped recent frostbite.

Persian Shield makes a good houseplant. It's fairly easy to root.
I usually have several in the greenhouse. This year I only tucked
one in the back of the pot that holds the Bromeliad tree.

Persian Shield competing with a thug, wild fern. I thought the fern died.

A last look at the little coneheads.

A ten mile-an-hour wind is blowing from the south. The sun keeps trying to peek out. The temperature is 77º indoors and out. Hardly what we expect in late December.

Sulfur Butterflies are out, nectaring on late blooming Pentas.

Julia Child rose with white Pentas

There's an abundance of tropical Shrimp Plants. I'm usually just reading about
them this time of year. Justicia betonica declined to bloom again.

I was not surprised when white Azaleas bloomed before Christmas, they 
are sensitive to just a little bit of warm air. I am surprised that pink
Azaleas have followed suit. 

Pink Ruffles Azaleas are fooled into thinking this is late February's warm spell.

When my PNW friends finally forget and leave the door open, we'll really be whining when the wind comes whistling down the plain. We're getting used to warm, now.  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Santas Found

I intended to find my ceramic Santas, I really did. I still haven't really climbed and looked. Yet.
They turned up in a photo from 5 years ago.

No telling how many years these fellows had been in a box when Michael Botts found them, stuck them on sticks and used them in dish gardens more than 25 years ago.

Since then I found boxes of even tinier Santas in a junk store in College Park. I read that they are cupcake decorations. I like them playing in a forest of foxtail fern better.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Blooms at Winter Stolstice

We had two frosty nights. Brave plants soldier on, with some cold-nipped tops. Winter is yet to arrive, despite the calendar.

Angel Trumpets, a wonderful symbol of the season but unexpected.

Exposed open Camellia blooms are easily frostbitten. Minimal shelter 
protects them. Tight buds will bloom following freezing of open, tender blooms
once the weather warms.

It's rare to have a Pentas bouquet for Christmas. Once cut, the stems will
sometimes root in water for Spring planting. I noticed seed on some of them.
Must remember to gather seed. They grew easily where spilled on the 
greenhouse. I might have luck with putting seed in a pot. 

Count on Belinda's Dream

Tea Olive likes cold.

The only White Christmas we may see is Azaleas
blooming out of season. 

Shrimp plant is tropical, but it is hardy.

More Pentas

Seedling Camellias

In fewer than 20 years, this seedling is 7 feet tall.

Loropetalum is a tough shrub. It needs room to expand.
Frost touching the fringes will turn them brown.

White Loropetalum fringes.

A froth of Sweet Alyssum outside the greenhouse door.
Inside the greenhouse are the ubiqutious Christmas Cactuses
and pots of Hyacinths with green tips showing. 
Heaters were run on the nights of December 18 and 19/

Duranta made a poor showing all summer, trying to make up for it now.

Grandma's Yellow Rose, another tough one.
White Pentas behind it.

We are under a Flash Flood Watch beginning tonight until Christmas Eve. The predicted high on Christmas Day is 83º --those with fireplaces will have to run air-conditioning. Don't laugh, I've seen it done.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bloom Day Preview: Pentas, Camellias and Loropetalums

It seemed a good day for Bloom Day blossoms in case the fifteenth is not an auspicious day.

Pentas continue to bloom in shades of pink, red and white.

Miss Julie's Favorite

 ... and a Sulfur Butterfly.

Camellias are starting to bloom after we had a near freeze. Now the weather is so mild the blooms are drying up. With so many to show, I decided just to display the seedlings.

A good example of what hybrids do. There's never been a Camellia like this, here.
It isn't a perfect flower, but the color is wonderful.

This seedling resembles one that is starting to bloom that has mosaic virus which causes the leaves and flowers to be variegated. This one is virus free, likely a seed from the virused one but the virus was not passed on.

I digress. White Azaleas are blooming out of season during the mild weather.

I bought these as Delaware White. I think they were mislabeled.

Two more seedling Camellias. Years back when I gathered and planted seeds, I paid no attention to things like pollen donors and pod parents. I can only guess which these came from. 

It took nearly 20 years for plants to grow as tall as I am and produce a substantial number of  flowers. It was worth the wait. There is a process for naming and registering seedlings. MIL's sister grew a seedling that her daughter registered with the Camellia Society, "Annie Jones" Camellia.   

Loropetalum fringes

The more prolific blooms are in early spring. This is a secondary blush.

All my Loropetalums are seedlings from Miss Billie.

"The Loropetalums with green leaves will bloom white," she said.

A look back at the darker Loropetalums through the leaves and blooms of the white. The bare trees on each side are Crape Myrtles. 

A last look at pale pink Pentas with a Skipper on the right blossom. These grow around the ankles of Angel Trumpets that don't seem to know it is December. 

Brugmansias starting a new round of bloom.

What's left for Bloom Day? Several things in white like Gerbera Daisies --another of my seedling experiments-- and white Camellias, the most romantic of flowers except maybe Gardenias. 

I look forward to Bloom Day ten days before Christmas. My Amaryllis will not have buds in time, so I anxiously wait to see who successfully forced some in time while I wait for mine. My poinsettia from last year has some tentative bracts and tiny buds trying to form. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hyacinths for the Soul

They're finally planted, in pots of one, three, four; even two bonsai pots with 6 and 7. 

Mama always justified buying a little pot of Philodendron at the grocery store by saying we needed food for the soul. She would nurture that little pot into bigger pots until the vine climbed above the mantelpiece, across the wall, over the top of the curtain rod and traveled on down toward the floor along a ruffle of organdy.

 I let my Hyacinth bulbs stay in the fridge for an extra week for lack of enthusiasm. Bits of green commenced to peek out of the bulbs and roots formed. Part of the joy of hyacinths is waiting for buds to appear and a further wait for blooms.

After I ordered off for a carefully planned group of Hyacinths in a pink to purple range from Gypsy Queen to a pretty lavender, I bought an extra bag at the big box store of mixed. Last year's mix had no blue --the above pots are from 2012. Like Forrest's box of chocolates, you never know what will bloom from a mixed bag. 

Last  year's pots. I didn't make new pics. Every year looks much the same, except for the additions. One year I tucked in graptopetalum. Last year I carefully dug moss off a ditch bank. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

After Rain: Lichens, Muhly Grass and Butterflies

There wasn't that much rain yesterday but it was a grey day and the wind blew hard, leaving the dog and me Stick Patrol today.

Picking up sticks is much more fun when the dead limbs are full of non-flowering plants. 

 I am always fascinated by the fruiting bodies on various lichens. We have abundant lichens, an indicator of clean air, they say.

I ran across and excellent guide to lichens yesterday and forgot to bookmark it.

Rain and damp days bring out other non-flowering plants. Two of my favs are Resurrection Fern and Hair Cap Moss. The metal Armadillo is the work of  Texan Bobby Varley.

Moss and Fern on a piece of vintage brick. Unintentional art.

Once Stick Patrol was done, we went to look at Muhly Grass backlit by sun.

Drops of dew glistened on the inflorescences of Pink Muhly.

Skippers were busy on Porterweed where new blooms were open.

I meant to catch this Gulf Frit on the flowers. He flitted away.

 It's the time of year when we get to see Monarchs as they migrate through. 

A Monarch and a Bee enjoyed company on Tithonia blossoms.