Yes, Real Flowers For December Bloom Day


Not a lot of flowers, not all over the garden, but some things are blooming now, in the middle of December as the longest night approacheths.


Not just in the greenhouse either, although the large Cattleya Slc. (Pumpkin Festival ‘Fong Yuen’ x Naomi Kerps ‘Fireball’) never fails to bloom each year at this time. As you can see, the plant as a whole is quite homely and it is really much too big for my small sunroom/greenhouse. But it forms buds each fall after being totally ignored outdoors all summer, not watered or even looked at, so it gets to come indoors after the dip of death that kills any insects that have taken up residence, to brighten the winter’s wait for spring.


But wait, there’s more! Let’s go outside, for despite some very frigid nighttime temps, down into the 20s and even a bit of snow, it didn’t stick but still…


…Under a roof on the front porch, two planters have been packed with violas to help bring cheer. The blue pot is new this year, planted with a Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ to bring symmetry with the one planted in the ground on the other side, we hope. Maybe there will be a photo of purple blooms on both sides of the porch later on.


The number of violas planted this fall was doubled in hopes of an even better showing as bleak bends to bright. Some most have hunkered down, but a few are bravely blooming. They must know we depend on them for the Bloom Day posts in winter.


An experiment in the gravel garden has proven successful. I love the black violas, but they disappear in most spots, needing contrast to excel. The bronze Carex waterfall and the tans of the pea gravel seem to fit the needed contrast coloration nicely.


Up against the house at the back entrance, a self sown red clover, Trifolium pratense is bravely in bloom. It is too cold for any bees to visit, sadly. South facing protected spots in the garden provide just enough warmth for this sort of thing to occur. (And the gravel, don’t forget the importance of those warmed by the sun stones in cheating the thermometer.)


The most surprising, if not downright shocking flower is this grocery primrose, with even more buds!, growing under the birch trees along the fence. More of these are added each year when stores begin offering flowers for Valentine’s Day. The flowering primrose plants are held in the greenhouse/sunroom until early March when they are planted outside to brave the elements. They love the cold, moist soil of winter and the blooms are so very welcome. Those don’t normally show until late January or later. But the weather gods are shaking things up for everyone, it seems, so nothing is impossible anymore.


Not that surprising is the lone wolf, gone rogue Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’ flower. It is not in a protected spot, at home with many others of its own and slightly different kind in the Fairelurie where some mysterious combination of circumstance has prodded this one to produce a pretty posy. It happens.


There are stalwart subjects of the winter garden, those things that have been shown every Bloom Day in December since the blog began. The unknown mum cultivar, a passalong from dear neighbors that is referred to as the yellow button mum is a late bloomer, tall and impervious to ice, snow and cold. The outer petals are so short as to be almost nonexistent. Also in flower but not shown are a few other mums of Sheffie descent and some wild white asters. The sweetly scented Osmanthus fragrans has some flowers hidden down amongst the shiny green foliage, but decent images were not obtainable. Besides, the sharing of ratty blooms lost out to what is happening under the stand of tall Loblolly pine trees at the Eastern edge of the property.


In ground ten years and the slowest growers ever seen, the three Camellia sasanqua ‘Chansonette’, (Little Songs in French) are music to our eyes. Biblical rains in late summer fueled the buds this time, encouraging them to develop to their full potential rather than dry up and turn brown as is oft the case. The pine trees are massive moisture suckers so that while the boughs offer protection, times are tough under them.


Growing under the pines, some right up against the trunks, are seeds airlifted by the birds from the many Mahonia media growing in our neighborhood. The pointy leaves are unmistakeable as babies pop up hither and yon. We have taken to moving them closer together now for more of a mass planting after pulling them as weeds for many years. Go with what grows seems wiser than doing battle anyway. The yellow blooms of winter will give way to large blue berries that are quickly devoured by birds to keep the reproduction assembly line lubricated.


Some buds of promise were flash frozen, like this under the pines denizen, Rosa ‘Touch Of Class’


…while some buds still hold the magic. The Edgeworthia chrysantha did not bloom last year, perhaps it was the harsher winter after a droughty summer. The two small trees, also under the pines, are decorated with more of these furry animal looking buds than ever this time around. Fingers are crossed for them to fully develop.

There are many more buds showing now to excite a gardener’s heart, both outside and indoors, with a pledge to provide blooms for upcoming months of sharing on or abouts the fifteenth of each month, thanks to our friend Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Do dash over there to see what else is in flower all over the world.

Frances

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16 Responses to Yes, Real Flowers For December Bloom Day

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow, you have lots of blooms in your garden this year. Seeing those buds of promise does make the heart go pitty patter. Happy GBBD.

    Thanks Lisa. Even though there has been heavy frost and low temps, there are things still in flower. It is like playing hide and seek to find them. Happy GBBD to you.
    Frances

  2. Love your blue pot (my favorite color)! I have not seen a black viola before and I will have to keep my eye out next year. I love the contrast of it against the carex. I put an edgeworthia in my garden this year. It is full of buds (which are gorgeous) but I do hope they open. It sounds like yours didn’t last year despite having buds. I hope yours open for you this year! Happy GBBD!

    Thanks Karin. The black flowers and dark leaved plants need contrast to show up. The bronze carex and pea gravel are just the ticket for the violas. I am not sure what happened to the Edgeworthia last year, there were buds but they never opened, very disappointing! May yours give you those honey scented yellow blooms next year, and may I get a few as well. Happy GBBD!
    Frances

  3. Les says:

    You have a surprising amount going on in your garden for GBBD. I withheld my pansy and viola photos so I can show them in Jan and Feb. I love Mahonia and am pushing it on people in my company’s newsletter next month. Mine does not seed around though. I kind of wish it did. Happy holidays to you and your family.

    Hi Les, thanks. Mahonia is borderline invasive here, and like the nandinas, our neighborhood is full of them. This type anyway. I think there are native ones to this area, but they bloom later and have smaller leaves. My mailman gave me one years ago but I don’t know the name. I wish the best for you and yours this holiday season.
    Frances

  4. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, What a marvelous collection of real flowers…The camellia with the rays of the sun behind it is lovely. Fingers crossed that nothing stands in the way of the Edgeworthia chrysantha blooms! I see that the viola beauties are going to have quite a beauty show this year! xxoogail

    Thanks Gail. I love the Camellia shot, the sun was bright that day. My fingers are crossed for the Edgeworthia and other winter blooming trees to be able to show off in 2012. As for the viola beauty pageant, the images are in the vault to be presented when winter seems the most bleak.
    xxxooo
    Frances

  5. michaele says:

    What a delightful eye feast on this (for me) grey and rainy day.

    Thanks Michaele. It is grey and rainy here, as well. Looking at photos of sunnier times does lift the spirits.
    Frances

  6. patsybell says:

    Even when I think all color is gone, you bring blooms to brighten the day! Thank you.

    Thanks Patsy. There is definitely less color now, and fewer flowers, but beauty remains.
    Frances

  7. My Kids Mom says:

    My biggest surprise are the new Obedient Plants I put in. It has tender looking purple flowers and is still in full bloom. Gotta love the South!

    Wow Jill, that is fabulous! My obedient plants struggle here, I can barely keep them alive. They are touted as being invasive. Not here, but good for your blooms!
    Frances

  8. Rose says:

    Good to see so many real blooms, Frances. The camellia in the sunlight is gorgeous! Bless those brave little violas–I do have a few pansies growing in a pot outdoors, but I’m afraid mine won’t make it through the winter.

    Thanks Rose. This is the best year ever for the Camellias. I think they finally started growing, after ten years. Maybe your pansies will surprise you, I hope so!
    Frances

  9. A lovely December flower show, Frances. There’s not much going on up my way, so this is a pleasant diversion:) I don’t seem to have any luck with primrose overwintering here…I usually settle for a pot indoors. Wish I could get them to live outside year-round…

    Thanks Jan. I love the primroses and also love seeing them for sale when winter is starting to sap my enthusiasm. They do appreciate moisture and some shade. The slugs are bad about eating them to nubs, too. They love cold climates, we grew them in PA. Maybe keep trying!
    Frances

  10. Layanee says:

    I love those buds of Edgeworthia which I cannot grow so keep the photos coming. Happy Bloom Day, F.

    Thanks Layanee. The Edgeworthia is a beauty, and blooming in winter is such a plus. We are at the northern edge of its range, perhaps it was a late freeze that prevented the blooming last year. Fingers are crossed for better luck in 2012. Happy GBBD to you.
    Frances

  11. Wow! Very pretty, all of them!
    I’ve never seen a viola that dark before.
    And that rose bud! Gorgeous!
    Happy GBBD!

    Thanks Lea. That is the darkest viola I have ever seen either. Usually they are just a very dark purple. Poor rose bud, it is pretty, though. Happy GBBD to you.
    Frances

  12. Leslie says:

    So many blooms…a wonderful December Bloom Day! I love the pansy planter…they are perfect in that.

    Thanks Leslie. I do love seeing the happy viola faces when I walk out the front door. They are so cheering.
    Frances

  13. Kathleen says:

    You lucky, lucky girl! To have all these blooms OUTSIDE and that gorgeous cattleya inside. I could poke around all I wanted outdoors and uncover no such thing.
    I’m struggling with the cattleyas after becoming smitten with orchids a couple years ago (you may remember you were partially to blame for that!) I have several phals, paphs and oncidium and three cattleyas. I’ve been successful at getting all but the cattleyas to rebloom?? Trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong.
    Enjoy all your gorgeous blooms Frances!

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. Our climate sometimes allows blooms to happen in protected areas, if we are lucky. As for the orchids, I completely understand your frustration. I don’t know the secret to this particular Catt blooming so reliably. I gave up on all of the other types of orchids and now have only Paphs in addition to Pumpkin here. I remember you falling into the orchid pit a while back! We have 8 buds on the Paphs right now, several plants have 2 buds on them. Maybe I should feed them, but can’t argue with success. Good luck with yours.
    Frances

    Wow ~ you are going to have quite a show! Can’t wait to see. I wouldn’t argue with your success either. I’ve been feeding mine & it’s not helping.

    The Paphs are the most reliable. They get repotted every other year. I stopped feeding and they seem to bloom better without it.

  14. That looks like an October bloom day for me, if we take out the camellias and edgeworthias, which, like Layanee, I can’t grow.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for stopping by. Yes, there are a lot of differences between our zones! Zone 7 allows for a very diverse garden, and a real winter, but one that is abbbreviated, perfect for me, I don’t care for the cold and am ready for spring after a couple of months of it. Thank goodness those are the conditions here, it is why we live in Southeast Tennessee.
    Frances

  15. Lola says:

    Lots of lovelies for this time of yr. I have a camellia that blooms in Jan. It was a gift from Ga. I always enjoy watching the buds open to that pink flower. I also have a white flowered plant blooming that is on a tall stalk & smells heavenly. I must find the name for it. First time for it in yrs. Maybe moving it was the right area. I have one in a pot that the foliage looks the same so maybe next yr it will go into the ground. It is a strange time for it to be blooming. Seems I remember it blooming in the Spring.

    Thanks Lola. Your flowers sound wonderful. Some of these plants do seem a little off schedule, but what do we know, we are mere humans? HA
    Frances

  16. The pansy has got such a beautiful color that it hardly looks real. The above pink one is also very pretty.

    Thanks Jack? There are few things that match the pansy/viola family. The faces and whiskers make them look like sweet animals. We love that they bloom in winter here, too, but the big show will be in spring. Good things to come!
    Frances

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