January What Looks Good Now

January 18, 2013 005 (2)
It often comes as a surprise how the sun brightens the garden after several cloudy and/or rainy, icy, very cold days. The mundane becomes the magnificent, as is the case of the artichoke and Swiss chard plants in the shining sunshine.

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Among the earliest crocus, Crocus tommasinianus ‘Rosea’ are fully open now. The grasses and perennials were just cut down, barely getting out of the way so these little darlings can be noticed. Note to self: the cut down must be done in December from now on. Several Camassias were decapitated in the chop chop and that is unacceptable.

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Crocus chrysantha ‘Gypsy Queen’ glows in gold with purple feathering. The bed mate C. chrysantha ‘Violet Queen’ blooms a few weeks earlier and has increased much more.

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Green stuff can be a source of happiness at this time of year. The wide blades of Lycoris squamigera are poking up already. Not to be confused with daffodils, these leaves will grow to about eighteen inches tall, then disappear until late July when the pink lily-like flowers arise quickly on stemless stalks.

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Sweet peas are much beloved here, but getting the seeds planted at the correct time to grow well has been a frustrating endeavor, until now. Sown last fall on September 7, the germination was almost too good as this is a very thick stand. Some wire treillage needs to be rigged soon since the tendrils are growing and looking for something to grasp.

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Happiness is brimming over at the good fortune of the germination of the Lilium formosum seeds, the planting of which was written about here.

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Speaking of seedlings, the volunteer seedling of a red leaved Heuchera has grown well, protected in a container with rocks around the stems to prevent the devil squirrels from ruining our baby. The name of Heuchera ‘Faire Piecrust’ was chosen and there have been several divisions taken.

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How the Heucheras make babies is a complete mystery to me. There are many varieties of coral bells growing here, including the species H. americana and various named cultivars of varying leaf color. The wee ones appear in the moss of the hypertufa troughs usually and are pricked out in their second year to be planted in the garden beds. It looks like there is another red leaf offspring almost ready to leave the mossy nest. Most babies look like the one on the left, greenish with some contrasting veining. The parentage is unknown, could it be an immaculate conception?

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Finishing off this sharing of the good lookings is one of the several purple cabbage plants set in containers last spring. There was hardly any growth during the warm months and there was leaf munching by the larvae of white cabbage butterflies, but the plants persist despite the cold of winter, poor things. There should be flowering this coming spring, too. They look good now. Do you have anything that looks good now?


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18 Responses to January What Looks Good Now

  1. Anna says:

    How lovely to see signs of forthcoming spring Frances with those beautiful crocuses – here nothing is looking good at the moment as the garden is under snow. Interesting to wonder where those heuchera babies have come from 🙂

    Hi Anna, thanks for visiting. So far we have had no snow, but there has been lots of rain and some below freezing weather. The garden doesn’t seem to care, and says “Onward!”.

  2. Yesterday I discovered Sweet Betsy trillium already up in the woodland (seems early, doesn’t it?). The Japanese flowering apricot has gone past, but the ‘Wisley Supreme’ witch hazel is in full bloom, and the paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) is coming on nicely. And of course camellias and hellebores everywhere.

    Wow, Marian, that does seem very early for the Trillium. The witch hazels are beginning here, as is the Edgeworthia and Daphne, making for a sweet scent as winter moves along.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I don’t have much looking so good right now. We are back in the deep freeze. Fun to see your crocus up and blooming. Seeing yours makes me anxious to see mine blooming.

    Stay warm, Lisa! We are to get the coldest weather of the season tonight into the next couple of days. The flowers and some foliage will droop to protect itself, but will perk back up when warmer times return later in the week. May your crocus greet you soon.

  4. Christy says:

    Hi Frances….The crocuses are beautiful, but the plant I love best is your Sweet Pea. I’ve tried so many times to plant them in my garden here but I haven’t been able to get them to grow. They would be so perfect for my cottage garden. Yesterday I found several blossoms on my Helleborus. They were all hiding under the leaves in the middle of the plant! It was very exciting!!

    Hi Christy, thanks for sharing. Hooray for your Hellebores. I cut back the old leaves already, so won’t have to play hide and seek with the flowers. One plant is fully open, the others are showing color and are close. Thank goodness they stay in bloom for a couple of months as the temperatures dip and rise. Try sowing the sweet peas in fall.

  5. Michaele Anderson says:

    The season of rest seems over, doesn’t it. I know I should get out there and start cutting down the grasses …especially the ones with daffodils planted at their feet.
    You should plant some of those striking Gypsy Queen crocus near your purple leaved huechera Faire Piecrust …they look like they’d be good neighbors.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for that suggestion, you are quite the colorist! There are still grasses to cut down in front here, the rain last week slowed down my work. There is nothing more aggravating than cutting of the heads of the larger bulbs. It means no flowers for this year. Must….cut….earlier.

  6. Ann says:

    Beautiful. It is so wonderful to see the new growth and blossoms in January.

    It is, Ann, January blooms are very special. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Rose says:

    So good to see all your lovely color in the dead of winter, Frances. There’s nothing much of interest in my garden–everything is shivering and hunkering down in the frigid temperatures. But I am amazed, too, by my heucheras that often retain their color even through the worst of winter. I just wish mine would make babies, too….immaculate conception or not:)

    Hi Rose, thanks for visiting. Glad to hear you have some Heucheras, they are very cold hardy and give lots of love back to their gardeners. The babies are a mystery, but a welcome one.

  8. My Kids Mom says:

    I still have one daisy, which bloomed on a mostly frozen plant just at New Year’s. More seasonally appropriate, the hellebores are lovely, my winter daphne smells great, and camelias are still at it. I noticed the flowering quince was already in bloom. I expect a daffodil any sunny day now, but I don’t see any crocus quite ready. So I have one summer bloomer, several winter bloomers and some spring bloomers all at once. Crazy Atlanta!

    Hi Jill, thanks for sharing. Your garden is similar in zonage to mine, and what is blooming does seem crazy, but maybe it really isn’t. My quinces are not even close to blooming, but I pruned them hard last fall, I like them to be between one and two feet tall and ball shaped. Cold is coming tonight, that should halt some of the blooming for a day or two, anyway. Stay warm!

  9. It’s a good thing you told me those leaves were lycoris. I had them pegged as daffodils. I second Michaele’s suggestion about the crocus and heuchera.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for visiting. The first year I was wondering what those strange daffodils were with the fatter leaves. Now I know them to be Lycoris. Michaele’s suggestion is a good one.

  10. Michele says:

    Beautiful garden. I was inspired yesterday to photograph some of my own winter interest. Edgeworthia, helleobores (one is ‘Topsy Turvy’, a very upright variety), Heuchera, our first camellia bloom on a still tiny plant! No sign of the daffodils just yet but we are always pleasantly surprised by the sweet tea olive’s intoxicating fragrance during the warm spells in our central NC location. ‘Love your blog; I take notes for future plantings in my garden:)

    Hi Michele, thanks for sharing your wonderful garden descriptions with us here. Your garden has many of the same plants we do. The tea olives are scenting the garden on these warmer, sunny days. It makes me so happy that you are getting some useful information from these blog posts!

  11. Karen says:

    It’s so nice to see your photos on “Blue Monday.” Here in Chicago, the ground is frozen solid and the temperatures have dipped below zero for the first time in quite a while. Your garden is always so beautiful, regardless of the season.

    Hi Karen, thanks so much. It sounds very cold up there in Chicago, brrrr! Cold is coming our way, but not as severe as yours.

  12. Crocuses are my favorite early spring bulb. When I was a kid there was a street corner with a big patch of crocus that I would look for each day on my way home from school. I knew spring was coming when I saw them poke up from the soil.

    Hi Jason, thanks for sharing your memories of crocus. I remember seeing them in lawns back where I grew up, too. I didn’t know what they were then, but knew, like you, that spring would soon arrive.

  13. commonweeder says:

    It is wonderful to see spring arrive somewhere. So far I’ve got a pot of primroses I ‘won’ at a garden club meeting, and some paper whites that are almost ready to bloom.

    Hi Pat, thanks for sharing here about your primroses. They are so cheering, lucky you! It might look like spring here to you colder climate gardeners, but this is winter here in zone 7, with very low temps, for us to prove it today, high 36, low 20. We are shivering, but you might laugh at that!

  14. Sweet peas and crocus how wonderful!

    Thanks Donna. The crocus are a regular in January here, but the sweet peas are cause for extreme celebration!

  15. gail says:

    What a treat to see all the loveliness in your garden. The crocus are beautiful~None are showing here, does it count when we find them dug up! Bad rodents. Keep warm and enjoy the views from your comfy chair today. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail. I am so sorry about your rodents digging up your bulbs! Grrrrrr! I will bundle up and go out today, it is necessary for my soul. Plus, I need to go to the grocery!

  16. Cardoons breaking into leaf – zoot, I am jealous.

    Hi Catharine, thanks for stopping by. The artichokes are beautiful, need to plant more of them next year, even if we never get any artichokes from them.

  17. Envious of the Heuchera seedling. I did find a few little Hellebore seedlings this week. I didn’t realize that the artichoke had green foliage during winter.

    Hi Janet, thanks. Good for your hellebore seedlings. They are just now germinating, taking two cold seasons to do so. It does seem an odd time for seedlings, but…there they are. The artichoke looks terrible at the moment after the ice storm and temps below 20. I hope it pops back up.

  18. Charlie says:

    Your pictures and information really brighten my day. Thank you for sharing.

    Hi Charlie, thanks. Your comment brightened my day.

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