First flowers of the New Year

Jim McKenney
Tue, 02 Jan 2007 14:16:50 PST
The very mild fall we've had has raised expectations for early bloom, but so
far there has been little to get too excited about here. In particular, I've
been expecting to see lots of crocus, but so far there has been very little
activity on the crocus front. 


I was away from home during the weekend and returned late yesterday
afternoon to find these in bloom: Galanthus elwesii, Colchicum kesselringii
(a second blossom, not the one reported in the recent past) and Crocus
laevigatus 'fontenayi'. There is also a bud up on Crocus korolkowii 'Lucky
Number'. Ambrosina bassii also still has a firm spathe, although I don't
know if it's actually in bloom. 


The biggest excitement comes from another large bloom of Iris unguicularis.
Most of the winter flowers are rather small or drab or in some way obviously
adapted to rough weather. But the blooms of this iris are so large and so
colorful and seemingly so fragile that it's hard to believe that they appear
in the winter garden. These flowers are much bigger than any reticulate or
scorpiris iris, in fact they compare favorably in size with the sibirica or
spuria hybrids. Such a nice spot of vivid blue color makes the eye happy at
this time of year. 


Conspicuous by its absence: Crocus imperati. 


Crocus laevigatus 'fontenayi' from Jane McGary bloomed weeks ago in a frame;
the ones in bloom now grow in a raised bed out in the open. The frame hardly
accounts for the difference in bloom time because the frame has been wide
open for months except for three nights. Last year, during another very mild
winter, this clump of Crocus laevigatus 'fontenayi' bloomed very late. 



This year the blooms on this clump of crocus are bigger and much taller than
ever before. In the past the blooms were always nestled down in the foliage,
but the ones blooming now are several inches above ground. I mention this
because this clump has been in place for years, and I thought I knew its
behavior well. 


In the house, under plant lights, four Lachenalia are blooming: L. carnosa,
L. mutabilis and two L. aloides variants. These had been outside until late
last week (except on nights when the temperature dropped below freezing);
before leaving for the weekend I brought them in and put them under the
lights. Their response to the warmth was remarkable: when I left they were
at most in advanced bud; when I returned they were in full bloom, and very


Most of the Nerine I grow are spending the winter outside again this year in
a protected cold frame. Last winter caused them no problems, and N.
sarniensis 'Corusca' even went on to bloom.  


A friend who gardens a bit west of here reports that Narcissus 'Rijnveld's
Early Sensation' is in bloom for him - but it's not for me. 


Snowdrops in general are beginning to show color, so if the mild weather
continues we may have a very early snowdrop season. 


Non-bulbous plants in bloom now include Hamamelis x intermedia cultivars
Jelena and Feuerzauber, Jasminum nudiflorum, Lonicera fragrantissima, L. x
heckrottii 'Goldflame', Helleborus foetidus, one very early flowering garden
hellebore, a sweet violet, a dandelion, the weedy Cardamine and Veronica and
one Camellia sasanqua.  



Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7

My Virtual Maryland Garden


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin 


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society







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