What's in bloom

Mark McDonough antennaria@charter.net
Fri, 27 Nov 2009 13:16:54 PST
To borrow from Jim Jones' characterization "there are only hints of color outside in this suburb of Boston", I'll use it as a springboard to compare notes.  I live 35 miles NW of Jim, close to the New Hampshire border.  We're in the same general temperature zone, although low temperatures in winter typically average 8-10 degrees F colder than Boston.  So far we've had several hard killing frosts followed by milder temps, a fair autumn so far.

Only a few plants are worthy of mention as providing late garden color now.  The first is Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'.  While it has actually finished flowering, I took a photo in the rain recently showing the haze of orange stems topped with pink-purple dried remains of the flowers, leaving a welcome smudge of color in the landscape.


Another item that caught my attention, is a bright red fruit head on Arisaema heterophyllum, still ripening.  It is unique for two reasons, my plant is a giant version, growing over 6' tall (2 meters), and while I have two flowering plants, it has never successfully produced seed in 7 years I've grown it, yet I've longed for seed all these years to increase stock.  The other item to note, it is rather late for Arisaema "fruit", all my other species shedding ripe seed at least a month or more ago.


As to plants actually still flowering, there isn't much, even Corydalis lutea seems to have given up its quest to take over the world by perpetual flowering and seedling.  The contest for last plant flowering in this New England garden rests between just two plants, Cyclamen purpurascens, happily flowering since July yet with no end in sight, and a non-geophyte, the fantastic native Aster pilosus (Symphyothrichum pilosum), known as Hairy Aster or Frost Aster.   In fact, I recently drove by a local colony of plants in Devens, Massachusetts, hoping to collect seed, but many of the plants are still in full flower, the season of bloom varies and includes extremely late blooming sorts which can be selected for.


Two Aster photos taken just before Thanksgiving, during a few moments of sun breaking through the otherwise dreary misty days.  What I can't share with you, is the enticing scent emanating from these aster blooms on mild days, particular when it is sunny, like that of vanilla butter cookies.


I don't have a greenhouse, but on a basement windowsill, Nothoscordum montevidense is blooming; cute little yellow cups.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border, USDA Zone 5

---- pbs-request@lists.ibiblio.org wrote: 
>Message: 2 
>Date: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 19:04:43 -0500 
>From: jmsjon664@aol.com 
>Subject: [pbs] What's in bloom 

>There are only hints  of color outside in this suburb of Boston -- the 
>odd flower of Viola odorata and Primula polyanthus, Spiranthes odorata 
>(but will it last the winter?), and the fading heads of Coreopsis 
>helianthoides -- but the greenhouses are going strong, with several 
>kinds of Camellia, Erica caniculata, Grevillea thelemanniana, Othonna 
>carnosa, Oxalis carnosa, hirta, lobata, and rubra, Nerine bowdenii 
>stefani, Rosmarinus officinalis, Amaryllis belladonna, Romulea 
>autumnalis, Schlumbergera. Narcissus 'Nylon', Lachenalia rubida, and 
>Saxifraga fortunei that was brought in for seed set.  These all find 
>the environment of a cold (quite cold) greenhouse compatible. 
>Jim Jones 
>Lexington, MA  

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