What's blooming week of Dec. 4

Jim McKenney jamesamckenney@verizon.net
Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:17:38 PST
Temperature-wise the weather here has been wonderful, especially for work in the garden. Daytime highs have been near or even over 60 degrees F, and overnight lows have mostly remained above freezing. It's now 5 P.M., the sun has set, and the air temperature is still just about 60 degrees F. For me, this is always the busiest time of the year in the garden, and this year in no exception. I've got 1600 square feet of community garden plot which I have been busily filling during the last several weeks. I really binged on bulbs for this plot, especially lilies. Most of the lilies and other bulbs are planted by now; I'll be planting roses the rest of this week. Some roses are still blooming freely in this area. This new garden space will be managed largely as a cutting garden. I'm now farmer Jim, out there on all clement days with my line tilling rows to be be planted: lots of great expectations there! The tiller has made a huge difference in what I can
 accomplish in one day.

It's been raining on and off today so I've stayed out of that new garden (sticky red clay). It's been overcast all day but hardly gloomy. Back in the home garden a form of Narcissus tazetta with white flowers is blooming in a cold frame. This daffodil  was received in 2007 and has made itself at home in this cold frame. I can't get enough of the fragrance of these plants, so it's annual appearance is something to look forward to.  And Iris unguicularis is blooming today; so far this year two different forms have bloomed. Two short day shrubs, Jasminum nudiflorum and Elaeagnus pungens are also blooming, and Chimonanthus praecox is about to. The Jasminum provides conspicuous yellow flowers (not fragrant) and the Elaeagnus provides inconspicuous papery off-white potently fragrant blooms. This Elaeagnus and Lonicera fragrantissima are, to my tastes, essential shrubs for the bulb garden because of their ability to scent a wide area. 

Three lily family plants (in the old broad sense of lily family), Ruscus aculeatus, Danaë racemosa and Rohdea japonica are providing interest with their bright orange or red fruits, and soon I'll be cutting huge swags of the foliage of another erstwhile  lily family plant, Smilax smallii, for decorating the house during the holidays.  Both Elizabeth Lawrence and Henry Mitchell sang the praises of this potentially magnificent plant, but it's still uncommon in local gardens. 

Every day I move the Worsleya plants and the Welwitschia outside so they can have another day in the sun. Last Saturday I was partying late and got home in the early A.M.: as I unlocked the front door I totally missed that they were still outside. I was lucky this time: there was no frost that night. That was a close call.

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.0º North, 77.1º West, USDA zone
My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
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Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
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Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

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