Flowering now

Jim McKenney jamesamckenney@verizon.net
Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:15:32 PST
There is not much of a floral nature to report from my Maryland garden. I've been waiting to make this post until I could announce the one big event: the Algerian iris, Iris unguicularis, finally began to bloom yesterday. In most recent years it has started in November, often mid-November. But this year it's late. Although the plant is hardy here, it requires cold frame protection to mature flowers successfully in most years. It's worth it: those big blue flowers are really stunning. 
A Galanthus elwesii elwesii form I call 'Thanksgiving' is in bloom now, too. It too was late this year and did not begin to bloom until two weeks after Thanksgiving Day. Another one I call 'Christmas' has yet to appear. There is no sign yet of a very variable group of G. elwesii in the lawn - usually a few of these are up by now. At the site of a collection of snowdrops in the back garden, there is so far no sign of green above ground.  
At my community garden plots a group of Galanthus elwesii is in full bloom. This group (probably clonal) came from a friend's garden years ago; it's a handsome one where the normal two spots have fused into a broad green band. This one is very dependable about blooming in early winter.  
A careful check of the various cyclamens here turned up nothing, not even a bit of bud color. But the variation in the leaves makes any time spent with these a pleasure. Helleborus niger, not a geophyte, is ordinarily in full bloom by now - this year, there is no trace of bloom yet. 
Woody plants showing at least a few blooms: Camellia sasanqua (loads of blooms), Elaeagnus pungens (a few blooms, very fragrant up close) and a yellow-flowered Hamamelis near the end of its blooming period.  

Other monocots of seasonal interest: Rohdea japonica (foliage and fruit), Arum italicum and other Arum, Danaë racemosa, several forms of Ruscus aculeatus, R. hypoglossum,  and the very hardy palm Rhapidophyllum hystrix. There are two of these palms, one was planted about twenty-five years ago, the other maybe ten years ago. Smilax of several species including big plants of S. laurifolia (twenty feet up into a crepe myrtle) and S. smallii (smothering the south side of our house), and S. pumila in a  cold frame all do their part to give this garden the feel of a "southern" garden. The only bamboo I have in the garden, the small Shibataea kumasaca is very handsome now. 
If you look closely, you can make out yellow on the buds of Jasminum nudiflorum - but I saw no fully open blooms. 
Jim McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where even the Christmas cactus is late this year - it's full of buds, but so far not one flower is fully open. 

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