Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Counting the Days Until Spring (62!)--Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

It's coming. 

Only 62 more days of dank, gray, depressing nastiness.

I know I shouldn't complain. After all, we sweated on Sunday, with the temperatures hitting mid-70s.
And I know you northern friends are rolling your eyes at me. I remember those lovely days of -50 degree wind chill and salt-stained boots. 

If we'd just have a little burst of sunshine, I wouldn't complain. I promise. 

The grayness and the rain are just making me feel...moldy. Lethargic. Sluggish.

Still, I know spring lurks just out of reach.

Look what I found!

The first snowdrop! Isn't it the most cheerful little bloom? I adore its lack of pretension. I especially love how easily you can miss the secret little green heart hidden within. Do you see it?

Closely followed by the first snowdrop, the hellebores began their lovely display. Thank goodness for hellebores. In the midst of the oppressive grayness of January, when everything is bare, dank, muddy, and stagnant, hellebores quietly unfurl, providing the pop of color and bit of hope winter gardeners crave. 

What a work horse. 

Particularly in our shady gardens, hellebores provide lovely color, as well as year round interest with their evergreen, serrated foliage in zone 7b. 

Plus, from the five original plants I purchased approximately 10 years ago, we now have more than 100 hellebores scattered throughout our shady yard. I'm often tempted by new, stunning hybrids when I browse through some of my favorite catalogs, but these originals always remind me that newer isn't always better. (Although, after reading my friend Helen Yoest's article in Country Gardens magazine about Pine Knot Farms hellebore nursery, I'm secretly drooling over the lush fields of flowers.)

I've also seen hellebores used in many of the trendiest floral studios, like Saipua. If you need a dose of sheer, awe-inspiring beauty, check out Saipua, as well as Floret Flowers. These women produce amazing work. 

I need a flower farm. Sigh.

As I tried to get a better angle for the hellebore photos, Oreo decided she needed some love. 

She really is part dog. Truly, how many cats come when called, stand on their hind legs to be petted, and follow you to the bus stop? (Just don't tell her I called her a dog.)

My love affair with fraise des bois continues. Mid-January, and look--blooms. We'd still be eating berries if we hadn't experienced two weeks of freezing evening temperatures earlier this month. Everyone needs fraise des bois in their gardens. Yes, you do--trust me.

The daffodils are ready to pop. Is there anything more cheerful than daffodils? My mom used to buy a 10-stem bunch of daffodils from the grocery store for $1.99, just to brighten the kitchen table. When I began working, I always kept a vase of daffodils on my desk during the sad Chicago winter. Daffodils make me happy.

New to the garden last fall, the witchhazel buds are about to burst. I'm excited to see how it performs, plus I can't wait for its fragrance to grace the garden.

One of my favorite fragrant bushes is winter daphne. We're often warned that daphne is temperamental when planted in garden beds, so I chose to plant ours in containers near the front entrance. I'm anxiously awaiting its sweet, welcoming greeting. It's so close, I thought for certain it would be blooming in time for GBBD.

Patience. Not my strong suit.

Kristen's cherry tree continues to bloom...and bloom...and bloom. A few flowers here, a few there. It's been non-stop since autumn, but just piddly little blooms. I envisioned a cherry tree overwrought with blossoms. Lesson learned. This photo is a good example of how dreary the days are--nothing but gray.

I'm excited about a few new blooms added to the garden. Somehow, I never planted hardy cyclamen in our shady garden. What was I thinking? I definitely needed to rectify that mistake.

Not only do the blooms add a nice pop of winter color, but the foliage is showstopping. 

The tea olives continue to do their duty, offering a bit of fragrance from their diminutive blooms.

While I scouted for blooms along the pool, Sugar came looking for a treat. Poor girls, their run is a muddy mess after today's rain.

Our edibles continue to produce well. I thought the mushroom logs would be dormant for a bit, but we're still harvesting mushrooms regularly. I need to bump up my mushroom recipe repeteriore.

Ah, camellias...they never disappoint. While they've already put on their big show, a few encores remain.

On New Year's Eve Day, our family visited a local nursery, where we all received coupons toward plants and merchandise. Mikey selected a camellia, which he insists must be planted right outside his window.

I'm negotiating. If I plant it right outside his bedroom window, it will be in the middle of boxwoods and azaleas. 

Not exactly ideal. 

Of course, our gloomy days always get a reprieve with pansies and violas. Their cheerful little faces brighten January days. I've loved pansies since I was a child, except that we planted them in the spring when we lived in Indiana.

Our typically cheerful blooms looked tired today, drooping under the weight of rain.

The violas, though, still provide a burst of perkiness.

As I've mentioned a time or two, I'm a hopeless failure with house plants. However, I'm determined to keep alive the two lovely orchids I received for Christmas from my family. 

I will. I will!

I do manage to keep forced bulbs healthy throughout the holidays, at least. 

Paperwhites are so simple to force, and the variety I purchased had a nice, subtle fragrance--not the typical sickeningly sweet scent.  

And finally, finally...my amaryllis bulbs began blooming--yesterday! Just in time to share for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

So, only 62 more days until our gardens will be filled with blooms. Until then, I'll be heading over to May Dreams Gardens to see what my garden blogger friends found blooming in their gardens.

Do you have any blooms to share?

Happy Bloom Day!

XO ~



  1. What a beautiful post, Julie. You have so much happening. I love the hellebores. I have absolutely no chance of ever growing them here, but they are just lovely, and I can never resist the pansies' cheery faces.

  2. I am counting the days too!
    It's lovely to see how early some things are in your garden, your hellebores are much earlier than mine, even though London is zone 9a. I can't get enough of hellebores, have to go and look at them every day now to see how far they have come :-)

    Good luck with your Daphne, that's one I haven't tried yet but always wanted to, I have also heard it is a bit tricky. Happy GBBD!

  3. Those Orchids are just beautiful. There are signs of spring all over your garden, but I can see you're very impatient for spring to arrive.

  4. Good Morning Julie, Oh the lovely Snowdrop, I know when their green shoots start peeking through the ground, Spring is almost here. I checked my garden yesterday and there were no green shoots. Oh well, it will probably be another four to six weeks. I love helebores aswell, they are such beautiful spring plants.
    It was lovely to see so much Spring growth in your garden....and to make you smile even more...maybe the sun will shine tomorrow.
    Have a lovely, if grey day,
    Best Wishes

  5. Oh Julie, you have so many beautiful blooms! We're in a clear and sunny but very cold snap here in zone 8. While we're all enjoying a break in the gray sogginess, freezing temperatures are keeping some plants from blooming (no snowdrops or hellebores blooming in my garden yet.) Oreo is an adorable do...ca...pet! Happy GBBD

  6. Amen to your comments about the gray, soggy, lethargic feelings! I love the warm weather...but need to see some blue skies! As a native Carolina girl about to move to Lancaster, PA...yikes!...I should treasure these warm winter days. I would love to know what kind of paperwhites you forced that are less offensive in the odor dept. I love paperwhites, but my family doesn't love the smell. Will you share the variety? LOVE your blog and will continue to read it even after I move far from my roots!

  7. Wow, Julie, you have lots blooming in your garden. It's all just so lovely.

    Thanks for the shout out for me and my latest story in Country Gardens magazine.

    Let me know if you are going to Pine Knot's open house this year. I'm going to try to go either Friday March 1st or Saturday March 2nd. It's always fun to see the gardens, talk with other gardeners, and hang out with Judith and Dick. It's all good. H.

  8. Very nice set of flowers for this time of year. In fact, I think your spring has started...

    I like the Daphne's as well. Even had the little 'Lawrence Crocker' bloom for me in December.

  9. Wow, lots of blooms in your garden. I am in awe of so many hellebore after just planting 5 ten years ago....would you kindly chat with mine?? They don't seem to understand the need to propagate!!
    Love your winter blooming cyclamen! Great color.
    Wanted to ask you about your mushroom logs-- did you water them a lot after they started to fruit? One of the MGs who also got some plugs and she was lamenting the need to water the logs. ??

  10. Awesome! You're just a little ahead of me--we're zone 7A. I'm waiting for things to pop just a bit more. Don't know what I'd do without those snowdrops and hellebores, either! My witch hazel is still too young to have blooms...so looking forward to that! I had a cyclamen but it didn't like my garden. Darn!