December 13, 2009

Dreaming of a White Christmas

...and, peace, in the Greenhouse ( finally!), as the new furnace was hung and installed. Now, a nice, quite hum as it ignites, and no more explosions. The timing could not have been better, either, since Friday night it reached 14 degrees F. outside, and the furnace was installed that morning. The old one had only one burner working, and the bottom had blown off the night before, filling the glasshouse with gas fumes. Now, we are at peace.

Above, one of the last Nerine sarniensis cultivars to bloom, is the white form called "Kyoto".

The only green Narcissis, N. viridiflora, blooms open releasing their mysterious, scent. It's so easy to miss these, and I almost did if I didn't smell them. Not really a pleasant scent, the scent is a bit chemical, like acetone. Still, they are so special and unique, being both an odd color and a fall bloomer, I just love this species.

Brussels Sprouts taste best when they are harvested in the winter. Here, in the snow that fell this week, they stand out looking a bit messy, but they will be all picked by the New Year, with most of them being saved from Christmas Even dinner.

The PInus bungeana near the greenhouse and alpine garden, is starting to look better with the Japanese pruning technique which requires that I remove half of the needles every December.

The alpine troughs are planted with high elevations alpine plants, which are used to spending half of their life under a deep snow cover, so this, is exactly what they want.

A pot of Narcissus romieuxii is more than well budded this season. I can't believe how many flowers this pot will have in a few weeks. Who needs Paperwhites! These tiny winter blooming species from Morocco pack more for the buck than most any other Narcissus.

You all know I'm a Lachenalia nut, growing nearly 40 species, mostly from wild collected seed from carefully monitored populations in the cape floral area of South Africa. These two are both seed started, and now that the bulbs are reaching four years old, are either blooming, or expected to. Lachenalia pusilla has these speckled leaves, and tiny white flowers in the center, below, Lachenalia purpurea var. Caerulea may not bloom until next year, but the pustulated foliage is starting to show the characteristics of more mature foliage, with tiny pustules, like little blisters. Related to Hyacinths, the foliage of many species looks similar to this common Dutch spring flower.

Lachenalia purpurea var. Caerulea seedlings.

The large Bay laurels that were moved back into the greenhouse last weekend, has provided me with a large pot of bay leaves that I will make wreathes and garland with next weekend. These culinary wreaths are special, and will also be gifts for some close friends, especially those who love to cook.

It looks like holly (Ilex) but it's not, it's the semi tropical shrub known as Osmanthus. Osmanthiu fragrans is a related species that comes from China, where they make a tea with the flowers, it's scent fills the greenhouse in the late autumn and winter for us with its almond scent, but this species is different, but it too is not unusual in warmer parts of the world, being grown in California and other warm areas for it's holly-like foliage. For us, in New England, it's not something one sees grown, for it must be grown in pots, and kept from extreme cold. easy enough to grow if you can provide a cold, unheated porch or garden room, it grows slowly and is easy to keep tidy with a trim every now and then. It comes into the house during the holidays for a week or so, and everyone just thinks that it is holly.


  1. Nice Matt....I used to have an Osmanthus fragrans..that scent is the best! Jenny & I sat under a mature tree in full bloom in a garden in Rome and had our lunch. It was heaven!

  2. Your Lachenalia inspired me to order some this fall but I don't think I'm doing as well. The leaves are quite long and leggy. I do have two flowers starting to grow. Maybe at some point you can feature them in your blog and give some hints on how you grow them successfully (or incorporate it into your next issue of the magazine)

    Happy Holidays Matt!

  3. Good to see those Narcissus romieuxii, I'm growing them for the first time this winter. Excitedly waiting for them to bloom. Have you had any luck with N.cyclamineus ?

  4. The Kyoto looks very elegant with its fresh bloom. I'm glad to know the furnace got installed, since more plants bloomed for December.Here in Florida,it's usually rain; we tried the Rosemary as an alternative to the usual Christmas tree.

  5. Was just up in Manhattan last week. Freezing cold to me, but alas, no snow. I don't get to see it much living in Charleston. Love the white nerine.


It's always a good thing to leave a comment!