December 7, 2011

An Advent Calendar of Blooms

Early December is busy for everyone, and even though we have not started to decorate ( or clean!) the house this season, thanks to Mother Nature, our plant collections continue to bloom on schedule, without hesitation, much like an Advent Calendar, there are plants that bloom on certain days and times, and we just can't stop them. ( OK, it's a stretch, but I'm not feeling that well today). Here are a few blooming right now.

Native to South America ( Equador and Peru), this rare bulb looks like a smaller, green flowered Amaryllis, but it's not. Stenomesson piercii is a, choice bulb only found in the most geeky of plant collections, ( I gave a few bulbs away a few months ago, when I repotted mine). Blooming a month early this year, I was surprised to find this one stem hidden in a camellia bush in the greenhouse.

From the deserts of the cape floral zone in South Africa, comes this Massonia jasminiflora. It only produces two leaves, and a little cluster of blossoms in the center. Some species have beautiful foliage that can have very smooth leaf surfaces, and others have these strange little pustules, or blisters. This Christmas time bloomer has a little of both, and the flowers smell like, well, not Jasmine....more like hay. It may be night scented, I will have to take a whiff later in the week.

December 2, 2011

Winter Blooming Clematis

Clematis for Christmas? If you are surprised, you are not alone, but if you are looking for a beautiful winter blooming vine for your winter-mild garden ( zones 9 plus) or for a cool greenhouse in the north, consider the evergreen Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica

 We have all have a vision of clematis vines, but winter-blooming clematis? Not so much. If your idea of clematis  brings to mind a motif which involves tacky lamp posts in the summer, there are some very choice species and selections that are more interesting, particularly a species that comes from the mild winter climate of Spain and Italy.

Gardeners who live in warmer areas  like California are more likely to be familiar with these winter-blooming clematis, as Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica,  is a common vine in the western US. Interested if growing one? You can find one at Plant Delights nursery). Winter blooming clematis make great container plants in the north, if you can provide a cold, moist conservatory which is sunny.  A few are even showing up as florist plants at the Holiday, so keep your eyes open. I have seen them at Whole Foods and at Trader Joes a few years ago.  These selections all have nodding, four-petaled blossoms, and many have speckles. Clematis cirrhosa grows wild in places like Corsica, Majorca, and Sardinia, which should provide you with some information on the winter conditions required. I would say that if you can grow a rosemary outside, or in a plant room that remains cool, then you can try one of these.

Selections of C. cirrhosa are always hard to find in the states, look for then names which often have Christmas titles -  C. cirrhosa 'Jingle Bells ( an all white form) comes to mind. My first C. cirrhosa Jingle Bells' came as a Holiday gift plant. Other selections to look for are 'Wisley Cream', ( a white and greenish blossom, and  'Freckles', shown here. A few commercial growers are selling a few of these Clematis to retailers like Whole Foods and flower markets, trained as wreathes  as a seasonal pot plant in the north, but if you have a cold greenhouse, the species makes a magnificent show ( this is my first year growing it, but I have seen some vines in greenhouses that are often in full bloom at Christmas).  Commonly grown in gardens in the  United Kingdom, in North America, the species and named varieties are harder to find.  

December 1, 2011

SPECIAL ONE DAY SALE at Terrain 40% Off Sale for Readers!

 I love Terrain, the hip gardening store outside of Philadelphia and apparently, they love you too - announcing a secret sale for readers - so mark your calendar - online sale is TUESDAY, DEC. 6th for from 1:00 pm until 8:! Really, a 7 hour sale on the 6th where you will save 40% off on all sale items. On-line sale is only available from 10 am - 4pm EST, FROM 1:00pm to 8:00 pm EST so you may want to lurk for a hours first on-line to see what you might want first. Of course, once you are on their site, you may want to check out their other offerings. Here are some of my favorites, in case you are asking....

 If you live in the Philly area, the sale starts for IN-STORE guests on Thursday, Dec 1 and ends on Tuesday, Dec. 6th. So get your vintage woody truck, some Filson wooly underwear, and your 8 heirloom reindeer ready. It's time for some serious Xmas style upgrades to your garden.

Not on sale, but so nice.

My favorite soap - Smell like a lumber Jack.