Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2016

It's hard to believe it's already the middle of February and time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by Carol, at May Dreams Gardens. Then again, looking at the flowers and buds swelling out in the garden, it's almost hard to believe it's only February. A mild winter and a recent stint of temperatures in the high fifties has brought on an early spring show.

First off, a few houseplants. I'm still impatiently observing half a dozen orchids slowly developing flower buds. For most of them, it will be the first time I've seen their blooms. They're sooo very slow. Another plant that seems to take a long time to develop flower buds, and grows even more slowly in my conditions, is Hoya multiflora. I think once the temperatures are reliably in the sixties, with a bit more frequent sunshine, I'll stick this plant in the greenhouse to get the heat and humidity it loves.

It was hard to get a good photo of the blooms on Echeveria purpusorum, growing under lights as it is. When I took it out from under the lights, it was too dark for a good picture.

Vanda Lou Sneary 'Bluebird' put out a couple surprise blooms. This is the third or fourth spike it's produced since last spring. Granted, the previous blooms were much more impressive, but I'll take any number of these sweetly-scented blooms.

Billbergia nutans is finished, but I still find the dried, twisted petals with the flair of yellow anthers somehow compelling.

A new purchase from Dancing Oaks at the Portland Yard Garden and Patio Show on Friday, Polygala chamaebuxus, could open any day. It's easy to find the purplish-pink varieties, grandiflora and 'Kamniski', but for some reason, the white version is very hard to find except for a few mail-order nurseries. All of them have yellow-lipped flowers, but in the white version, the yellow ages to orange-red. Though quite drought-tolerant, this evergreen groundcover prefers cool, somewhat moist soil, so I think I'll put these two plants in a cool microclimate somewhere in the driveway island.

It's been awhile since I've been in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, but February still seems a month or two early for Pieris japonica blooms. This variegated cultivar is the first to bloom in my garden. The other three are close behind. I know some PNW gardeners look down on these shrubs as over-used, but I think I'll be adding more to the garden this year, especially the red/dark pink forms.

Bergenia flowers don't particularly like our winter/spring rains, but they manage.

It wasn't quite bright enough for the crocus flowers to open fully. I'm not sure which cultivar this is. I only ever remember having Crocus vernus 'Twilight', 'Prince Claus', and C. tommasinianus 'Lilac Beauty'. These are too small and light for 'Twilight', and they definitely aren't 'Prince Claus' (see below). They look more like C. tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'. Maybe that's what I planted those years ago, and I'm just mistaken in thinking I planted 'Lilac Beauty'.

I wasn't sure I had any 'Prince Claus' left. It was actually the first crocus that I planted in this garden, but various things happened and I thought they had disappeared. I'm very happy to see this patch. I'll have to mark it, and any others that show up, so I remember where they are and can divide them. I love these purple and white flowers.

My driveway island redo began with digging most of the crocus corms (and any other bulbs/corms I found/remembered). I ended up with a five-gallon bucket over two thirds full of crocus corms. I planted a veritable carpet of crocus in several beds, after putting a few back into the driveway island and along the west side of the house. I grew thoroughly sick of planting crocus. But I think the results will be worth it.

I still had about a quarter of a bucket left in January, so I planted a few more, and threw the rest out in the lawn. I didn't even bury them, just tossed them out in the grass. I pressed a few down so they were actually touching the ground and covered by the moss and grass. If I had done this a month or two earlier, they would have been covered naturally as the grass grew. If any make it, great. If not, no loss. They are at least blooming now, since the flower buds and energy to support them were already in the corms when I tossed them out.

Enough crocus. I love these little snowdrops. They're so delicate and graceful. I wasn't sure where these were in the driveway island. I'm glad to see all three main clumps are undamaged. I'm going to try to remember to mark them so I can divide them later.

The largest of my Cyclamen coum isn't very big. It will grow, though, as will the other plants I put in this year, and the seedlings this one has produced. I want cyclamen everywhere.

The heaths continue to bloom. I think they may be just about peaking now.

Two of them surprised me. The flowers started out white, but have aged to a warmish purple-pink. I don't want to like it, but I do. Who am I kidding. I'll take flowers of any color right now. I just had forgotten that these ones weren't white.

Now for the requisite hellebore parade. First up, Helleborus x sternii.

The rest are all nameless hybrids, most of which I got while working at Plant Delights Nursery. There are some definite rejects (hey, they were free) but some of them are quite nice.

Any hellebore that holds its flowers up instead of hanging straight down is a plus.

Though that's not to say the ones hanging down aren't worth growing.

It just takes a little more effort to fully appreciate them.

A nice burgundy hybrid that holds its flowers facing out.

Though they hang down, this one has huge flowers.

Fingers for size comparison, and to appreciate the inside of the flower.

I like spots and green-tinged flowers, too. There are more coming into bloom. Perhaps they'll last until March GBBD. I'm just excited to be seeing them finally. Some of them are blooming for the first time. Most of them are just firsts for me, since I haven't been around this time of year to see them.

The Erysimum continue creeping closer to blooming. If these were on the south end of the house, instead of the west side, they might even be blooming now. You can see one bud finally starting to pop open in the cluster below.

Euphorbia rigida is almost open. I like the bright bracts against the blue foliage.

The best-looking of my primroses. The other vulgaris types are more beat-up by rain or chewed up by slugs.

Sarcococca blooms attract early hoverflies. I'm looking forward to this plant growing, so I don't have to lie on the ground to appreciate the scented blooms.

Epimedium sagittatum is sending up bloom stalks. No sign on my other two epimediums yet.

This Petasites japonicus 'Giganteus' has been blessedly well-behaved, though I still dread the day when it suddenly decides to explode and take over. Thus far, it's merely creeped out from a starting point near the center of these flowers.

Such odd things.

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof''. I absolutely must plant more garryas this year. Not just here, along the fence line, but in more prominent locations.

Mahonia bealei blooms in the deep shade along one side of the fence. Luckily it was planted far enough form the property line that it ended up inside the deer fence. The new growth and flowers were always devoured by the deer. Hopefully it will grow and bloom a little better from now on, protected inside the fence. The flowers smell so good, it's a pity the plant is in such an obscure location.


  1. Oh i love some of your plants! I thought you are from a tropical climate because of the Hoya multiflora, but you're not. I thought, oh at last i saw someone here who is into hoyas! But that is just one of your plants. That last plant is so lovely too, however i haven't heard it here in the tropics.

    1. Nope, sorry. Cool Mediterranean climate, here. My hoyas are all houseplants. I only have four, since I have so many other houseplants and hoyas can take up a lot of space. Wish I had room for more.

  2. Once upon a time I had a Petasites japonicus 'Giganteus' - this was way back before we built the patio. It kind of got trampled/buried in that project. I do miss the bizarre flowers. And yes, more Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'...I need all my friends to have lots of them and show photos often. You know, to make up for my not having one.

    1. I will gladly make up for your lack of garryas. And more besides 'James Roof'. There's also 'Evie', flavescens, and x issaquahensis 'Glasnevin Wine'. There's one at work that Sean is calling Garrya elliptica 'Sanguinea' or something like that, but I kinda think it might be 'Glasnevin Wine'.

  3. It still surprises me that you guys have so many flowers blooming in February while I'm looking out at a blanket of wet snow in Ohio. That being said, I love the break from the intensity of the garden. I need to get some work done now and again!
    I'd love to have cyclamen everywhere. C. coum doesn't perform well for me because the flowers tend to freeze, but C. hederifolium does well. I had a nice patch that died out when we lost the pine tree under which they grew. I'm trying them again, as well as C. purpurascens. Hoping for seedlings galore.
    Like all of your plant choices. Have thought about Polygala several times, but it never made it to the top of the list.

    1. This has been a mild year. We really only had about a week, maybe two, of "winter" and even then there were things trying to bloom. There are times I'd like more of a break from the garden. I started planting again in January, after only about a month hiatus. Cyclamen purpurascens is great. Longer bloom season than hederifolium, often fragrant, and can remain evergreen. I'm a bit concerned about keeping the Polygala happy through our hot, dry summers, but besides that, it has so many features I love.

  4. Your photo of 'Bluebird' is stunning, with the graphic shapes of the foliage setting off the delicate blooms. Your confession "I don't want to like it, but I do" strikes a chord. Traveling in the circles we do, we're all in danger of getting "uppity" about plants and missing out on some simple pleasures. My Petasites japonicus giganteus threw up one of those odd flowers for the first time this year. I puzzled over it until someone else blogged about it. I do hope it will take over the area where I have it...and soon.

    1. Thank you, Ricki! I've been using an old Sears lens on my new camera, which fits with the use of an adapter, for macro shots like that one. Works great, and it was free! (Well, minus the cost of the adapter, which was under $20.) I get uppity about strange things with plants. It doesn't matter how common it is. I love heaths and heathers, Pieris, Viburnum davidii, etc. But I'm trying to keep pink to a minimum in my garden.

  5. Your Bluebird orchid sounds interesting with the fragrance, Evan, I find that quite alluring in flowers too. I love my Hoya carnosa when it blooms. The Cyclamen coum looks pretty with the flowers present with the patterned leaves, I'll have to look for it to add to hederifolium. I like your assortment of hellebores, a double is on my list. I was reading that the Petasites is edible, I wonder if that would solve your problems if it becomes rampant. I finally got a winter-blooming Mahonia. It looks pitiful now since it bloomed earlier, but has a couple of small berries so maybe I could try to grow some from seed. I was thinking the resident hummers would like them.

    1. Did you see Bluebird with its last round of blooms? It had over 2 dozen. Much more impressive than this measly 2 blooms, though I still appreciate even a single bloom from this orchid. You should also look for Cyclamen purpurascens. It stays evergreen with only a little summer water, starts blooming before hederifolium, and keeps blooming for awhile after. Plus, it's often fragrant! If the Petasites tries to take over, it will be on the menu! I added Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' to my garden last year, in a more visible spot than bealei so it could be enjoyed. It was in rough shape, though, so no blooms this year.

  6. You can't show too many hellebores from my point of view. I love the crocus too. They don't do well here but I did find a few surprise blooms from a batch I planted when we first moved in. The heat here took them out rather quickly, however. I'm glad your Hoya is flowering well for you. Mine has surprised me by blooming nearly constantly - I'm afraid to move it anywhere else because it seems so happy in its spot in my office.

  7. I'm not ashamed to admit: I have 2 Pieris japonica; a traditional white bloomer and Valentino, with the red. I'm just happy to have healthy, easy maintenance evergreen shrubs.
    I like you crocus story. Hardy little things, aren't they? I'm certain they'll reward you with a carpet of bloom in the next few years. Meanwhile, I'll be looking for 'Prince Claus': what a regal bloom!

  8. I adore Pieris japonica as they are one of the first late winter blooming flowers I remember discovering (because it was everywhere) when I moved here. Must plant more this year! You have a lot of great blooms happening this bloom day! Hooray.


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