Not much is happening in my garden yet, and I admit I was tempted to skip bloom day and foliage follow-up this month in favor of revisiting summer via my photos from John Kuzma's Portland garden. But I really do like having this record of what's in bloom, so the Kuzma garden can wait until next week.
In this post I'm linking with:
Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-up
and last but not least, Anna at Flutter&Hum for Wednesday Vignette.
This is a multitasking post. Please follow the links above to see more posts for each meme.
The indoor garden is still very much carrying the show, and my spirits. Late winter is actually peak bloom time for my orchids, which are my main flowering houseplants. Most others are chosen solely for foliage, and any flowers are just a perk.
I'm still enamored with my new Rhapis excelsa, which my friend Loree kindly picked out for me after I initially passed them up at the Division Street Portland Nursery houseplant sale. I'm glad I came to my senses and she went in time to nab this one for me. Though the photo below shows it in the sunlight, I especially like the shadows it casts on the wall in the evenings from the room light. The shadow on the wall in the photo is from Vriesea 'Splenreit' sitting in the window.
Speaking of vrieseas, the flower spike on Vriesea ospinae-gruberi continues to grow. I'm finding it a little difficult to photograph properly. It's a complex structure and you can see the multiple branches developing on the main spike. It's also becoming a bit of a balance and siting problem. Already top-heavy, the spike is making it even more so. I've tipped it over once already, thankfully not breaking the spike in the process. So I turned it around, as it has always leaned a bit in one direction. Now I'm having trouble keeping it out of the window, as I need to raise and lower the blinds without beating and bruising the spike.
Ludisia discolor continues to bloom, though on close inspection they are starting to fade.
Paphiopedilum Macabre will continue looking good for a few more months. Incidentally, these photos were all taken with a new lens I purchased and have been getting used to in preparation for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show next week. I'm really quite pleased with the images I've been able to get with it.
I've been working to purge and refine my houseplant collection this winter. More sturdy foliage plants and fewer touchy, finicky plants. Aglaonemas are some of my favorite foliage plants for indoors. There's a reason they're such common office plants. They thrive (or at least persist) on neglect. They can take extremely low light levels that most plants wouldn't tolerate and, unless they're fairly root-bound, they aren't particularly thirsty. They do require a bit more water than, say, a Sansevieria, but I let mine dry almost completely between watering. Over-watering these plants is more common, and can result in yellowing leaves and rotten roots. But enough of that. My oldest Aglaonema is the good old standard, 'Silver Queen'. I'm not sure I've actually seen this cultivar available in local nurseries. It's been replaced with newer cultivars, but it's still one of my favorites.
Wanting more of these indoor foliage workhorses, I picked up three during the Portland Nursery houseplant sale. All, sadly, unidentified, though I've been digging through the internet to try to give them names. This one could be Jubilee or Black Lance. I'm not really sure. But I love the subtle shadings in the leaf. At first, I though there was a pattern on the back sides of the leaves that created a shadowy pattern on the tops. Really, though, there are two shades of grey, a lighter grey and a darker pewter color that causes the illusion of shadows. It's a bit difficult to capture in a photograph, because of the glossy leaves, but you can make it out in this photo.
Two more aglaonemas. I'm fairly certain the one on the left is Silver Bay... or maybe Emerald Bay. I'm not sure what the difference is, if there is one. I haven't been able to put even a tentative name to the narrow-leaved cultivar on the right.
Orchids aren't exactly low maintenance, but most also aren't nearly as finicky as most people think. I've pared my collection down to a few that only need watering once a week, and can go up to two weeks without if I don't make a habit of it. Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Blue Bird' frequently shows up in my bloom day posts because it blooms multiple times per year. It's been in bloom for most of the winter, with it's deliciously-scented blooms.
Another bromeliad, a tiny fraction of the size of the massive Vriesea above, Tillandsia fuchsii var. gracilis surprised me by producing a flower spike. This is a pup from the original plant I purchased, making it one of only two or three tillandsia I've grown from bloom to bloom. It's not a very flashy one, but exciting for me, nonetheless.
Phragmipedium Olaf Gruss is another orchid I've found to be relatively easy. Phragmipediums love water, so much so that you can keep the pot in a tray filled with water. Going away for awhile? Add a bit more water to the tray than usual and this orchid will be fine. It's also been blooming since the end of summer, producing one or two flowers at a time. Two more growths are preparing to send up flower spikes, so while this bloom is the last on this spike, more won't be far behind.
Under the lights, Tillandsia flabellata produces purple flowers from its flaming sword-like spike. Hanging from above, Lepanthopsis astrophora 'Stalky' has a light cloud of tiny amethyst flowers hanging around it.While this tiny orchid is very rewarding, it does require frequent watering, or a nice humid terrarium. Sine I currently mist it daily, I'm going to try growing it in one of those hanging glass balls that have become popular for tillandsia display to reduce the frequency of waterings. In the background on the left, Phalaenopsis stuartiana 'Sogo' has a spike loaded with flower buds ready to pop open.
Two more Phalaenopsis here. A dark form of Phalaenopsis schilleriana, on the right, is open, while Phalaenopsis Philishill arches across with a bloom on the left in the process of opening.
Taking the schilleriana out from under the lights to show the color a little better.
Just one plant actually in bloom out in the greenhouse this month, though several others are in bud. This is the unidentified Agapetes/Vaccinium I showed in my last post, with one bloom fully expanded like a little paper lantern. The leaves and hairy stems look a lot like Vaccinium nummularia, but the flowers are much larger and the pinkish red color is at the base of the flowers instead of around the opening. I love the little hint of green on the tips. But where Vaccinium nummularia is hardy to USDA zone 7, this plant likely isn't hardy below zone 9. It enjoys winter in the greenhouse with the rest of my agapetes and vireyas.
|Just a side note: unlike all the other photos in this post, this one was taken with my phone. Good enough for a blog post, but on my big monitor the difference in image quality is significant.|
Moving on to the outside garden. Not much is happening out here just yet, though things are definitely waking up. I neglected to photograph the two open flowers on my Lonicera fragrantissima. It's amazing how fragrant just two tiny blooms can be. It will be wonderful once it's established and hasn't been moved or hacked down or any of the other tortures I've put it through. And hopefully there's enough sun where I put it... Well, I can't pamper all my plants (or even most of them) so they get what they get.
The Helleborus x hybridus are pushing up flower buds, though they probably won't open until the end of February.
The bright cultivars of Calluna vulgaris are some of my favorite foliage plants in the winter garden. I've forgotten which cultivar the plant in this photo is, though I want to say it's 'Wickwar Flame'. The harsh winter has only made it burn brighter. Actually, I'm pretty happy with the whole bed, since redesigning it about a year and a half ago. Even now that I've started cutting things back, it still looks full. The large, awkward bare spots that plagued it before are either eliminated or reduced to the point where I don't find them horribly ugly. And the only open flowers in this photo are on the Erica directly behind the orange Calluna. That's all foliage color.
The big flower buds of Petasites japonicus 'Giganteus' sort of remind me of little cabbages.
Erica carnea continues to bloom through all the weather winter throws at it.
Tiny Galanthus flowers are just about to open. Plants like these illustrate the differences between my slightly cooler microclimate and warmer ones. Friends have been posting photos of open Galanthus for at least a week.
Come on, Helleborus x sternii, just a little more!
Penny's Pink hellebore, on the other hand, opened as soon as the snow melted last week, and had started even before that.
I also love the foliage on this hellebore. It's much nicer than the x hybridus types.
The Cyclamen coum are waking up. I like this one, popping up through the gorgeous foliage of a small form of Iris japonica from Far Reaches with that incredible indigo staining at the base. This year I've noticed cyclamen starting to show up even in places where I haven't scattered the seeds myself. I think the ants are helping me a bit with that.
Sedum forsterianum 'Antique Grill' seems to suffer from an unfortunate cultivar name, at least according to some. To me, it's no worse than many other cultivar names. Names aside, I love the plant. It's a beautiful blue in the warmer months, but it takes on glowing shades of purple and pink in winter.
I love seeing that color from the dining room. It's proving to be a decent ground cover in this very difficult bed with compacted clay soil under a thin layer of heavily decomposed mulch (under the mulch you see in this photo). It gets extremely hot in summer and watering becomes a challenge. Some plants fry without it, some fry with it. This sedum takes it all. I want more ground-covering plants in this bed, so I'm on the lookout this spring for a low-growing juniper that will snake around the existing plants, like this Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' in Loree's front garden. The sedum and other small plants in this photo can handle the front of the bed, but I need something to cover the ground between the taller plants in the back of the bed.
I haven't photographed this combination in quite a while, and it's really looking good right now, despite some damage on the mini mondo grass and the bare spot from where I removed an Asarum that was getting eaten to death by slugs. The cold winter seems to at least kept the slugs from also decimating the Cardamine diphylla. Gotta make sure to sprinkle some slug bait here now that the weather has warmed up.
The deer that came in last week on the snowy night that brought three alders crashing into our fence ate some of my Hamamelis 'Jelena' blooms in passing, but left me a few. Now that the weather is warmer, I'm certain I could detect a faint scent from these blooms. Not nearly as powerful as cultivars like Arnold's Promise, famed for their fragrance, but nice all the same. To me, it smelled a bit like oranges, the fruits, not the flowers.
The buds on Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' (maybe I should just start calling it "Sss") are starting to expand. This plant has a thuggish reputation. I've only had it for a couple years. Will this be the year it shows its true colors? Or will the clay soil its in prove a match for its spreading ways?
And to end this post, here's a photo of the amazing sunrise we had on Tuesday morning. I had to get my camera out, though I was too lazy to actually step outside of the house to capture this photo. Not bad for through a sliding glass door.