February flowers

I missed the deadline for posting my flower pictures for the February bloom day over at May Dreams Gardens by a long shot. It was a shame because I had already taken and processed the photos for it, but needed the down time for rest and recuperation. These things, however, ARE still in bloom. So, I humbly submit a highlight reel of what is going on around these here parts.

Starting outside, my first Narcissus of the season, Narcissus bulbocodium. These are on the south side of our raised rock garden.

Emerging flower buds of the Columbia desert parsley (Lomatium columbianum) in the front rock garden.

New to the garden is our native snowqueen, Veronica regina-nivalis (formerly Synthyris reniformis). Huh, would you believe this is now lumped into the same genus with hebes (some hebe pics over here)? Both look very different than what I think of as a classic Veronica.

Winning a reprieve, is this Winter Jewel hellebore. Last year, I was almost ready to rip it out. Looks much healthier this year. Maybe the big difference was that I actually cleaned up the old leaves sometime in January before the flower buds and new leaves emerged.

Getting a sense of deja vu here as I look through last year’s photos. There is definitely heavy repetition in what I tend to take pictures of year after year.

Obligatory snowdrop photos are next. This year, I decided to take a closer look at the inner “cup”, consisting of three green and white tepals – look at those striations! – useful for leading pollinators to the nectaries down near the base of the yellow anthers. The green markings have a very different appearance from the inside (striped) than they do from the outside (solid blotches). I also like the way the six  anthers are twisted together in the center. The quality of that white is superb, so clear in contrast to everything else around it. The overall symmetry, and the cupped, propeller shape of the outer, larger white tepals are also immensely satisfying. Check out these two articles by the Polish botanists Weryszko-Chmielewska and Chwil, with some very worthwhile close-up photography (including microscopy) of Galanthus nivalis flowers (here and here). Although scientific articles can contain a lot of jargon, the introduction often has some interesting tidbits about the plants we are interested in. For example, I found out that Galanthus nivalis is threatened in Poland, is primarily pollinated by bees, the flowers are scented (color me surprised! – I sniffed a few G. elwesii – they smelled like dust), and the green areas of the flower can photosynthesize!

Here is a Galanthus nivalis variety, a double form called ‘Hippolyta’. Fantastic green striations in this one too. Why is it named after the queen of the Amazons?

Obligatory photo of winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis. Another plant that makes me happy, especially when I see the late afternoon winter sun shining through the petals on a cold, sunny day that is scented by fallen leaves, frost, and wood smoke. Sorry, you don’t get that photo. Instead, you get one from a typical Oregon cloudy winter day.

First of the croci to bloom, Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ or ‘Gypsy Girl’, whichever spelling you choose. I prefer the latter, as the former I always pronounce in my head as a hard “G” sound instead of a soft “G”.

Not a flower. I can never catch wooly bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella) in the act of crawling. I sat and stared at this one for 5 minutes. It didn’t move. Then I turned around, weeded for a few minutes, and when I turned back, it was gone. They always seem to be in a state of suspended animation, never moving, just sitting still, and apparently teleporting from one place to the next when my attention is elsewhere.  One moment it was on this rock in the rock garden, the next moment it was in the lawn. One of nature’s great mysteries. Do you know what the adult moth looks like? I didn’t either. Take a moment while you’re here on the web to find out at the 1000 things of the PNW blog (here, good info!) and at the Moths of North Carolina webpage (here). Go on. I’ll wait.

Blam! Vibrant reddish-orange flowers of Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’. Is it just me, or do these flowers appear more red during cold weather and more orange during warmer weather? Maybe this would be a good screening plant for the road where our arborvitae died from drought? I’m just trying to figure out how tall it will get and what the form will look like on an open-grown plant. From Xera Plants – one of the few, reliable grevilleas hardy enough for our location.

Also not a flower, but the perfect form of this native miner’s lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) made me happy.

Again, not a flower, but how could I not show this? It looks like our oleander has made it through a second Oregon winter. Did I just jinx it?

Flowers to be on wood spurge, Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae. Yes, that downward facing cone of reddish leaves. Soon, it will curve up and burst forth with chartreuse flowers.

Speaking of chartreuse, does anyone ever bother to look at the tiny little greenish yellow sparkler flowers of boxwood? This one is probably Buxus ‘Green Mountain’.

I do love me some dead flowers. Here are the shaggy seedheads of our native rough-leaved aster (Eurybia radulina). These, of course, are filled with seeds. So, I guess, they aren’t technically “dead”.

The gift that keeps giving – seedheads of Carlina acaulis just beginning to fluff apart.

Going inside, Gasteria bicolor var. liliputana is a favorite this time of year. Hard to capture all the details in one shot, so starting clockwise from the upper left,  the plant itself, the entire flower spike, a close-up of the flowers in profile, and a close-up of the flower. Cute.

Pink and white flowers of Hoya curtisii.

The moth orchid is so floriferous, it tipped over. This photo does not capture the blooming immensity of it all.

There is a unique, crystalline sparkliness to begonia flowers. This rex begonia is no exception. Enlargify photo on right to see for thyself.

Another annoying name change, to me at least, is the lumping of Sansevieria into Dracaena. I don’t know what the species is for this one is, but I rarely see sansevierias in bloom. So, here it is. Sort of a light lavender color. There is one bud that opened up down at the bottom – not really that pretty – sort of like a mass of dead, curled up spider legs. I tried taking more photos later as it bloomed out further, but they really weren’t worth showing.

Purple flowers of Streptocarpus saxorum contrasting beautifully with the chlorotic foliage in the background. I need to take cuttings and rejuvenate this.

Last, but not least, little flower spikes have appeared on several of my peperomias, including this Peperomia angulata. Are they open? Are they still closed? Can’t tell for sure, but I suspect they are still closed, but they have been sitting on this plant for months. Hurry up already.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Kris P

    That’s quite a collection of flowers! I have to say I like the idea that there are teleporting wooly bear caterpillars out in the world somewhere. The orchid is gorgeous and love the boxwood flowers – who knew? (I don’t grow boxwood.) I’ve grown to appreciate snowdrops in all their various incarnations, even if I can’t grow them in my climate.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      I was pleasantly surprised by the number of flowers this winter and makes me suspect that the switch between shorter and longer days (or vice versa) is what stimulates a lot of tropicals and succulents to bloom. The boxwood is for a research project. I just happened to notice the flowers and like focusing in on the things that other people might miss. I didn’t get all the hubbub about snowdrops for a long time. Thought they were fine and all, but also grown to appreciate them as I spend more time with them. Familiarity in the plant world seems to breed appreciation, not contempt.

  2. danger garden

    Just when I was amazed at spring-like it is in your garden (it’s still winter here in Portland), then you go and share all these amazing indoor flowers with visible greenhouse madness in the background. Please tell me those plants are at work… cause if you’ve got a greenhouse set-up like that at home, well…WOW!

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Yes, those plants are at work. My greenhouse at home is much less fabulous and more of an overwintering spot and place to start seeds.

  3. Anna K

    Those little Narcissi are just adorable. I would happily have a whole carpet of those in spring…

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      They are some of my favorites. One of the wonderful things about gardening here in the PNW.

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