19 and holding

19. That, of course, is the temperature in Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius) that we dropped to after I wrote “Is winter over?” Then it rained. A lot. Then it got warm and dry again. Looks like the new winter normal is going to be periods of dry and cold followed by bursts of rain. Sadly, we are even drier than we were last year at this time. So, let’s overwhelm you with flowers and carry on.

My earliest blooming manzanita, Sentinel. Starts blooming in December an January. The hummingbirds sure appreciate it.

Pink bell flowers of Sentinel manzanita
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Sentinel'

Gipsy Girl crocus and the leaves stabbing up through last year’s fallen poplar debris. These were all bloomed out by mid-February. Annoyingly they are slug magnets and and are frequently damaged by the rain. It’s difficult to get a nice picture of them.

Just listened to a Science Friday podcast where they talked about renaming the common names of some insects so that they are less offensive. For example, “gypsy moth” just became “spongy moth”. Wonder if they will do the same for plant cultivar names?

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl'

Winter aconites were the first thing to start blooming here back in January…and, they are just finishing up now, 2 months later. Not as heavily damaged by slugs as crocus are either. The sad thing is that I buy lots of bulbs each fall, but only a few come up in the spring. Sort of difficult for me to establish, but once they do, they slowly seed around.

Bright yellow flowers of the spring ephemeral winter acontite
Eranthis hyemalis

One of the snowdrops. These are a close second for emerging and blooming after the winter aconites. I think this one is Galanthus elwesii. I want to get these naturalizing all over the yard, but this is another bulb that is hit or miss for me. Some come up, but many don’t. Trying to also establish a few of the fancier ones. For example, I just bought ‘Blewbury Tart’, a double form, but I am too lazy to go back outside and snap a photo.

White pendant flower of a snowdrop
Galanthus elwesii?

One of our west coast natives, the silk tassel bush. This one is Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Glasnevin Wine’, a hybrid between Garrya elliptica and Garrya fremontii. The interesting thing to me is that the seeds for this plant were originally collected by the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle from the garden of a Mrs. Page Ballard near Issaquah, Washington (thus the hybrid designation “x issaquahensis“. From there, the seeds were sent all the way to Ireland, where Lord Talbot of Malahide Castle grew them along, and one of which later came to be named ‘Pat Ballard’. A plant of ‘Pat Ballard’ was then planted at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Ireland and was later used to pollinate a female plant of Garrya x issaquahensis in the garden of Dr. E. Charles Nelson. One of the seedlings from that cross was more red than the others, and was named ‘Glasnevin Wine’. Now here we are, all these years later, and ‘Glasnevin Wine’ is growing in my garden on the west coast of the United States.

This is sort of typical, where the Europeans take a greater interest in our U.S. native plants than we do, and they end up selecting interesting forms that then later make there way back to us.

Dangly flowers of Garrya Glasnevin Wine
Garrya x issaquahensis 'Glasnevin Wine'

You can see how much more red ‘Glasnevin Wine’ is compared to this silk tassel bush, ‘James Roof’. These flowers are much more gray in color with only the slightest blush of pink.

Flowers of Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'
Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'

Almost bright enough to be a flower is the winter color on the leaves of our native Sedum spathulifolium.

Bright purple-red winter color of the leaves on Sedum spathulifolium
Sedum spathulifolium

Another plant that produces red leaves in winter is our native evergreen huckleberry. It seems to be only the young leaves exposed to cold, open air though. The leaves on the plants that are protected underneath the Douglas-fir trees have stayed green.

Bright red leaves on a evergreen huckleberry
Vaccinium ovatum

I don’t know, this is one of the hellebores that has managed to survive in my garden. I’m not a huge fan of having to flip the flowers over so I can see them. Then, this one has a bonus feature of wilting throughout the summer. Pretty though, when I do take the time to look.

White flower of Hellebore 'White Pearl'
Helleborus 'White Pearl'

This is the one hellebore that has won my heart over, the stinking hellebore. Takes dry shade underneath our Douglas-fir trees. Flowers are a bit blah, but cute enough. Despite the name, the flowers smell somewhat pleasant to me. Maybe other individual plants of this species smell horrible?

Palmate leaves and flowers of the foetid hellebore
Helleborus foetidus

This floppy, gross mess is my first hellebore. In January, it was just covered with blackened leaves and flower buds. I’ve since been out there and cleaned up the damaged parts, but I’m starting to tire of putting in the effort. Especially since it wilts all summer even when watered on a generous once-a-week schedule. It’s coddled more than most any other plant in the yard and it still under-performs. It may be time for it to go.

Floppy mess of hellebore 'Winter Jewel'
Helleborus 'Winter Jewel'
Blighted hellebore 'Winter Jewel' showing blackened leaves and flowers
Blackened flower bud
Maroon flower outlined in white of hellebore 'Winter Jewel'
One sort of okay looking flower

A trio of other flowers in the garden. My favorite Johnny jump-up, the wonderfully scented white flowers of sweetbox, and the light purple flowers of rosemary ‘Roman Beauty’.

The Cyclamen coum have been blooming for a couple months. Frustratingly difficult to get those stupid flowers in focus. This was my best shot.

Silvery leaves and purple flowers of Cyclamen coum
Cyclamen coum

The leaves of the fall-blooming Cyclamen hederifolium are at their best now. I often just sit and admire the leaf patterns on these for a few minutes when I walk by.

Variegated leaves of Cyclamen hederifolium
Cyclamen hederifolium

A little bit of sunshine from my Winter Sonne mugo pine. It’s only this color in winter, but I love it.

Yellow needles in winter on Winter Sonne mugo pine
Pinus mugo 'Winter Sonne'

2/21/2022 to 3/12/2022: Lowest temperature for period = 19°F, highest = 57°F. 3.7 inches of rain total.

Garden notes: First rufous hummingbird seen on 3/5/2022.

Garden chores accomplished: Pruned Ozothamnus, Bupleurum, and some ferns. Weeding. Planted a few overwintered potted plants. Cuttings of Callistemon and Penstemon.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. danger garden

    Thanks for the photos (and story) of Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Glasnevin Wine’. I do wish I had a spot for one…

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      I am constantly amazed at what you DO have room for in your garden. The Garryas are fantastic. I am working on propagating some Garrya buxifolia, the boxleaf silk tassel bush. Much, much smaller. The plants I took cuttings from were only about 2 feet tall, so much more manageable.

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