Thursday, February 27, 2014

Flowers. One Must Have Flowers.

While the cold outside is unabating, with temperatures most days remaining well below freezing, quite a few things are coming into bloom inside. The freesias in the sun room began flowering yesterday, the crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii) is in bloom as always, there is a little yellow primrose my mom bought me, the sweet osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans) is producing a second flush of deliciously fragrant little flowers, and a few stray seedling of bush basil (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum) in the pot of a banana plants have lately been covered in little white flowers as well.

The first freesia bloom

 The osmanthus with its second flush of blossoms

Euphorbia milii, in bloom as always

Baby bush basil, flowering away

Outside of the sun room, a balsam plant (Impatiens balsamina) has begun flowering in the dining room window. I have grown balsam inside before, and this year I actually had quite a few plants going from a mid-fall sowing. The seeds had been a few years old and I had assumed few, if any would germinate. Contrary to my expectations I wound up with dozens of seedlings, but most of them eventually succumbed to a nasty spider mite infestation. Only the ones in the dining room have remained healthy, perhaps because it is quite a bit warmer than the sun room.

Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)

In addition to these things already blooming, it looks as though my two Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera cv.) are setting buds again as well, and then of course there are the hyacinth and tulip bulbs I am forcing. So even if spring is taking his sweet time outside, at least inside there will be lots of flowers.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pretty in Pink

After a busy week and a rather unproductive Friday, I came home yesterday night to a lovely surprise. Standing by my front door was a thick bouquet of flowers, sent by the best of significant others.

I wonder how the muted tone of those lilies would look with some really deep red...

Now if we can just manage to bring this long-distance situation to an end soon...

Monday, February 17, 2014

More Aspidistra Flowers and Other Happenings

After the small cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) division opening a bloom a few days back, a larger plant from the same batch which I had not even noticed was budding produced two flowers yesterday. So since mr_subjunctive asked for more pictures anyway, here is a shot of those two blooms, though I am afraid it is hardly any better than the picture of the previous one:

More Aspidistra elatior flowers

In other news, I bought a bunch of seed sowing supplies on Saturday and got started on the first batch of seeds to be sown for spring and summer. I planted seeds of four Indian eggplant varieties and some stocks (Matthiola incana). The latter I started this early in the hope that if they have some time to develop in the cool sun room before being planted out as early as possible, they will grow nice and strong before the weather gets too hot for their liking. A few other tasks were accomplished as well; some house plants that had outgrown their pots were finally moved into larger containers, and I potted up a bunch of hyacinth and lily-flowered tulip bulbs for forcing in the sun room. The bulbs were leftovers on sale at the garden center; they still looked good and were just beginning to sprout, so I decided I might as well give them a chance. I have always loved hyacinths, and I have a special weakness for lily-flowered tulips, not only because in the past they have performed more reliably for me in the garden than other classes of tulips but also because they are reminiscent of the pointed tulips of Ottoman flower painting, so much more elegant than the plump goblets Western European and American horticulture has favored.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Strange Blooms

The divisions of cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) that I dug up from the frontyard of my friend in New Orleans in November have yet to unfurl any new leaves, yet the smallest of them has been developing a flower bud for a while now. Yesterday it began to open, producing a bloom even stranger than the bloated earth-bound bud.

Flower of the cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), about half open

Presumably the energy for this bud and perhaps the beginnings of the bud itself came from the massive, well-established clump from which I hacked off this little plant. This makes me think that I probably will not see flowers again for a while, until these specimens have become big and strong in their own right. Not that one grows these for their flowers anyway, but since they are such odd flowers and I had never seen one in real life I am still quite happy to have got this one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Camellias and the Lyman Estate Greenhouses at

While outside yet another snow storm is burying the world in white, my daily email digest from Gardenista this morning included a lovely little article, replete with pictures, on the camellia collection at the nearby Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts, which I most recently blogged about here.

The Cult of the Wild Camellia

The article even mentions the two varieties of which I ended up buying cuttings on my last visit, 'Victory White' and 'RL Wheeler', though it does not have anything more to say about their history or qualities.