Tag Archives: winter bloom

Flower Count – day 5 – crocus

snow crocus in February
photo by SVSeekins

We can’t get through Victoria’s Flower Count without mentioning the good old snow crocus.  They’re the true harbinger of spring.  In this area they usually start to show themselves by Valentines Day.  This year there were these pastel hints of them at Valentines.

I enjoy watching their dance.  If a beam of sunlight hits, they open their flowers.  As a cloud blocks the sunshine, they close up again.  On a windy day, when the clouds are really moving, crocus can get really busy. It must be exhausting.

They look so delicate, but they’re pretty tough considering the weather they thrive in.  Snow is part of their name for a reason.  I’ve seen them survive a dump of snow without a shiver.  As soon as the sun shows up, they’re even gutsy enough to open their bloom right then & there.

early crocus in peony bed
photo by SVSeekins

I planted some brighter colored varieties in the peony bed.  The other day I noticed those were coming up, too.  I’ll have to tidy up the old peony stems, to better show off these spring bulbs.

Soon enough the new peony sprouts will be reaching for the sun themselves.  By the time the crocus finish, the peonies will take over the bed & give the crocus some shade to rejuvenate in through the summer

dandelions out - crocus bulbs in
photo by SVSeekins

Last fall I started an experiment trying to naturalize some crocus in the boulevard lawn at the same time as digging out some dandelion.  After all that digging, the lawn looked worse for wear, but as the grass is just showing signs of growth, I’m hoping it’ll be looking better soon.

crocus sharing space with moss & grass
photo by SVSeekins

The good news is that the crocus are starting to grow too.  Dividends – Yippee!

The blooms so far look pretty small in comparison to those growing in the flower beds, but there is plenty of growing season to come.  Hopefully they’ll take off this first year & be even stronger next year.

C is talking about the possible need to mow the lawn.  That will be another test.

In the meantime, I’m delighted to see the snow crocus.  Before we know it, daffodils will follow – then it’ll really feel like spring!

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012. 

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Flower Count

Flower Count – day 3 – mahonia

It was early February when I ran across this burst of sunshine in Victoria.

mahonia bloom
photo by SVSeekins
mahonia in February
photo by SVSeekins

Mahonia is an evergreen shrub that boasts happy yellow flower clusters through winter.

This particular specimen is certainly more showy than the local mahonia (Oregon grape) that grows in our yard.

At this time of year the tall Oregon grape in our shrub border is only just preparing to bloom.

mahonia - tall Oregon grape in February
photo by SVSeekins

By summer it’ll  be sporting dark berries.  One of my favorite resource books, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, tells  that some use the berries to make jelly with real pucker power.

Oregon grape with berries
photo by SVSeekins

The leaves are shaped like holly, but aren’t nearly as hard and prickly.

I’ve seen full-sized holly trees, but mahonia only seem to come in shrubs or ground covers.

Holly berries are red, while mahonia’s are blue.

In some places, folks consider holly an invasive.  I’ve not heard any such complaint about the mahonia.

Aside from watering it for the first summer after transplanting, Oregon grape seems happy here with no attention at all.

This one is a hard worker.  It’s evergreen, so it’s interesting all year-long.  The winter blooms feed hummingbirds.  The summer fruit feeds other birds.  The mild prickles deter deer.   Who could ask for more?

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012.

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Flower Count

Cyclamen Coum – February Romance

I think February is sleeping in.  The days are getting longer, but it seems so slow. Standing at the Kitchen sink, staring out the window at the drizzle, I let out a squeal.  Hot pink blooms at the base of the apple tree!  I’m saved!  Happy dance.

cyclamen coum - full bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Cyclamen coum shouts for me to come outside and play.  I drop everything to grab the camera. Kneeling down on the soggy lawn, I fumble for the Close Up setting.  The rain dribbles down my neck, but I don’t care.  Blooms!  I see blooms!

For such a tiny flower, it packs a punch.

I mean, snowdrops are lovely but are demure, unassuming white flowers.  Cyclamen coum are bright, exotic, FEISTY flowers.  Round 1 goes to c. coum.

cyclamen coum - full bloom
photo by SVSeekins

In round 2 c. coum throws a low blow to my gut.  It’s a little more pricey than my usual comfort zone, especially considering that it comes in such a tiny pot.  But determined to have real color in the winter garden, I stayed strong & paid the price.

cyclamen coum - debris
photo by SVSeekins

In round 3 I struggled with where to showcase the winter bloomer.  I keep the little bed under the apple tree empty – mostly because I read somewhere that certain bugs climb up tall plants as a way to get high into the apple tree & infect the fruit.  I don’t know whether that’s really true, but it gives me a clear spot, visible from inside, for the cyclamen to show off.  Good thinking, eh?

C. coum are so small that they could easily be lost under a pile of leaf debris, so in round 4 I get busy & do the winter clean up chores.

cyclamen coum - January
photo by SVSeekins

Their speckled round leafs started to show in October.  By mid-January, c. coum had minuscule, bright fuchsia buds.  I often found myself outside cheering them on.  It took a few extra weeks for their flowers to open.  That entertainment value won them round 5.

So now, I’m on my knees with the camera, looking a bit foolish, but happy.  I’m head over heels.   How many more rounds to go?  None,  round 6 is a simple knock out.

Cyclamen coum have got to be my all-time favorites – EVER.   🙂

cyclamen hederifolium - February - leaf only
photo by SVSeekins

Hardy Cyclamen is more often known as a fall bloomer.  Most varieties start in August and some continue through November.  There are lovely examples growing in Abkhazi Garden.

Cyclamen hederifolium (with ivy shaped leaves) is a bully & overruns many of the other varieties.  There are several small patches around our yard, but I’m being ever so careful about placing each variety separately and not too close together.

cyclamen hederifolium - September bloom only
photo by SVSeekins

On a positive note, C. hderifolium’s flowers seem to appear magically out of nowhere, and the leaves show up weeks later.  That’s kind of cool, for a bully.

cyclamen hederifolium - February - rock crevices
photo by SVSeekins

Cyclamen are well suited as a rockery plant, too.  I’m happy to have success with some rooting well into the steep mossy rock in our side yard. My hope is that it’s tough to mix varieties when they’re each growing in their own crevice.

Garden gurus Carole & Bill Dancer have lovely masses of hardy cyclamen flowering throughout their garden beds at this time of year.  Bill says the cyclamen spread effortlessly.  He chuckles that the ants do the work.  They happily move the sticky seeds around for him. My guess is the ants are just as susceptible to this February romance as I am.

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