Monday, December 15, 2008

Not-much-in-bloom Day, December 2008

The colder-than-normal temperatures have taken their toll--there's very little in bloom outside.This little coneflower--hardly a bloom--is nevertheless a surprise--the dark red of the seeds is still welcome color.


Normally the violas provide most of the color in winter, but when we (and most critically Ranunculus) were gone over Thanksgiving, well, I sort of forgot to spray the Liquid Fence--and without dog or deterrent, the deer had a lovely dinner of their own. As in just about every pansy in the garden. They left one tiny viola on the deck:

The strangest bloom is this Weigela bud, from a sale plant at a home improvement store. It was a late season sale, and the plant was seriously root bound--maybe the plant was so glad to be stretching its legs that it forgot the sub-30 temps.



There are still some tiny late season blooms on the tea olives (Osmanthus fragrans)--and if you're very close, some tiny fragrance.


And some early season promise as well--these buds on the sarcococca (which looks weirdly like the tea olive in these photos, except that the sarcococca at its tallest is ankle high, and the tea olive is about 7 feet)--will turn into flowers as fragrant as the tea olive's were in late summer.


Pieris japonica is my favorite plant. It's an evergreen that loves Virginia conditions--as much as azaleas, nandina, and Japanese maples do--but for some reason it doesn't seem to show up as much in commercial landscaping. I'll post more on this plant when it does its big show in the spring--it's in rehearsal now.


The oak leaf hydrangea are still spectacular, even with dried flowers and waning leaves.


What color there is in the garden is provided mainly by foliage--here, heuchera, holly fern, and ivy.

The hellebores are more prominent now that the trees and taller shrubs have lost their leaves. This is Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose):


And this is Helleborus foetidus--which doesn't really stink, and is a wonderful shade plant:


The only other "blooms" are after-blooms--the December berries. Most are red, like these on this cotoneaster(whose purple foliage provides its own winter color)



The pyracantha are still going strong--


--and the Burford Holly berries signal the holiday season--

--along with their native cousins, the American hollies:


(Well, I think these are American hollies--they're native and all over the property.)


Not nearly as showy, but lovely nonetheless, are the barberries on their naked stems.


And the bayberries are just coming out. These berries are fragrant in large clusters and are used for candles. People sometimes pull off the leaves and use the berry-covered stems in dried arrangements (warning to the non-crafty--pulling the leaves is kind of like plucking a turkey, or so I imagine, having never actually plucked anything feathered).



The true blooms these days are indoors. This is a contrary one--this bougainvillea bloomed once all summer. Since I brought it indoors, it's been budding like crazy. Maybe even with our dry summer, it was still too humid outside?



And one of my little holiday arrangements--some paperwhites and poinsettias--


And my stalwart Euphorbia lomi, everblooming in the sunshine through the back window. Ranunculus looks kind of like he's smelling the flowers, doesn't he?

Umm, he's not. This Euphorbia isn't fragrant. Actually, Ranunculus is at this moment mesmerized by the reflections from the disco ball Christmas ornament we hung on the plant.
Or maybe he's just tired from chasing them around.


Animal cruelty? I hope not. Human amusement? Oh, yes. Happy Bloom Day.

Oops, almost forgot the link love--to see what else is blooming this December, check out May Dreams Gardens--as always, thanks, Carol!

32 comments:

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Wow! That's a long post ... but really great photos too. All of them were worth including.

perennialgardener said...

You still have some color in your garden with the wonderful assortment of berries and colorful foliage. Happy GBBD Cosmo! Our pets do amuse us with their silly antics, lol.

Phillip said...

Nice photos. The oakleaf hydrangea and the berries are so pretty. I don't think there are any blooms in the garden right now but I did cut some berries to decorate a yule log that I made yesterday.

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Hey Cosmos--This is a lovely assortment of images for GBBD! I also love your commentary along the way! The pyracantha berries are brilliant, and the Burford Holly is interesting--I've not seen that type before, that I remember; just the American variety. It all looks great. Especially Ranunculus!! Jan

beckie said...

You have way more tan we do in the way of green and blooms. Even if the deer did get some of them. Now that wasn't very nice!

I love all your holly and berries. Such bright spots in the garden, and so right for the Christmas season.

Frances said...

Hi Cosmo, wonderful assortment in spite of the deer damage. The weigelia is a surprise. Our tea olives were blooming but got zapped with the series of well below freezing temps we have had, hope there are more buds for later enjoyment. Thanks for the truth about the stinking hellebore, I have not gotten it because of the name! Bad plant namers! Your pyracantha berries are so red, is that Mohave? Love all the berries, I bet you have loads of happy birdies there. Ranunculus is funny smelling the flowers, or looking like it!
Frances

Jamie and Randy said...

Ranunculus, is like me, he's a glitter bug. He sure is a handsome dog. I figured he was day dreaming about chasing squirrels in warmer sunny days.

Rose said...

Cosmo, You DO have lots blooming in your garden right now! For those of us whose gardens are covered in snow or (today) ice, all these colors are a feast for the eyes.

I don't think you're being cruel--you've given Ranunculus his own little Christmas tree:)

Roses and Lilacs said...

I really like your pyracantha. When I lived in the south it was one of my favorites. I miss the holly too. This time of year I was always snipping sprigs of the plants for decorating.
Marnie

Cosmo said...

Hi, Robert--I thought when I went out with the camera I'd get maybe three shots--but then this berry led to that berry, and so on, and so on. January may be a different story.

Racquel, yeah, it's all berries and leaves these days, especially with the darn deer. I wonder if a disco ball or two might scare them away?

Cosmo said...

Thanks, Phillip. I love oakleaf hydrangeas--my "parent" plants are taller than me, and I'm propogating kids everywhere. I hope to see a post on your yule log.

Hi, Jan--I've been trying to collect some alternative hollies to the American one--we just have so much of it naturally (I appreciate that we're fortunate)--but there are so many interesting leaf shapes in hollies--

Cosmo said...

Beckie, I'm SO mad at those deer, but it's hunting seaons, so at the same time, I'm yelling at them "Stay in MY yard, it's dangerous out there!" I do love the berries--nature does holiday decorations better than I do!

Hi, Frances--I was really surprised by the tea olive blossoms. That one is up against a larger tree with a southern exposure, so I think maybe it's protected. I'm not sure what kind of pyracantha we have but it does provide lots of winter snacks for the birds. Believe it or not, Ranunculus DOES smell flowers, though I don't think he's attracted by the same scents we are . . .

Cosmo said...

Randy, It was so great to read your post about your sparklies right after I hung that disco ball. Ranunculus chases squirrels ONLY in his dreams--they've figured out he's a big chicken--the only animals that are really afraid of him are the deer (thank goodness)--the squirrles actually throw nuts and gum balls at him!

Cosmo said...

Rose, I do appreciate our relatively mild climate--but I can't WAIT for Arizona--then I'll send some color for Christmas!

Marnie--Do you all not have holly? For some reason I thought it grew in colder climates--I guess because I associate it with Christmas.

Gail said...

Happy Bloom Day to you! When you said you hadn't much bloom...I was prepared for a few flowers but you have a wonderful amount of color and good looking winter interest plantings! Yes Ranunculus does appear to be plant sniffing! ...and our pets love to entertain us!

Gail

tina said...

Sparkles are good to tire the dog out, and I think he is very tired indeed. Glad you have blooms-depite the deer! And tons of color too. I do love the color combinatioin with the ivy and heuchera. Very nice Cosmo! Have a super great day.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Deer stink! At least they missed 1. Your Pieris is going to be fantastic. They don't grow well here, but I always makes sure to visit the one at the Chicago Botanic Garden whenever I get over there. I love all your glowing red berries. Who needs flowers when you've got those. And no, I don't think it's cruel to keep a dog amused with an ornament. It's good for them!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Gail--I love foliage almost as much as I love blooms--thank goodness for evergreens! Ranunculus does love to entertain, but usually on his terms--some version of fetch--those little bits of light were a bit too much for him!

Thanks so much, Tina--every once in a while I hit on a combination that I love. You have a wonderful day, too--and a wonderful trip?

MMD, I don't recall when I discovered Pieris, but it was a long time ago and I've always loved them. They're slow growing, but I haven't found a plant that beats them for year round interest and durability--AND the deer hate them!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

What an enjoyable bloom day post. I really liked seeing everything in your garden. I grow quite a few Euphorbias anymore. They are great when it's dry outside. I haven't had any luck at all with Pieris. It perished in my garden.~~Dee

Sue said...

You have good looking foliage, berries and flowers there, and it does look like R. is smelling the flowers.

walk2write said...

Lots of color even if the flowers are absent for the most part. I was wondering about that bay laurel. Is it the same kind used for seasoning (the leaves, I mean)? I have been wanting to grow one for a long time but wondered if it would adapt to the heat and humidity here. It was always too cold up in the midwest where we used to live. I also worry about introducing something possibly invasive.

Bonnie said...

All the berries are gorgeous and I love the oak leaves thrown in there- I seem to have overlooked mine in the hunt for flowers.

Anne said...

Hi Cosmos! That's a lovely group of plants you've got there, some of my favorites... Pieris and osmanthus, delightful!

I love that your dog is named Ranunculus... and its adorable how he's mesmerized by the disco ball. I do exactly the same thing with mine.

Sue Swift said...

You say there's not much in bloom - but you've still got some beautiful spots in the garden ...

Les said...

I am glad someone has luck with Pieris. It has never done well for me. You have beautiful, bountiful berries.

Carol said...

Thanks for joining us for bloom day. I did notice that you took the pictures on a sunny day. We don't have too many of those right now, either. So, to me your garden looks lovely for this time of year.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Sarah Laurence said...

Happy Bloom Day, Cosmo! I LOVE your berries and Ranunculus's expression is priceless. Maybe he's thinking out his dance moves.

Susan Hagen said...

Lovely photos Cosmo. I'm especially fond of winter berries. My winterberries are finally large enough to make a show. I'll have to take some pics this weekend.

Bek said...

You have quite a bit to show:) I love pieris as well. I planted one of mine 2 years ago and saw for the first time last spring how great it looks with its blooms! I got a couple more after that. However, I think they need a better spot, since the sun burned the little buds.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

You have a lot of color and interest this time of year. Your dog is so cute! My greyhound is licking my hand while I'm trying to type -- which is her gentle way of saying that she needs something!

Happy Holidays!
Cameron

Chandramouli S said...

Poor Violas! Great GBBD in winter! The hollies are stars! I loved going through the pictures. Such a treat! Interesting to see entirely different species than what grows here...

Wayne Stratz said...

saw you on a blogroll along the way... cosmos is a highly favored flower in my opinion. the photos are wonderful. I can see how it was hard to choose which to post. Do you post everything in bloom during the summer? I couldn't imagine how many it would take. anyway, I should sign up and become part of the bloom day crowd.