Cold? I barely noticed.

The new amaryllis are coming into bloom and between them and mommy’s valentine’s day roses  things are looking very festive around here.  I don’t mind one bit but it’s surprising to me that the dirty flower pots at the end of the table are being tolerated as well as they are.  Usually non-edible growing things are frowned upon in the dining area.

double amaryllis red peacock

The girl picked out some nice roses this year and although red is always a valentine’s day favorite, I and hopefully others love this blend of colors even more.  The timing on the double red amaryllis also couldn’t be better, I believe it’s ‘red peacock’.

During a weak moment this winter I came across a clearance sale for amaryllis (hippeastrum) and decided to treat myself.  Treating yourself is always a good idea in December and soon enough a few new amaryllis were sitting at my door.  Since I was already buying cheap bulbs of a flower which I really don’t need, I decided to try something new and picked a few doubles and miniatures.  So far so good!

Belladonna mini amaryllis

A miniature amaryllis ‘Belladonna’.  Even more mini due to the lack of roots and long storage before planting, but still putting on a nice show.  I impressed myself by pulling some moss out of the lawn and tucking it in around the bulbs for that little bit finished look 🙂

All the amaryllis were planted in nice new terracotta pots which I’m ashamed to say required more time and effort to find than any of the actual bulbs.  Apparently clay pots are not filling the shelves during the holiday shopping season…. or at least not filling the shelves at the first three places I tried… but persistence paid off.  Hopefully the bulbs will appreciate my struggle.

As the bulbs settle in and sprout there are more things coming into bloom in the garage.  I’m especially pleased to announce the opening of my little auricula primrose.  The color is a mustardy yellow which although very ‘refined’, wouldn’t be my first choice for a show stopping color.  I love it though and am looking forward to seeing a few more blooms opening over the next few days… and hopefully having the flower stem straighten out to get rid of some of the ‘nod’ it has!

auricula under grow lights

My lovely little auricula growing under lights.  I can’t seem to do a decent job photographing yellow, but hopefully you can still make out the mealy white center which makes these flowers so distinctive.

Outside is a different story, and it’s a mix of hope and optimism as well as worry.  We had enough warmth earlier in the winter to bring on a bunch of stuff way ahead of schedule, and some of those things paid a price for their eagerness when the bottom fell out of the thermometer.  The hellebores in particular are looking sad.

freeze damage hellebore

I don’t know if this hellebore will recover to bloom this year.  It won’t die, but the freeze damage doesn’t look good.

Also sad are a few of the daffodils.  Early risers such as anything with tazetta or jonquil blood (two of the many daffodil species crossed for the hybrids we have today) were mushed back to the ground.  Some will die, but most will carry on and just have browned tips to their leaves when the blooms come up.

freeze damaged daffodils

Freeze damage on early daffodil foliage.  In spite of the way they look I think they’ll be ok.  The buds and more leaf will continue to sprout once things warm again.

The bad news is that after a few spring-like days we and the rest of the East coast are having some of the coldest nights of the winter.  I would feel much better if a nice blanket of snow covered up last weekend’s early bloomers but just a dusting of snow accompanied the cold snap.  For now ignorance is bliss and I’ll again enjoy last week’s signs of spring as we slowly warm up from a blustery low of -8F (-22C) last weekend.

wendys gold Gerald parker galanthus

‘Wendy’s Gold’ and ‘Gerard Parker’ in bloom last week.  I loved the early glimpse of spring, but this week had to scrape traces of snow off the lawn in order to pile it over them for a little extra cold protection.

I should know later this week if there is any damage to my snowdrop treasures.  I remain optimistic, but sadly enough in years past I have had it that drops have died from a late season arctic blast, and these bloom are far along, and this cold snap is severe.  But what can you do?  Wendy and Gerard got a box over them but I’m not ready to go all over the yard covering things for each cold snap.  These bulbs will have to show their true colors.

galanthus magnet snowdrop

Galanthus ‘magnet’.  This one’s on his own so I’ve got my fingers crossed for these next few days.  If worse comes to worse I’ll be able to try ‘magnet’ again from a different source, since I’m not positive this one’s correctly labeled.

Wish my bulbs luck.  If they do survive I will never underestimate the hardiness of some of these earliest bloomers.

winter aconite

Last week’s show of the aptly named winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis).  I love this pale version of the usual bright yellow.

As a backup plan I’ll start a few more seeds this week.  Empty ground is always a good reason for new plants, and if worse comes to worse there are always annuals 🙂

44 comments on “Cold? I barely noticed.

  1. Beautiful indoor blooms….I was lucky in that the weather never warmed enough for much to start growing…and we had lots of snow to help protect those that starting growing from the -20F temps of late….perhaps the hellebore will put on new growth again.

    • bittster says:

      For as much as people complain about snow, it really is the best friend of most gardeners! -20F…. yuck. Glad those lows didn’t make it our way, and I hope the upcoming warm spell makes it to your garden as well. It might not be the best thing for the plants but some sunshine really does wonders for the gardener’s spirit 🙂

  2. I think the yellow of your new little auricula primrose is charming! Congratulations, “Papa”! Sorry to hear about the lack of snow combined with the Arctic winter blast, though. That’s always a really, really tough combination for plants to handle. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    • bittster says:

      thanks Cynthia, I think your crossed fingers helped because I haven’t yet seen much damage from the cold. A few snowdrop blooms have withered but everything else seems unimpressed by the cold and wind.
      Today is a much nicer day though and the longer range forecast look promising. I think spring is gaining strength!

  3. Oh, that pale yellow eranthis has won my heart. Did you just luck out or is that a specific cultivar you hunted down? I am like Donna in that it never got warm enough to coax much into bloom. I hope you are pleasantly surprised by rebounding plants. And your primrose looks a better shade of yellow than “mustard” to me.

    • bittster says:

      I got lucky with the eranthis and a friend helped me out. I’m glad it’s doing well since the regular species has sulked where I planted it and another darker orange plant which I bought died…
      So far so good with the rebounding plants though. I think we had just enough of a snowfall to help them out, and the length of the cold snap was short enough not to bother them too much, so now as long as things stay in the double digits at least, I think I’ll be ok until March 🙂

  4. johnvic8 says:

    You are doing quite well for -20. Very lovely.

  5. Chloris says:

    Oh dear! I don’t think I have experienced such intense cold. I always thought snowdrops and hellebores were indestructible; the worst they do here is hang their heads for a while. How disheartening for you, it is a good thing you have your garage treasures. Your auricula is lovely and I love your winter aconites. Lucky Mrs Bittster with such a magnificent bouquet of roses.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Chloris. The cold does sound horrible as I look back on it, but then again there were people North of us dealing with even worse. I should be grateful but do enjoy a good bout of self pity here and there and wish I could have a hedge of blooming camellia or fragrant honeysuckle to enjoy rather than ice crystals 🙂

  6. Cathy says:

    That is really cold, Frank. I hope not too much has started sprouting and been damaged. I tidied up a few leaves and twigs off my rockery at the weekend and found quite a few perennials coming up already, although my bulbs are really slow this year. Your auricula is quite pretty, and that Amaryllis is gorgeous. I have never seen a dwarf one before – great idea as mine always tend to lean in one direction regardless where they stand! The pale aconite is lovely as well.

    • bittster says:

      Things have warmed up considerably this weekend and I was even looking at the front border and considering a cleanup. My neighbors will surely shake their heads, but the early bulbs will be much happier for it! Fortunately things weathered the cold quite well.
      The dwarf amaryllis is a little misleading. The first to bloom did so on nice short stalks, but the next one appears to be determined to flower at regular height… and lean all over of course 🙂 Maybe next year will be a different story, but I think the short part will only be something to enjoy this winter….

  7. Lisa Rest says:

    I guess it’s an ongoing study to see how every living species copes with climate change. I know, I know, it’s only weather, but I think we’re all starting to realize the two are related. Beautiful blooms, so cheery this time of year when we are all craving color. And yes that cold snap was nasty.

    • bittster says:

      So far it appears only plants from other parts of the world are having trouble with the ups and downs of the weather in my garden. I have faith it won’t be the thermometer that does the native plants in here…. unfortunately introduced insect pests, blights and fungus are a different story. Loss of habitat, habitat disruption… it goes on and on and none of it seems positive.

  8. Julie says:

    Non edibles are not usually tolerated here either, its lovely when you can sneak them in and no one complains! I am sorry to read of your temperatures, that sounds ghastly for plants, humans and wildlife. Your Amaryllis look lovely in the terracotta pots, I’d say it was definitely worth the search. I hope temperatures rise again for you soon.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Julie. The temperatures have gone up in the past few days and it’s downright pleasant outside in the sun this morning. I’ll have to move my inside plants along and get them all blooming since once things begin to move outside the indoor plantings get neglected, and if the forecast is accurate things will begin to move shortly!

  9. Christina says:

    Definitely worth the effort to source terra-cotta pots, and I’m impressed with the lovely green moss. Your temperatures sound devastating. Keep warm and positive.

    • bittster says:

      Every now and then I get a little irritated by the insect and weather damage, but fortunately there’s enough elsewhere to distract me and keep the outlook positive!
      The terra cotta pots always surprise me. They’re plain and downright cheap but they’re timeless, and I love the fact they’re made in Italy which you wouldn’t think, would you.

  10. rusty duck says:

    That is cold. Keeping my fingers crossed for you Frank. Wherever we are the weather seems to be an increasing problem. My aconites have drowned.

    • bittster says:

      Good luck on your aconites, hopefully next year they will stand a chance and hopefully next year you won’t have the same relentless rain and gloom….. or snails and slugs which follow.
      Of course there are always the pheasants and now apparently deer!? A gardener’s lot is always filled with highs and plenty of lows 🙂

  11. Peter/Outlaw says:

    You just can’t catch a break with the weather this year. First the never-ending autumn and now this arctic blast. Yuk! Sorry that so many of your lovlies got nipped by the cold. Your amaryllis are looking great!

    • bittster says:

      Haha, but I do love to complain about the weather, so maybe this is an ideal winter for me! That’s a lot easier to say now since it looks like we and the plants have made it through the worst of the weather 🙂

  12. All I can say about this winter is. “Ugh!” Daffodils coming up just after Christmas, the ground not freezing until February, no snow to speak of! Just ugh! I did clip all the branches off the Christmas tree and covered up the newest and most delicate perennials, and then when we had our “blizzard” (2 inches here!), I actually carried shovels full of snow over to some of the gardens to give them some extra protection. Hopefully that is helping them endure the swing from -14 on Saturday to +50 on Tuesday!

    • bittster says:

      Good to hear from you Kimberley 🙂
      It has been a weird one hasn’t it? For a while I wasn’t sure if it would ever actually get cold enough to freeze the ground… but then it did, and now I’m wondering if it’s going to be an annoyingly long and drawn out death as winter hangs on forever…. or not. Maybe we will get lucky!
      I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one out there shoveling snow onto flower beds! We didn’t have much either so I had to resort to little ‘snowcones’ on each plant I wanted to protect.

  13. Also, your Amaryllises look great! I have one new one this year who is about to open–Brazza is its name, and seven or eight from previous years are on their way. As far as roses, I’ve personally always preferred either a bunch of pale pink in a cloud of baby’s breath, or a mixed bouquet, such as your daughter helped choose. Good job!

    • I should also say how nice your Winter Garden is looking, with the cyclamen and the primrose. Yellow is hard to photograph, but it came out well for you. Jealous of your winter aconite. I’ve tried it several times in different places in my yard, and it has never bloomed. And of course, the snow drops are lovely! I’m sure you’re tickled pink to see them!

      • bittster says:

        Funny you should mention the problems with photographing yellow, I was just searching the topic this morning trying to find any helpful hints before daffodil season comes along!
        I bet a few of these primrose would do very well in your yard by the rock wall… assuming you can hold back the ferns long enough for them to get a foothold. Just saying since they’re likely to die a droughty death here on my rocky hilltop 🙂

      • Yes, I think they would do well there. They’d bloom before the ferns take over, and the ferns would then keep them shaded and protected from the hot afternoon sun later in the summer! I do have one of your yellow primroses planted up in the lasagna bed; hopefully it has survived the vagaries of this winter’s weather!

      • bittster says:

        I forgot about that primrose! I’m sure it will do very well this spring.
        I wish there was a damp spot in my yard, even the wetter areas dry out completely during the summer and are entirely primrose-unfriendly.

    • bittster says:

      She did pick a nice bunch of roses, didn’t she? and she makes a decision much quicker than I do 🙂
      You have quite the amaryllis collection! I hope you get the chance to put a few photos online, I’d love to see them…. and I’m hoping you might have a few orchids again 😉

  14. Indie says:

    I didn’t even know there were miniature amaryllis! Very cute! Your snowdrops are lovely. I hope they make it through the cold snap! I have some snowdrops planted in the yard, but haven’t seen any trace of them this year during our warm spell. I hope I didn’t bury them too deeply in mulch this year!

    • bittster says:

      Your snowdrops should be just fine, even if you did go extra heavy on the mulch so I hope they are still yet to come. I have a few which haven’t yet appeared even with the early ones in full bloom. They’re a much more diverse group than you would think.
      Judging by my latest mini amaryllis, they might have small blooms but the stalk is going just as tall as the regular ones. If I get them to bloom again next year I might be looking at a forest of stalks…. which wouldn’t be all bad, but the shorter ones sure are a lot less trouble!

  15. Love your auricula and the snowdrops, and am envious (as always) of the blooming eranthis. No sign of mine yet, but it’s only been 24 hours since the departure of the “snow blanket” so maybe there’s hope!

    • bittster says:

      Any signs of aconites? The warm weather here today brought things along quite a bit and made it feel downright springy. The only downside is things which looked fine this morning are now showing freeze damage as they thaw out completely. Win some lose some I guess.

  16. John says:

    I do like seeing the primrose reminder of what will come outside (eventually!). You are getting a very nice collection of snowdrops. I’m sure they will weather the cold nights. Do you know which pale Eranthis you have. I’m starting a few new ones from seed this year.

    • bittster says:

      I’m enjoying the primrose this year, it amazes me that the weak little seedlings I grew last summer managed to put any blooms out at all considering their neglect!
      The snowdrops are becoming quite a problem. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t need too many repeats of the same old white and green theme…. but then I add another 🙂
      The pale eranthis are from a friend and originally collected from an old estate. I believe the cultivar ‘Lightning’ was found in the same location. I’d offer seeds but looking at their condition this afternoon I believe they received much more cold damage than I first thought….

  17. Oh, no! My Hellebores look like that, maybe worse. Don’t tell me they won’t bloom this year!

  18. What beautiful Valentine’s Day gifts! The roses and amaryllis are gorgeous. And as always, your over-wintered plants are thriving. I live close enough to you to experience the same bizarre winter weather. My daffodils shot up and are now a frozen mess. My hellebores are faring a bit better though — the buds on one of them don’t seem to be damaged. El Nino has a lot to answer for. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I think we will all be scolding El Nino for a few more weeks. I don’t mind the mild spells but the drops into the arctic range throw me off completely. I can already see a hard frost in May damaging all the new growth…
      I of course only show the good. There are plenty of casualties this year in the overwintering department 🙂

  19. A sever cold snap did in my snowdrops too. I never replaced them since they are tiny and bloom when I am not in the garden ever. Like you, I am not about to cover up any plant at this time of year. Annuals in spring might get row cover with late frost, but mostly I take the chance on them too. That is one advantage of city living. Almost always a zone warmer in my garden.

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