Out With The Old

Let me start with getting one thing off my chest.  The daffodils are still unplanted.  There, that was easy.

The weather was beautiful last weekend so we decorated for Christmas, we hung a ridiculous number of lights, and we (and I’m leaning more towards the less plural I on this one) cleaned up most of the basement of all the nonsense and clutter that kids can accumulate.  Then in the midst of a pandemic we drove to Longwood to enjoy the Christmas display.  Of course there will be judgements on safety but for now we’re all still healthy and it’s the weather which has taken a turn towards the worse.   On a miserable afternoon I’d rather rush out and capture a few last joys of the 2020 garden season rather than actually do something productive.  Maybe tomorrow will be different…

hardy fall camellia ashtons supreme

‘Ashton’s Supreme’ is growing in a pot and has already moved into the garage for the next few nights.  It may be hardy, and someday I may put it to the test, but for now I’d rather he avoid the frosts and snow.

I’m excited to see my only fall blooming camellia opening up a few flowers before it gets too cold.  It’s one thing enjoying them for a few hours in another garden, but to have one of your own to really drown in for as long as you want… and then to make excuses to go out and see every few hours… well that’s a whole different story.  Currently the plan has ‘Ashton’s Supreme’ spending the coldest months in the winter garden, staying potted, and then some day moving to the open garden when either (1)he gets too big or (2)global warming shifts me just one more zone South.  Obviously there’s also a good chance that (3)the gardener kills Ashton,  but for just $30 from Camellia Forest Nursery I’m already thrilled with how far I’ve come.

container bog garden

The question of the bog garden.  Shelter in place or quarantine elsewhere?

I’m also somewhat thrilled over how the bog garden’s pitcher plants have recovered from some questionable overwinering techniques from last year.  Someone just picked up an old saucepan from the sandbox, lifted the pitchers from the bog and put them in the pan, and then placed the whole embarrassment next to the compost pile under a few sheltering branches.   They lived, but this year I’m not sure if I shouldn’t try something different.  Or just do nothing.  Nothing is pretty easy, and it’s been working for the daffodils so far.

jack and the beanstalk bean

The sword beans (Canavalia gladiata) have been picked and brought into the garage to hopefully ripen the seeds.  Maybe I’ll get lucky, but maybe I won’t since they’re still mighty green.

Last year seemed much more full of November projects and plenty which bridged over into December, but this year I’m quite fine with calling a time, nailing a lid on 2020, and announcing the start of the 2021 gardening season.  Hello snowdrops is what I’m going to say next, and of course I’m excited!

elwesii monostictus hiemalis motrose

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus ‘Hiemalis Group’ ex. Montrose.  An appropriately big name for what is commonly referred to as the giant snowdrop (in this case a fall blooming version).

Mani over at the Miserable Gardener has observed that the guy he lives with takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in rattling off the name of this first snowdrop of my new year.  I’ve begun to enjoy it now as well, and although I may still need to tweek quotes and capitalizations to be completely proper I’m not going to let ignorance stand in my way.  Ignorance seems to be very ‘in’ these days so I might as well call it what I want, right? -who am I kidding… I can’t stand ignorance, so please correct me if you can.

galanthus three ships

Galanthus ‘Three Ships’ is leaving port earlier than ever and holding the possibility of an open bloom by Christmas.  That would be a first, and of course I would be thrilled.

Let me close by saying this last photo has me most excited.  I keep thinking this snowdrop phase will pass but as of yet not luck.  Once in the summer of 2019 there was a point when I almost said I wasn’t thinking about snowdrops, and then just a few months ago I turned down the offer of a bulb or two because “I had too many other plants needing attention”, but now I’m back to obsessed.  ‘Three Ships’ looks healthier than ever and honestly for a flower which blooms here in January, anything better than dead is quite an achievement in my opinion.

Let the season begin!

31 comments on “Out With The Old

  1. Lookin’ pretty good for the beginning of December. Congrats on the camellia. Got any Christmas roses blooming?

    • bittster says:

      I have one Christmas rose with a little bud. It’s the first time it will be blooming and I’m not sure when (or if) it will open… Christmas would be nice lol

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow that camellia is a beauty. If you have room you should definitely bring it in. It is exciting to see your galanthus beginning to show. Bring em on…

    • bittster says:

      I braved the camellia outside last night and the thermometer went down to 30F so hopefully all is well. It’s supposed to be ok for two more nights, but after that it’s moving in to the winter garden.
      I’m starting to poke around for snowdrop sprouts even though it’s still too early, but it gives me something pointless to do while I’m avoiding real work 😉

  3. Deborah Banks says:

    How are all you folks already on December 5th? Have you moved to India without letting me know? When I post this, maybe I’ll be transported there too!

    • bittster says:

      Look at that! You were transported to 2:46am on the fifth. I hope you’re not too tired tomorrow after losing that time 🙂
      I think my blog is set for some European time zone. I bet I could easily change it somehow but you know… gotta get those daffodils in the ground.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Camellias and snowdrops, AND a trip to Longwood? Dang, life is good! 🙂

  5. Pauline says:

    Wonderful that your winter flowers have started, my first snowdrops are getting earlier too, Faringdon Double was out in November, never known that before. Your Camellia is beautiful, hope it proves to be hardy with you.

    • bittster says:

      Yes the early snowdrops are exciting! For us here they never flowered in the fall, the cold would always have them waiting until spring. Actually for a while I would get disgusted hearing how other gardeners ‘discovered’ a few fall bloomers in each bag of new bulbs they planted. But then we had our first long autumn and I saw a few pop up here and there, and now it happens more often than not.

  6. Paddy Tobin says:

    I couldn’t be without snowdrops at this time of the year. They appear and brighten the garden at what is a most miserable time. Galanthus elwesii var monostictus ‘Barnes’ has been in flower for a long time here and G. ‘Faringdon Double’ also – though not opening well as the weather has been cold. G. ‘Mrs Macnamara’ is open with G. ‘Castlegar’, ‘Colossus’ and ‘Three Ships’ nearly there. There are lots and lots of snouts around the garden but they will be delayed by the cold weather. And then, we will be into the main season with more and more opening. Yesterday brought one of those happy moments – I had propagated a find of my own, a yellow-flowered plicatus, by twin-scaling – and the shoots are all peeping above ground, so I’m very happy with myself. That’s the value of snowdrops!

    • bittster says:

      How exciting to see your own twinscales coming up, and even better that it’s a unique treasure from your own garden! I also get ridiculously excited to see anything new open up. I had my first intentional seedling flower for the first time this spring and although it was probably the ugliest little thing I could imaging it was still fun. Maybe the second year flowering will bring it into the average category, fortunately there are more seedlings on the way.
      For as hardy as snowdrops can be some of the earlier ones do not hold up to our weather. ‘Three Ships’ was a surprising success but ‘Mrs. Macnamara’ always suffers damage. ‘Barnes’ amazes me with perfect flowers which hold up to the weather, but the foliage really takes a beating and I don’t understand how it continues to do so well.
      Over the years I’ve sent a few early ones to better gardens in the south. I might ask for a few back and try them again since our winters have become so much milder.
      Snowdrops and witch hazels keep me sane while everything else is dormant.

  7. Ian Lumsden says:

    I have planted narcissus in December and they have flowered late, lasted for a shorter time but reverted to normal the following year.

  8. Cathy says:

    A gorgoues camellia and glad to see the drops appearing already. 😃 I still haven’t been bitten by the galanthophile bug, but is there a word for people obsessed with hellebores….? 😉

  9. Frank, I am so ready for 2020 to be over as well. I’ve just ordered a snowdrop from Carolyn in PA. Alas I forgot to set an alarm to remind me when to go online to shop, so lost out on the ones at the top of my list. Can’t wait to see what yours do in my garden. I had a brilliant Thanksgiving Hellebore this year and ordered four flats of Carex pennsylvanica which has 2021 off to a good start. And it keeps me from thinking of D.C. Can’t wait to see your Ships come in.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, it’s fun to see your obsession grow! Correct me if I’m wrong but years back when I was first getting started in snowdrops I think I came across a post describing your first snowdrop foray and I think you concluded that many of them are just too similar but that you loved them anyway. I’ll have to go look and see if I can find it!
      I have a seedling Christmas rose someone gave to me this spring. It’s just sending up a flower now, but a Thanksgiving one would be pretty exciting! (and a lot safer than flowering in December).
      I was about five hours late in looking at Carolyn’s list and the ‘sold out’ notes were all over the place! Good to hear you managed to score at least one of the wants.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, and Carex is another growing obsession of mine too! LOL!

  10. Chloris says:

    I am impressed by your pitcher’s plants. Mine live in the greenhouse and never look so happy. Snowdrop obsession is always seasonal, in summer I wonder what it’s all about. But now… I’m excited to see if my ‘Three ships’ will make it for Christmas. And I’m sure I will be adding a few more at great expense.

    • bittster says:

      Perhaps yours are too happy to want to bother coloring up. Mine are always a few steps short of death and it annoys me that they can grow on nothing yet I can’t keep them satisfied. I’m sure it’s my shady wintering over practices, but I’m not so confident they can handle the full brunt of winter out in the open.
      I will only confess this to you, but I did already spend a few more dollars on snowdrops this summer. It was the right thing to do since I wanted to support small businesses, but some people will of course jump to conclusions about ‘obsessions’ and ‘snowdrop problems’.

  11. Annette says:

    Oh snowdrops! How lovely 🙂 My daffodils have all been planted and I’m glad about it because it’s cold and miserable and the thought of having to plant any bulbs gives me the creeps 😉 Your camellia is delightful. My sasanqua was covered in flowers this year, a sight to behold. Good luck with the planting!

    • bittster says:

      Oh how I would love a camellia covered in flowers, it sounds so exotic!
      Fortunately I’m blessed with an ability to shrug off gardening responsibilities and regrets, and on a disgustingly cold and icy morning I can easily ignore unplanted bulbs with a quick thought of easy come, easy go 😉
      Actually next week is supposed to be colder for us, so a sensible gardener would get it done today…

  12. Congrats on the camellia! Like you, I was thrilled to be able to enjoy flowers on my ‘Winter’s Snowman’ for an entire week (yay!) this year — last November, every single bud got turned into frozen mush before opening. And… autumn flowering snowdrops?? What? Where?? **ears/eyes perking up**

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