Our Days Are Numbered

There’s an impending air of doom hanging over the garden, and the threat of next week taints everything.  The Cubs winning the World Series was likely the first sign of the apocalypse and now I can only imagine what next Wednesday could bring.  Our current stretch of warm weather has me even more nervous since as we know from high school science, freezing is an exothermic process and on the chance that Hell has indeed frozen over science would predict that things up here on the surface would warm up as a result.  I’ve never hoped for a cold snap more, even if it means losing the last of the autumn flowers.

late chrysanthemum

The latest of my seedling chrysanthemums.  This one’s not as hardy as the rest but does well enough up near the foundation.

The last of the autumn leaves are really hanging on in the warmth.  This red maples along the fence is always my favorite with its sunset blend of reds, oranges, and yellows.  As the days go on it will hopefully fade to pale yellow with red highlights before finally covering the lawn with a carpet of next year’s mulch and compost.

maple fall foliage

For most of the year I resent the greedy water stealing roots of this pesky red maple (Acer rubrum), but for a few days in autumn I forgive it and soak up every glowing minute of its final foliage show.

Closer to the ground the earliest (or latest, depending on your perspective) bulbs are beginning to show signs of growth.  My absolute favorite right this moment is the fall blooming snowdrop a friend of mine brought back for me from Nancy Goodwin’s Montrose Gardens in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  I love a plant with a story and this one has a good one.  Its full name is Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus Hiemalis group ex. Montrose and to be honest I love writing that one out.  It’s the nerdy Latin way of describing a fall blooming snowdrop with a single green mark that comes to me via Montrose Gardens.  This one and its thousands of sisters are all the descendants of a handful of bulbs Mrs. Goodwin purchased decades ago at a local hardware store.  They say the rest is history, but in this case it’s a history which required years of division and transplanting as the bulbs were slowly spread across her acres of woodland.  The bulbs now make an unparalleled show each autumn around Thanksgiving and I wouldn’t rule out some day making the eight hour trip to see it in person.  Such are the dreams of the obsessed, but if you’d like more information have a look at this NY Times article on a visit to the gardens, and also consider looking up Nancy Goodwin’s book “Montrose: Life in a Garden” for a monthly chronicle of the gardens.  She was also a big fan of the Cyclamen family and grows thousands of them as well.  That’s my kind of gardener.

fall galanthus elwesii monostctus

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus Hiemalis group ex. Montrose.  Yeah.

Besides fall blooming snowdrops, there was also an October surprise here when my two auricula primrose insisted on sending up a few autumn flower stalks.  I’d rather they waited until spring since the flowers don’t look nearly as big or nice as the could, but my hope is they really liked their repotting and are only just ramping up to an even more amazing show in March under the growlights…. unless they’re planning on dying, which is always another possibility for plants in my care.

primula auricula

A pair of primula.  Primula auricula hybrids to be exact.  The yellow had bloomed before but this is the first flower for the brownish one, and I’m pleased with the color.

Some other final color in the garden is the Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydons Favorite’.  It waits until the very end of the season and carries it out with a clear lavender blue color and attractive dark eyes as the flowers fade.  I should really give it a little more room and respect next year, and not let it suffer all summer crowded and untended while the summer annuals steal the show.

Aster oblongifolius 'Raydons Favorite'

Amidst the mildew decay of fading peony foliage and frosted zinnias, Aster ‘Raydons Favorite’ offers up fresh color for this part of the border.  I think more would be a good idea.

I can’t do a late fall post without slipping in a cyclamen or two.  They’re sending out more and more of their beautiful foliage and while other parts of the garden are fading, these go from strength to strength.  I may have to talk to John Lonsdale about adding a few new ones since you can never have too many of these treasures and he always seems to have a few special ones for sale at Edgewood Gardens.

cyclamen hederifolium

The hardy Cyclamen hederifolium starts flowering without foliage in late summer.  I love it even more when the leaves begin to come up and there are still plenty of blooms to accent them.

The range of foliage types in Cyclamen hederifolium is really outstanding.  The dainty and distinct flowers are almost more of an afterthought.

A pale pink form of Cyclamen hederifolium with a leaf pattern which I love.

A pale pink form of Cyclamen hederifolium with a leaf pattern which I love.

For the moment I may have resisted adding any new Cyclamen but don’t be under the false impression I’ve resisted all the other goodies which can be found during fall planting season… or even better found during autumn clearance sales.  For some reason I found the Santa Rosa clearance sale (still going on btw, and don’t miss out on the additional 20% off coupon code) and discovered I needed more grasses and a trio of carnivorous pitcher plants.  Who knew?

Sarracenia from santa rosa gardens

Three new bog plants (Sarracenia) for the bog I don’t have.  Hopefully I can keep them happy elsewhere since they’re so absolutely cool with their sinister insect trapping pitchers.

As I go on and on about new plants I won’t even mention the tulips which need planting, the daffodils which need replanting, and the projects which need finishing before the bottom drops out of this pleasant autumn weather.  Let’s hope that’s the only thing which the bottom drops out of this week.

Have a good one!

Goodnight Cyclamen

There’s royalty in some plants, and I’m pretty sure cyclamen carry these bloodlines.  Obviously (to me at least) the queen of the family is the tender greenhouse cyclamen (from the c. persicum line), with her bright fancy flowers and her holiday appropriate bright colors, but the other members of the family all deserve equally elite titles.  Lets start with the king who lives in my garden and goes by the name of Cyclamen hederifolium.  His crowning glory is the diversity of exotic patterns and varied shapes which his winter-hardy foliage takes on.

hardy cyclamen hederifolium foliage

A kaleidoscope of hardy Cyclamen hederifolium foliage.

The round corms of this plant sit dormant underground for most of the summer until about August when the first flowers start coming up to dapple the shaded bed where they grow.  The pink or white flowers are nice enough, but as soon as they fade the ground begins to grow a covering of the beautiful cyclamen leaves.  They love the cool temperatures of autumn and as the rest of the garden drops its leaves the cyclamen bed takes on its winter silver and green foliage blanket.

cyclamen hederifolium narrow silver foliage

Leaf shapes for the king vary from wide to narrow, rounded to more of an ivy (Hedera) leaf shape.  Here’s a nice narrow leaved silver form.

The leaves will stay for the winter, and with a good snow cover look as fresh as ever when the snow retreats.  It’s only in late spring that the leaves die back and the plant goes dormant again, and because of this it’s a plant I think is perfect for filling in those dark, boring mulch beds under deciduous trees who’s shade is too dark for anything else.

hardy cyclamen hederifolium foliage

hardy cyclamen hederifolium foliage

If the king likes the spot he’ll form a nice colony as seedlings fill in.  Any winter-vacant spot is fair game for a clump of C. hederifolium seedlings, and I’m beginning to see them come up in all sorts of spaces, even the lawn.

hardy cyclamen hederifolium silver foliage

The tiny leaves at the center of the clumps are new seedlings from last year’s flowering.  Even on the smallest seedling leaf the foliage patterns begin to show off.

I’d like to give different parts of the garden over to some of the more unique foliage patterns and see what shows up.  In the far back of the yard I have this white blooming, green and silver leafed form.

hardy cyclamen hederifolium foliage

This Cyclamen hederifolium has a brighter green color when compared to its relatives.  It’s always nice to have something a little different.

Another form which could be really interesting (and I think already is really interesting) is this purple tinted foliage form.  When fall temperatures drop, a purple wash bleeds through the foliage and the plant takes on an entirely new look.  I’ve only got a few weakly colored examples, but some I’ve seen have a bright pink and purple color which looks great.

cyclamen hederifolium purple tinted foliage

Pink highlights on Cyclamen hederifolium foliage.

The bold C. hederifolium dominates the shade right now, but other hardy cyclamen also carry on the family name throughout the garden.  Princess coum will grow in the same beds as the king, but in the long run is crowded out be his overbearing ways.  Her waterlily shaped foliage is less intricate than the king’s but still shows off the silver marbling of the family and as is befitting of a princess she is covered with jewel like blooms as soon as the snow melts.

hardy cyclamen coum

Hardy cyclamen coum, a princess of the cyclamen family.

For the past two years as snowpocalypse has hit the east coast the delicate princess coum lost all her leaves and nearly all blooms, but has always bounced right back.  King hederifolium suffered a bit but mearly shrugged it off during the summer, but there’s a third family member in my garden who didn’t skip a beat.  Prince (or maybe Duke, I’m kind of losing my way here) purpurascens seems to be the hardiest of the bunch.  I’ve seen Cyclamen purpurascens listed as less hardy than the other two, but in my experience he’s never been bothered by low temperatures (although we usually have some snow cover) and although he’s the slowest of the bunch (even seeds take over a year to mature) C. purpurascens is reliable.  He doesn’t even lose his leaves in the summer.

hardy cyclamen purpurascens foliage

A sloppy planting of hardy Cyclamen purpurascens.  The leaves are similar to C. coum, yet slightly sturdier and have more of a veinier marbling.

This morning marks the last day of Christmas vacation and the first day in which temperatures have dropped low enough to freeze the top crust of soil.  Neither of these are something I look forward to but you get what you get, and even if that means a low of 8F (-13C) tomorrow nothing short of an early retirement and move down south will change things.  So today I say goodnight to my outdoor cyclamen as they slip under the blanket of their winter sleep.

The royal family will carry on though, and if you want a bigger and more diverse intro give Jon Lonsdale’s Edgewood Gardens a visit.  Besides growing and showing many of the other, less hardy members of the royal family, most of the plants are available for sale and I’m certain you won’t find a better selection elsewhere on the East coast.

The Winter Garden 2014/15

My winter garden is having a good season so far.  Usually I don’t bother setting things up until around New Year’s but this season the shop lights went on in October for some special cuttings, and things have been humming along since.  The hardy cyclamen coum which I keep potted up are just starting to put on a show, and now that I’ve dispatched Mr. Mouse the blooms can open in peace.

winter garden under lights

The “Winter Garden” with cyclamen coum in bloom. I love the flowers alongside the bright variegated leaves of the plectranthus (probably ‘Troy’s Gold’).

For those of you who might not be as up to date with my garden as you’d like 🙂 here are a few statistics on the tiny little patch of plants which serves as my winter garden.  Basically it’s a four tube fluorescent shop light set up in an unheated workshop just off the back of the cool (never freezing) garage.  The bulbs are a generic T-8 type, usually in the ‘daylight’ or ‘natural light’ category but it really just depends on what I grab the day I’m shopping for lights.  That’s it.  Not quite a citrus filled orangerie or a warm, sunny conservatory, but it does the trick on a dark January evening.  I’m considering buying a few more and lining the side of the room with them in order to grow something bigger and fragrant.  A little goldfish pool back there wouldn’t bother me much either, might as well put a fountain in while I’m at it.

hardy cyclamen growing indoors under lights

Another two or so weeks and the cyclamen should really put on a nice show.

Last year I had a bunch of snowdrops and some early spring blooming perennial purchases from Far Reaches Farm.  They were awesome but this year I spent my winter treat money a few months too early and had to improvise, so on a warm December afternoon I went out and dug up a clump of almost completely frozen primula vulgaris for forcing.

forcing primrose

They needed dividing anyway, which eventually I did…. after letting them thaw out and sit in the dark for a week or so (not a recommended of course, but you know how things can get away from you during the holidays!)

A month later and they’re starting to wake up.  They probably won’t have as long a bloom season as some of the newer hybrid types, but I love their soft yellow color and big clumps of blooms.

primula vulgaris forced

One of the primula divisions coming along.  Fingers crossed for a good show!  (please ignore the dying coleus next to it.  Cold weather, overwatering and coleus are not a good mix)

I have a new favorite celebration.  As any Northern hemisphere gardener will know, the winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the point beyond which days lengthen and the march into spring begins.  But gardeners also know we don’t rush out in January and start planting.  It takes a while for the sun to catch up, shake off winter, and get things going again.  According to the ever interesting blog at MacGardens, the turning point for this is the January 21st celebration of ‘post-solstice’.  One month after winter solstice and the sun is starting to turn the tide of winter, bringing soil temperatures back from their lowest point (happening somewhere around Jan 21st) back up into the civilized range.  Speaking of civilized, check out MacGardens for a special treat of cool plants, exotic alpines, and just plain old interesting gardening.

cyclamen coum potted

I’m always trying to get out of the ‘average’ category of photography. Here’s one of my favorite cyclamen coum which I attempted to set up for a nice portrait.

Until post-solstice kicks in and we can again search for signs of life outdoors I’ll stick to the indoor garden.  With more snow on the way tonight I think that’s the best plan.  Here’s another plant making me happy sheltering from the storm under lights, it’s a variegated ice plant (dorotheanthus bellidiformis, probably ‘mezoo trailing red’).  Not to ‘out’ my slacker gardening, but the cuttings might have been hastily thrown on a workbench back in November when the first hard frost hit.  They sat there unplanted for at least a month until I got around to potting them up and don’t seem to have minded at all.  Surviving rootless on a table for over a month ranks well on my plant-o-meter.

dorotheanthus bellidiformis 'mezoo trailing red'

Variegated ice plant finally living the good life with soil and water (and plenty of roots- I checked)

A few snowdrops weren’t stolen out of their pots or had their heads nibbled off by the late Mr. Mouse, so February should be off to a good, post-solstice, start.  In either case I’m just happy that there’s already a bit of light on the horizon when I pull into work, and a rosy glow to the sky when I walk out!

Why wait for spring?

I’m halfway enjoying fall this year.  Yes, everything is dying, it’s too dry, and we face months of snowy gloom, but right now the fall bulbs are blooming and it’s a little bit of rebirth right before *the end* (sorry but I will never actually look forward to the arrival of winter).  The hardy cyclamen, in this case cyclamen hederifolium, have been blooming for several weeks now.

naturalized cyclamen

I was ambitious this year and spread a little shredded wood mulch around the cyclamen bed. For a while it looked immaculate under the cherry….. but within minutes the dirty little tree resumed its leaf dropping….

Last winter the polar vortex was brutal on these little guys.  Fortunately they’ve shrugged off the foliage loss and act as if nothing at all happened.  I wish I had clearer photos, but out of the dozens of cyclamen pictures I took, these were the only two which came out halfway in focus.  I need a photo mentor who can begin to point out some of my worst mistakes 🙂

hardy cyclamen hederifolium

For me the best thing about these hardy cyclamen hederifolium are the leaf patterns, but the flowers aren’t too shabby either….

Cyclamen are the best, but colchicums follow at a close second.  Actually the colchicums do put on a more impressive show, but it’s all or nothing with these ladies, and ends more quickly than the slow and steady cyclamen display.

colchicum flower bed

Most of my favorite colchicums are together in this bed. It’s bone dry (the third gooseberry bush actually died this summer) but the bulbs seem right at home.

I’ve devoted the way-too-dry-for-vegetables end of the veggie patch to colchicums and daffodils, and they seem happy enough here, but as the garden grows I’m thinking there might be something better to do with this spot for the other 11 months of the year.  Amaranthus once filled the bed, but the soil was too dry for them to survive this summer.

colchicum '‘Harlekijn’ 'Harlequin'

New this year, colchicum ‘‘Harlekijn’ is what I’d call “interesting”. Most pictures show more pink to the bloom, but that might change from year to year. Overall I like the curious rolled (or quilled) petals and they do make for something ‘different’ 🙂

The few colchicums I have planted in the meadow seem just as happy and to my eye look a little more comfortable growing amongst the barely green grass.  In fact the only bulb of colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ to bloom for me is this one planted in the lawn.

colchicum autumnale 'Pleniflorum'

The colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ planted in the official colchicum bed don’t bother blooming. This one in the lawn seems marginally more happy and is even gracing us with the sprouting of a second flower bud.

The (I think ) ‘Lilac Wonder’ planted in the lawn is possibly my favorite colchicum.  It blooms long, large, and heavily and makes quite the pool of color.  I’m thinking next summer might see a lot of these moving around, since they’ve multiplied like rabbits and are ready for dividing, but it’s not something I want to tackle this fall.

colchicum 'lilac wonder' in lawn

Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ growing happily in the (now mowed) meadow.

You might be wondering why I’m even talking about moving flowering bulbs in the fall.  According to what I’ve read and heard (and done) colchicums are ok to move while in bloom.  It’s probably better to wait till the foliage dies in the summer and the bulbs are dormant, but I’m more of a do it while you remember kind of guy, and it’s much easier (and more fun) to move them while in bloom.  You can’t always be a slave to your plants you know, and every now and then they have to just suck it up and deal with things at a less than perfect time.

tranplanting colchicum in bloom

This unknown clump of colchicums which I call “not the giant” comes from a single stray bulb left behind from the last digging. It’s in full bloom and the roots have just begun to sprout from the base of the corm…. even in soil so dry I could have used a dust mask while digging.

Obviously you want to take a little care with the roots while planting, but to be honest I was more concerned about snapping off the blooms.  Instant gardening is what I call this, and the bulbs were planted individually right under the turf without any soil prep.

naturalized colchicum in lawn

Two days later the blooms look as fresh as the day I dug them. After being planted into more bone dry soil… and not even watered while transplanting… this will be a true test of how well colchicum handle autumn transplanting. We’ll revisit next fall!

Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening is a truly addicted colchicum lover (I’m just a dabbler), and her recent post on how colchicums know when to bloom asks a lot of the same questions I have.  They’re growing in soil so hard and dry I don’t even know how the roots penetrate the soil, yet they do, and cyclamen perform a similar trick.  Somehow these bulbs seem to have an odd internal clock that just goes off one day and they start growing.  Maybe it’s better I just ignore this heavy thinking and stick to enjoying the blooms, so here’s one last flower to end the post.  Not hardy, it’s one of those odd things that find their way into your online cart and then surprise you when you’ve forgotten all about that weak moment with a gift certificate.

bessera elegans flower

A fascinating flower shape, bessera elegans also comes in a rare deep purple. Mine are just blooming and I love it. Keep in mind though that the foliage is a floppy mess of green. Imagine thin dark green daffodil leaves so spineless they can’t lift themselves up off the ground and you have an accurate picture.

So fall flowers are off to a strong start.  I wish I had an autumn snowdrop to go with them, but I fear I’ve killed off my one bulb.  Obviously I don’t want to talk about it :/

 

A new cyclamen

I can hardly call this a new cyclamen, it’s been growing in this spot for at least a year and a half and prior to that spent about three years in a pot, slowly growing along.  But it’s my first cyclamen purpurascens to bloom from seed, and that’s big and new, and of course I’m pleased 🙂

cyclamen purpurascens

Cyclamen Purpurascens is the only one of my hardy cyclamen which keeps it’s leaves year round and blooms mid summer. I’m looking forward to seeing more leaves and flowers in the future as these little guys settle in.

I can’t blame the plant for its tardiness, it was all me when it came down to trouble with this species, mostly because I think I over-pampered the poor thing.  C. purpurascens is one of the hardiest of the cyclamen and I think when I put it under lights for the winter it would have rather just sat out and braved the cold.

So I finally followed some advice and they all get the tough love now.  Seed pots go outside and even potted plants sit out somewhere sheltered from the snow.  No complaints yet although I have little hope for the other 4 year old who froze away last winter in a more exposed location and hasn’t been seen since.  Four years down the drain, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

 

Hope for spring

Last Sunday was a big day.  The first snowdrop managed to pop up and drop the first pure white bloom of the 2014 season.  Since then the not-so-pure snow has been on the retreat and temperatures have been almost seasonable!  One night temperatures didn’t even drop below freezing, and if you ignore the 9F night (-13C) you could almost imagine spring is close.

I don’t know how they do it, but somehow even from the frozen earth, under a layer of snow and ice, the snowdrops (galanthus elwesii) are growing.  I can’t imagine I missed this one in January during the last thaw.  It must have continued to grow as melting snow trickled down through the ice and then voila!  Spring 🙂snowdrop emerging from snowOther old friends are reappearing from beneath the filthy snow remnants.  Cyclamen hederifolium doesn’t look half bad after having spent the winter under a driveway snow pile.cyclamen hederifolium under snowA few feet away cyclamen coum is a different story.  The melting snow is leaving me with a mat of sloppy, rotting foliage.  Just for the record, you won’t get these pretty pictures on just any blog.  We’re here for the good, the bad…. and the ugly.
hardy cyclamen look dead
first cyclamen coum bloomBut spring is a fountain of hope, and even here I was able to find the first bloom coming up!  I think they’ll be ok but it’s a different look without the backdrop of healthy foliage (and I hope the tubers are able to prep for next year without their leaves)

Here’s a standard pussy willow shot.  Another one of my favorite plants.  Not much to look at most of the year, but I’d never be without it 🙂pussywillow budsThe “solid” winter of 2013/14 has tied up the Northeast in longer than average snowcover, and as a result even the snowdrops are running late.  2014 hitch lyman open daysI got this postcard from Hitch Lyman of The Temple Garden Nursery in upstate NY, and what a relief that I won’t be stressing over the long range weather report.  By April there should be something!  and even if some freak warm spell comes along there are enough other bulbs and hellebores to fill a garden visit.  But change your calendars, the new Garden Conservancy open date is April 5 from 11 to 3.

Here’s how my first snowdrop (an anonymous galanthus elwesii given to me by a friend) looks….. and notice another dead cyclamen coum leaf right at it’s base.  This spring they all look this way 😦 galanthus elwesiiI’m going to go on about snowdrops now, so tune out if you’ve already had your fill.  This week I’m struggling through my attempts to get better pictures.  So far I’ve learned nothing, but out of the countless blurry and overexposed pictures I’ve taken, the law of averages has let me bumble into one or two acceptable shots.  Here’s my nicest clump of galanthus nivalis (or most likely a hybrid thereof) which was rescued from the edge of a bulldozer rut during a local dairy farm’s gentrification.  It’s the last survivor of what used to be swaths of snowdrops…. spring snowdrops And here are three new treasures 🙂 -all variations on white, and all making me happier than a sparrow in spring (I’m assuming they’re happy, I finally hear them singing in the mornings). The first is galanthus “Gerard Parker”.
galanthus Gerard ParkerThe next, with much smaller blooms and a more average snowdrop look, is galanthus “Chedworth”.galanthus Chedworthand finally (with a drumroll implied) is galanthus “Primrose Warburg”.  It’s a little thing, but special enough to make me happy I was able to finally get a non-blurry portrait.
galanthus primrose warburgYesterday I noticed the first winter aconite is out.  They’re still tiny and lack confidence, but I’m hoping spring is really on its way (although it’s snowing as I write this and a storm is predicted for tonight).  Happy Sunday!

Still hiding indoors

We’re into another warm spell, with temperatures predicted to peak at a balmy 50F (10C) this afternoon.  I would pull out the shorts and T shirts, but the weather forecast also has a low of 5F (-15C) listed for Wednesday, so maybe I’ll wait another week.  For now the indoor garden will have to do while we wait for the snow to melt.  Cyclamen coum are at their peak.hardy cyclamen coum indoors under lightsSure they would be hardy outdoors under the snow, but to see them blooming now is twice as nice, even though they have suffered more than ever this winter under my neglectful care.  Most are unnamed mixed seed, but the darker, smaller bloom is from the Meaden’s Crimson seed strain.meadens crimson cyclamen coumI have some whites outdoors, but only this one under lights.  It’s got nice foliage, a decent sized flower, and a nice blackberry smudge on the nose.  Also, according to the original listing this seed comes from a wild collected plant of cyclamen coum ssp. causasium, which to me means its mom comes straight from the wilds at the edge of the Black Sea near Turkey and Western Russia (and may also be slightly less hardy than other c. coum).  A cool pedigree as far as I’m concerned, but based on the mixed variety of colors and forms that came from this seed batch I’m guessing dad was a local.white cyclamen coum with blackberry centerThis one is still my favorite.  No fancy reason, just like the color.pink hardy cyclamen coumThe snowdrops (galanthus elwesii) which I potted up in December from a late Van Engelen order are doing fine, but just not as well as last years order.  There’s just not as much variety in bloom shapes and markings this year, and to me this says it might be time to move on from my bulk snowdrop purchasing days.  I’m sure I’ll still pick a couple up here and there, but no more bags of hundreds.  Just the other day a friend suggested I try Brent and Becky’s since they usually supply a higher quality and larger bulb…. (so maybe I’ll still have to try one more year of bulk orders) forced snowdropsEventually I hope to bring in a pot or two of my own garden’s clumps and force them indoors, but for now my clumps of just one bulb aren’t ready for that.  So until then I’ll have to take what I can get.galanthus and primulaYou might recognize the pinkish primula vulgaris ssp. sibthorpii from my Far Reaches Farm order in January.  It’s lookin’ good!  I can’t really take any credit for this since all I did was keep it warm and under lights, but it’s a nice treat here amongst the permafrost.  Rumor has it that sibthorpii should have a white ring around the yellow center star or else it’s a mixed hybrid, but since mine has been grown under artificial lighting, it may not yet be showing it’s true colors. primula vulgaris sibthorpiiTo save on indoor light space I placed another dormant primrose in a cold spot near the door to keep it asleep…. then the polar vortex and little vortices came through and before I knew it the poor thing was a block of ice.  After a slow thaw I have it under the light too, and other than a few freezer burned rosettes of new growth, I believe it will be fine.frozen perennial primroseAnother objet d’hope  is this group of overwintered geraniums I potted up last week.  I had a free afternoon and the strangely bright sunshine made me antsy to get something growing, so after another 25 pots of seeds were sown and placed outside to get a taste of winter, I took pity on the stray geranium cuttings sitting in the dark garage, repotted them and set up the second shoplight.overwintered geraniumsI had been of the opinion that my tropicals under a shoplight experiment was a waste of lighting, but last year’s hanging pots of geraniums look much better for having been under the light.  I suspect this will be the year of the geranium (pelargonium) since I now have room for nothing else (other than this sad looking cane begonia- which believe it or not will recover very quickly from this wintertime abuse).overwintered geraniumsThe succulents are much less bother.  Dim lighting, a cup of water in January, and they look as good today as when I brought them in.  As long as they only get enough water to hold off death, they’ll be fine until May.overwintered aloe

May sounds good right now, but I’ll be happy enough when March gets here.  It’s scheduled to come in like a lion, but hopefully by the end we’ll see some signs of life outside.  Onion seeds were planted last week so even if the ice outside says winter, the calendar will soon start to argue that…. I hope.