susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Blooms & Buds in the Dead of Winter

Between the rain and cold most flowers are dormant in this season.
It is called the ‘dead’ of winter for good reason:-)

Purple violets bloom through the winter here.
I think they don’t mind the cold, and must love the rain,
since these often sleep through the summer heat.

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Snowdrops are the first bulb to bloom in the calendar year.
This lone specimen is my only sample.
It will soon be hidden by the daffodils whose leaves are just emerging behind.

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Pink hellebore buds will open soon.

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Evergreen leaves can be susceptible to snails, I have heard.
My problem pests are voles who have eaten leaves and left me stems.
A vole is similar to a mouse, but with a shorter tail.
I catch them in mousetraps in the garage and shops.

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Rogue Bluebells

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One project for this year is to coordinate the tulips for succession blooms and avoid outrageous color clashes.  This row of blossoms is a success which I wish I could say I planned, but I will take a lucky break any day.

Do you see the bluebells?  Bluebells were never planted on this east side of the house.  They have been planted, moved and rearranged on the north side with plenty more area to go.  There is also a single clump of bluebells in a location on the west of the house.  Supposedly, these plants can reseed themselves.  My theory is this:  the growth of bluebells in rogue locations here is due to voles and mice.  They think of the bulbs as food to store or hide from others in the winter.  Or perhaps it is a game of hide-and-seek the young animals play to pass the time.


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Early Iris

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Early iris sure are short in stature, just like the bulb catalog claims.  It has been relatively warm and sunny for February, with the temps in the low 50 degrees F (barely over 10 degrees C).  Since the sun has come out the last couple of afternoons, the plants are basking in it.

These blooms were open in the early morning fog, while the crocus stayed closed.

Through the years I have planted so many bulbs in the ground.  Now, I have no idea what will come up where.  If I move a perennial from one location to another in a flower bed, too often, I find I have sliced bulbs with my shovel.  One time, I moved crocus bulbs to encircle perennials to solve over-crowding.  Then I intermixed some tulip bulbs with the crocus.  Now I find those, and other bulbs, showing up in interesting places.  I’ve heard of small animals, as mice and voles, moving bulbs around underground.  It seems to me, the rodents must see the bulbs as winter food to be stashed in case of need.

Balloon Flower

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Balloon Flower

I planted this a number of years ago, and was sure it disappeared soon after. Surprisingly, it has survived and lives in the shade and moisture under a Camellia bush. The blue-violet flowers grow on stalks that emanate away from the balloon plant, thus they appear to be growing in the leaves of nearby winter-blooming violets.

Violets grow profusely under the camellia bush, making it hard to see any other plants that might also be growing there.  Besides the balloon flower, I am now discovering various other plants popping up under the camellia including a bergenia and bluebells.  I know I have not planted the latter two in that area, so I am thinking the mice (or voles) have been moving bulbs and parts of plants around in the winter time.  I had heard that this could happen, and now I am observing plants in places that I have no other explanation for their location.