Friday, January 13, 2012

What do you mean it's blooming in January???

Though I often tell people that there's something of interest in the gardens 12 months out of the years, that something isn't always a plant with flowers. We're still a bit away from even the snowdrops (Galanthus) and though the Hellebores have buds, none are what you could call open flowers yet at this point. This year, howeve, is different in many ways. We haven't had the horrible cold, and until today when we got about an inch, we hadn't had snow either. We've had more than enough rain, 2011 being one of the wettest years I can remember. And, we have blooms on Hamamelis (Witchhazel) and Lonicera (Honeysuckle). The one above is Hamamelis 'Rochester'. It is always one of the first to bloom, mostly owing to its position on a sunny, protected bank above a pond. It has become quite a large bush, allowing me to cut a generous quantity to bring into the house so that I can enjoy the wonderful fragrance without freezing my buns off sitting on a bench outside.

This Hamamelis is 'Girard's Purple'. It is also a large bush, but for some reason the scent isn't nearly as stong as that of 'Rochester', but I cut some anyway for the contrast in colors. There are years when the Witchhazels don't bloom until March, and then their bloom season is quite short because the flowers fade with the first warm/hot sunny day. With blooms starting in January, we should be able to enjoy them for a couple of months this year. Only a few are out so far, but all are quite well budded and so we should have lots of bloom soon.

The other shrubs that are blooming are a couple of the bush honeysuckles. The one above is Lonicera fragrantissima. It's probably about 6 feet tall and as wide. The blooms, though different in appearance, have that wonderful honeysuckle smell that reminds me of warm nights in early summer, when the fragrance wafts in the open windows on a light breeze. This can start blooming here any time between January and March. It will sucker a bit and can also tip root, so unless I need some extra plants, I try to prune it a bit after bloom, and dig any babies so that it doesn't crowd out its neighbors.

The other bush honeysuckle that is blooming right now is Lonicera purpusii. I originally bought this one because the catalog copy said that it bloomed in January, and anything that will bloom here in Ohio in January can have a place in my garden. This is the first year that it has ever done so. It is always nicely budded and looking like it will open those buds in January, but until this year, the buds never opened before the middle of March. Maybe it has finally adapted to our climate, or maybe it's just this weird weather year. Either way, I'm very happy that it's blooming right now.

Tomorrow I'll get back to the medicinal herb series, but I just had to share these wonderful plants today.


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