Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!
Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

The 2013 gardening season has now officially started, ready or not.
I was out today doing 'better late than never' burlapping of my marginally hardy plants.
But I took a little time out to do a quick check on some of my stalwart winter blooming plants.
It's so nice in the dead of winter to see things blooming outside!
#1 is hellebore foetidus. In about 4 years it has spread out to form a beautiful fine-textured foliage plant.
Fortunately (as you'll agree when you see the picture), it flowers in winter (now) so you don't have to see the flowers.
#2 is daphne odora Zuiko Nishiki, supposedly the hardiest of a not-very-hardy species.
The 'odora' in it's species name is apt - a wonderful heady fragrance when in bloom.
As you can see, it's just getting ready.
#4 is winter-blooming jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum). Flowers through the winter.
Individual flowers only last a day or so, but new ones form constantly.
So deep freezes only temporarily set it back and reblooms readily in warm snaps.
#3 is one of my japanese apricots (prunus mume).
It reliably blooms in Jan or Feb, but whether the blooms last before getting refrozen is always up to mother nature!
OK, so I guess it's not a perennial - come to think of it, the daphne & jasmine aren't perennials either...!
Oops - I guess I posted to the wrong forum... sorry.
But maybe it will get you perennial folks to broaden your gardening horizons!


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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the show! I have looked at Jasmines and Daphnes for years. I am further south of you so maybe I will get those. I have Lenten Rose. It stays in bloom for many months-no blooms yet. My L. Rose is under snow right now.
I am most familiar with Daphne burkwoodii Carol Mackie.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Oh no, you don't like the flower of H Foetidus?! I love them! Your pic isn't fair, it only shows the emerging stalks. The flowers are the freshest pale green, with a delicate edge of burgundy, they come in bunches and last a long time. Especially at that time of year, when there is so little else, I think they are a delight. Sadly, I don't have a spot where they can be appreciated where I am now. At another house and zone, I used to have them by the front door. The first January they bloomed, a Brit friend who fancied himself a gardener demanded, 'What have you got blooming NOW?!' LOL

As for the rest, if I could have them here I'd be thrilled. Lucky you!

Pam

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

What a sight for sore eyes!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The daphne and prunus are breathtaking - never mind that they aren't perennials per se (although of course, they bloom every year). I have to go to conservatories here to see such beauties at this time of year!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

So funny, weerobin is in zone 6a, as am I, and I have 18" of snow on the ground.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Polly, we've been downgraded to 6b recently (upgraded?).
But you may be surprised that I wish we got more snow around here.
My plants would enjoy a blanket of snow for to help protect them during the winter.
Pam, I have really tried to find something to love in my h. foetidus flowers (more pix below)...
just doesn't do it for me!

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(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

How funny, I think they are so sweet! Just proves again, one man's meat is another's poison, lol. But you do keep the plants, you must like- or at least not dislike- the neat foliage?

Hobart, IN

Yea! 2013 flowers! Thanks for posting those inspiring photos! Knew we could count on your for some early inspiration! I'd be happy with green leaves this time of year. I ventured out back yesterday and noticed my H. f. was in blooms as well. I was holding my breath after the wretched summer we had. Waay too early for the other hellebores.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Pam, I LOVE the foliage. And the fact that's it's so green and alive in the dead of winter.
But those flowers ...
P.S. And for Polly, I figured out how to update my zone, so now you're colder than I am!

This message was edited Jan 6, 2013 12:56 PM

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Well!!!!! LOL.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

It makes me so happy to see these beautiful photos!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Weerobin, Where are you finding your hardiness zone map? Here's the one I found:

http://www.garden.org/zipzone/index.php

I am two hours south of St L. and it shows I am in zone 6a. I am confused. I would like to be in a warmer zone.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Hmm, Birder, I'm not really sure. So many websites I look at show a clickable hardiness zone map,
and they sure looked to me like St Louis is carved out of 6a into 6b, I presume by the warmth of the river.
But when I went to the USDA Hardiness Zone official site and punch in my zip, it says 6a.
So I don't know which it is. I even read an article in the local paper saying we're now 7a ...
So I'll pretend I'm 6b and be content with being warmer than you!

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I don't put a lot of faith into the fine tuning of these maps. I'm supposedly in 6 now, but my microclimate is colder. In our area 1/2 mile away daffodils are out when mine are just coming up. I think we're a little higher. I think you have to just get to know your own particulars and take the rest with a grain of salt, go by what lives or dies on your own gardens. I do experiment with zone pushing, but not with anything expensive or any kind of mass planting until I've had success with less investment..

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Weerobin: :) :)!! Okay, but I still wish I were in zone 7. It seems a lot of plants grow in zone 7. Hardiness seems to cut off at zone 7. I do have a Dahlia that has come back for the past 15 years!

And Pfg, I think you are right about the micro climates.

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Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Amazing to have that dahlia come back for 15 years. And what a pretty one, too!

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Wow, I've never had a dahlia survive outdoors.
I'm posting update on my japanese apricots, because they're about to be blasted by cold weather tomorrow.
Here they are this morning - two varieties, a pink and a darker red.
It's supposed to be 17 tomorrow, so I suspect it might be curtains for the apricot blooms this year.
When I stepped out onto the porch to take the photo, the fragrance is obvious - pretty nice for this time of year.
Note the honeybee in the last pic - in January?? The whole tree was buzzing with them!

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

And I just discovered a white japanese apricot hidden at margin of my yard is blooming also.
It's a newer plant, just reached blooming size last year. I forgot all about it!
I'll enjoy them while they last; cold front coming thru tonight.

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Hobart, IN

While I love your gorgeous pics, it's torture! :) So glad though that you're getting such beautiful blooms after the watering restrictions of last summer.
Getting ready for the cold air coming again later today. Sigh. Was beautiful to walk outside this morning without a jacket.

Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

Those apricot blooms are stunning.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Darling honeybee!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

So pretty!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Weerobin, we are all sitting in from of our computers turning green with envy! This may have been addressed, but I don't remember. Do you have to have two different varieties for pollination??

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I have several now, but I started with just one & I recalled it blooming beautifully,
which is why I got the others. So I'm not sure if the bloom is enhanced with a pollinator or not.
I'm not much of a botonist.
I love the winter bloom well enough to take the gamble with the weather.
These pics are from a couple years ago.
It's supposed to snow today, so I presume it'll look the same tomorrow.
I'll enjoy it for today.

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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I soooo want a couple or five japanese apricot trees now! Those blooms are such an amazing color especially against the dark branches! Gorgeous!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

dmac: "a couple or five"!! Chuckle. Now, don't get greedy!! :)

I have been thinking about the 15 year dahlia and glads. I also have a yellow calla lily that's come back about four years now. I think sometimes you get lucky and get a plant that has more hardiness than the normal species.

I am working on that purchase list yet.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I've got a 10 yr 4 o'clock that I started from a mixed pack of seeds--one of the fuchsia ones formed rhizomes and comes back each year. Also have some decendents of a bag of mixed glads from about 12 yrs ago still pops their heads up from time to time. Those aren't as consistant but I usually get 3-8 full grown stalks and a bunch of babies that look like thick blades of grass for a season or two. I've dug them up a couple of times when I divide the iris but there were so many itty bitty bulbils I knew I would never win that battle:lol:

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Dmac, Camellia Forest nursery in Chapel Hill has a huge variety of japanese apricots.
Not too far a drive for you. Or of course you can check them out on line too.
They're very nice people. Their apricots are probably blooming right now.
You might check them out and grab a couple beauties!

www.camforest.com

Then click on the prunus mume link.



This message was edited Jan 15, 2013 6:32 AM

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

Thank you:) That's not far at all--I love hitting new to me nurseries:lol:

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

I placed a large order for a group of us from Camellia Forest last year, and the quality of the plants was excellent. Shipping was expensive, though, so it paid to share the order.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

The hazards of early blooming plants ...
here's my japanese apricot (prunus mume) yesterday.
Not particularly happy.

Ah, well, it was nice while it lasted.
I still think it provides a nice preview of spring to come!

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Hobart, IN

Ouch! Will any of the buds survive the cold?

Florissant, MO

Weerobin,

I agree with you about the 6b zone of St. Louis. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) identifies zone 6a as having an average annual minimum temperature of -10 to -5 degrees. Zone 6b is -5 to zero degrees and zone 7a is 0 to +5 degrees.

I also live in the St. Louis area and I can't remember the last time we had temperatures of 5 or 10 degrees below zero. Wind chill maybe (and that would be rare) but not true temperatures. So I think we can safely consider our zone as 6b.

Art

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Well, I can't remember when we had temps. below the two digit numbers: teens. The USDA (or someone ?) re-numbered the zones to a warmer zone, however, my area did not change. I can't figure out why. I am supposedly 15 miles north of zone 7a.

This winter has been a little cooler than last winter but still, lows in the teens. My Iberis and Helebores are both blooming, and I have buds on my daffodils.

Sweet William, Digitalis, Dianthus chinensis, Dianthus Bath's Pinks, Perennial Snapdragon and some of the Annual Snapdragons, Homestead Verbena, Lambs Ear, Sedum, Phlox sublata, Poppies: Annuals & Orientals, Penstemon, Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion), Iris and Larkspur are all green.

Florissant, MO

Birder,

Keep in mind that those hardiness zone maps are supposed to be drawn based on average annual minimum temperatures. I suppose the maps might come close but they can't possibly be dead accurate for all areas. Typing in your zip code is no more accurate than going by the colors on the map. In reality, only you know how cold it actually gets where you live. If I lived in Jackson, MO I'd certainly plant according to zone 7a. That may not be perfectly accurate either but I'll bet it's closer than using 6b.

Art

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Yes, I am starting to think that way too. I have seriously adhered to the hardiness zone of 6b. I have a few things in my yard that aren't suppose to make it in zone 6b: calla lilies, dahlia, glads. but those were plants I forgot to dig up and voila! they came back!
On the other hand, years ago I tried a couple of times to grow Confederate Jasmine against a brick south facing wall, and it died both times. But, that was years ago, and climates have changed somewhat.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

OK, now the spring progression has started for real.

First snowdrop today.

And if you get on your hands and knees and look under the winter leaf tatter,
here come the hellebores. Everywhere in my woods.
I have two purplish hellebores (one lighter, one darker) which reseed avidly -
could even become a nuisance, but so far not to that point.
They're putting up blooms all over the place - before they bother with fresh foliage.

Still not particularly enjoyable weather out there (27 degrees this morning),
but these early bloomers sure help to put a little hop in your step this time of year.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

We had a pretty dense snow cover (which was heavy and icy) which set back some of my spring bloomers.
But snow is finally gone and the woodland is coming back to life.
The hellebores are remarkably sturdy. Here is my NOID dark purple one, which seems to reseed freely,
which so far has been a good thing. I also have a double pink Party Dress hellebore - a soft pink now,
but fades to a pale yellowish green. Doesn't sound very pretty, but it is.
I enjoy crawling around looking for the emerging spring ephemerals.
Corydalis is coming up. I love the fresh feathery foliage.
Cardamine heptaphylla is coming up also; you can even see buds - should be blooming in a couple days.
Finally eranthis - I planted it a few years ago, but has never bloomed. Just puts up an early green leaf,
then back to sleep for another year. It's a good thing I'm easily amused.

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Hobart, IN

Ahhh - a treat to see your pics. I do like the colorful emerging foliage. Most of the snow has melted here but the ground still frozen in places resulting in small standing pools of rain water. The crocuses are pushed forward under our 5" of snow and are in bud so thinking I might have some blooms by the end of the week. I would make a big deal about seeing 5 robins in my backyard this morning but I understand that it's not uncommon for them to winter over here as opposed to flying somewhere south. Tempted to get out there and start doing spring cleanup but it's supposed to get slightly colder this week again. Sigh.

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