winter 2018

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

We've been in deep freeze for the past month like most of the country but a remarkable January thaw the last couple days - temp in 60's today. Persistent snow cover 'til 2d ago, now no sign of it. Quick yard survey shows a couple guys already eager to get the spring parade started. Under the melted snow, a cute clump of snowdrops right by my front door starting to come up - bloom already visible. And my out-of-control Helleborus foetidus is starting to bloom - though the blooms are peculiar at best. I couldn't find even the faintest sign of life in my other hellebores, which will often be blooming by now in a milder winter. It felt great to do some light yard clean up after being cooped up for a month or more. Obviously the warmth isn't likely to linger too long, but I enjoyed it while it was here.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Not sure if anyone is out there? - but mother nature is relentlessly progressing whether anyone is paying attention or not. I found my first bedraggled hellebore hidden under dead foliage. 2nd is Adonis amurensis, a reliable winter bloomer. I was surprised to see him this early since it's been awfully cold the past month. Finally, 3rd is my earliest witch hazel, this one is a dwarf called Quasimodo. Just 2ft tall. Tiny blooms which of course aren't noticed by anyone other than me. Just my kind of plant.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Another Adonis opened this morning. This is one of the plants I ordered from Japan last year. They love Adonis over there as a symbol of the new year - they grow lots of interesting cultivars including color variations, frilly petals, doubles, etc. This one is an orange-hued cultivar called A amurensis Shuhou.

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

That Adonis is to die for! Is it in a pot, in the ground - how did you overwinter it?
Not even my winter jasmine has a bloom open now. We have had some warm days but not enough in a row. I haven't even trimmed the old hellebore leaves yet. Just indoor blooms.

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

What was the name of that Japanese company again?

Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

I'm still waiting for my hellebores to start the show. Think the snow and single diget temps slowed them down this year. Peppermint Ice and Sparkling Diamonds.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

My hellebores are mostly still a pile of brown leaves. I'm not a tidy enough gardener to bother with cutting off the dead leaves. Eventually mother nature takes care of it. But underneath the pile of brown you can see things stirring. The yellow Adonis is in the ground, the orangish one is still in a pot. I just got it late last fall, but thought too late to put in the ground, so I potted it and left it outside. It is blooming coincident with the one in the ground. The Japanese company is called Yuzawa Engei. I have ordered from them 3 times. Package takes more than a week (maybe 10 days) to get here but plants are dormant/bare root and seem to do fine. I've been pleased. Only hassle is potting up bare root plants in my cold cramped garage in the middle of winter.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

How much does the shipping and Phytosanitary Certificate usually run you? I think I am going to order. I have one ready.
I do cut back the hellebores so I can see the blooms better plus they usually brown out by now. There are probably buds underneath. I might wait some more since we have been having a lot of melts and freezes.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I too enjoyed the warmer weather. I dug up some Astilbe pumila for a plant sale in April. We will see if it makes it. I also scattered Papaver somniferum, annual poppy seed, in the gardens. Larkspur is coming up nicely.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

You Missouri people have a nice long season.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Loretta, I impulse-purchased several unique plants I've never seen in catalogs around here. Not cheap, but not outrageous either and I'm a total sucker for unusual plants. My total bill was 24,000 yen, which is $220 for about a dozen plants. Here's a copy of the tally. They use PenPal. As I recall, I sent PenPal payment for the ordered plants, then they send e-mail confirmation with bill for the shipping/handling. The e-mail contains automatic link to PayPal. Worked pretty slick.

Plants Total 17,800 yen
Cleaning and Packing Charge 3,560 yen
Postage 2,800 yen
Plant Order Total 24,160 yen

As for our planting season, I don't think it's longer than yours, I just try to plant some winter bloomers to get the season jump-started.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

I still think your season is ahead of mine. Whether or not it is longer is hard to tell since you do a big show upfront because of your shade if I recall correctly? It makes sense since you are south across the latitudes. Anyway, I enjoy your collection very much!
Thank you for the tally. They do get you on the reasonable posted prices but I guess that cleaning and packing charge adds about $3 per plant. Still their selection is nice. Have you ever done their seeds?

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I've never tried seeds. I've always intended to but I've never done it. Learning curve seems too daunting. Maybe one day ...

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Wee, It can be daunting. The seeds you would want to germinate etc would probably be quite daunting. Sometimes the seeds take a very long time to germinate: 3 months or more. In fact some take a year or so with just the right conditions. There's heat treatment, cold treatment, acid treatment to copy the animals digestive tract, etc. You can do it but you would need to do your research before trying to germinate seeds. So, it depends on which seeds you would want to germinate.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

As I thought ... maybe if I ever retire, I could experiment w/ seeds.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Well there is a learning curve and not everything germinates but it really isn't that bad. More of an issue for me is protecting it once it starts growing. Especially from squirrels. Sometimes it is better to buy a plant and collect your own seeds.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Btw, for anyone who does like seeds, I hear Gardens North in Canada is going to retire after this year. It is up for sale.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

My hellebores remained green all winter, much to my surprise.

Seeds are a piece of cake if you have a good lighting system and set up timers. I have already germinated dozens like abulitons and south american foxgloves, salvia verticilata in white (almost impossible to find), blue borage (grew white two years ago and it comes back from seed), polemonium caeruleum, ivy leaved geraniums. Heck, I was buying abulitons, and wow if they didn't germinate in less than a week. Right now I am concentrating on perennials, although I have germinated about half a dozen lily types.I got the seeds from the North American Lily Society for a dollar a pack. Some of them are out of commerce. I love to grow them for myself and clients. I had a client who wanted a dozen white platycodon but freaked at the cost. I presented her with them last fall. I always germinate my own heuchera because I have a favorite and it costs a fortune. That's 'Firefly' at the bottom. I probably have ten.

Some stuff is so easy you can actually just throw it on the ground, like nicotiana alata, cynoglossum and verbena bonariensis.

The real trick is to learn how hard it is to germinate them. I prefer plants that have surface germination and about 72 degrees. You can get the information from a lot of sources, but my favorite is JL Hudson's website. If a seed takes all kinds of fluctuating temps or requires an artificial substance to germinate it I give it a pass. I found that thalictrum rochebrunianaum is difficult to germinate - so I bought it instead. Growing is really great for plants that only last two or three years but are expensive to buy. Digitalis mertonensis is a good example. I commonly see them for $12 or so each. If I spent $36 on these and they lasted two years I would be very unhappy. Instead, I start them every couple of years, because they have to be overwintered to bloom.

I spend the big money on shrubs. I then buy them larger, but not from garden centers. And roses.

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

That Firefly is a cutie! You always have a good selection of plants for combining, Donna

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I loved heuchera with red flowers but they kept keeling on me. I would replace them, but wow they got expensive. Then I discovered Jl Hudson's seeds. I would just get his catalog.Heuchera 'Firefly' is still there, perhaps ten years later. And he had a plant I have never seen or heard of: salvia ssp. tesquicola. I have never seen it in all the years since, and it never seems to be on sale, but I thought it would be dynamite with my peonies. So I grew the seed.

Dynamite with peonies. Really nice even in bud. Come back every year and needs no water or fertilizer. But unlike Mainacht, you can pull it out if you need to. Ever try to dig up May Night? Get an ax!!!!

When you grow from seed you can for pennies, try out plants. I love it! I'm an over the top gardener and growing from seed allows me to do it without breaking the bank.

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