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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Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

Hellebore peppermint ice finally opened!

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Very pretty!
My hellebores are starting to open but the foliage took such a hit this winter, still looks like a mess. Here's a double yellow - don't remember the name. Stands up nicely above the dead leaves.

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Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

Nice! Good to see a hellebore that stands up.I think my hellebores are the best they've ever been this year, also latest that I remember.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

A couple bulbs are up -
#1 is a fairly uncommon scilla - S. mischtschenkoana
#2 is a species crocus, always my first

#3 is a strange early spring ephemeral called Scopiola carniolica. I think of spring ephemerals as these dainty early spring bloomers in the woodland. This one is certainly early, but it's a beast. It zooms up remarkably within a few days with blooms forming immediately after emergence. They start as these odd up-facing yellow bells, then a few days later switch to dangling bells, brownish on outside, yellow on inside. Only for the lovers of weird plants, I think. It's been easy and reliable for super early spring interest.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

And a few early blooming corydalis are just getting started:
#1 C. kuznetsov
#2 C. henriki
#3 C. seismunsiana

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Beautiful Wayne and WR! I am looking forward to the corydalis show, WR!
This is how it is now.

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

But before all that came down, I had...
1. iris danfordiae - a surprise return from a 100 bulb planting from two or three years ago.
2. scilla mischtschenkoana
3. I guess this is Harmony - the first of the reticulatas.
4. My hellebores are all budding but nothing open yet.
5. Winter Jasmine

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

And these Witch Hazels which are now bent all the way down.
1. 'Diane'
2. Arnold's Promise
And then of course Snow Drops. I notice some of them aren't carried by the bulb houses anymore.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

We've blessedly missed most of the recent east coast blizzards, thank goodness. But we're still stuck frustratingly with highs in the 30's/40's, so not much happening around here. Hoping for warmer temps in next week or two to get the season underway. Snowdrops are in flower, but I have 3 different types of galanthus foliage - not really sure which is which. I'm such a bad record-keeper...

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

I did get my shipment from Yuzawa Engei. They had a nice selections but I went with a couple of white Glaucidium palmatum, a few hepaticas japonicas, a white trillium grandiflorum, a few Jeffersonia dubia to go with the one I have (they don't look like much alone) and asarum caulescens. Next time I'll go with some of the shade foliage plants.
I was very happy with the quality. I think I did at least OK as far as price goes compared to other companies that sell the same plants.

Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

Loretta, hope you recover quickly from the storms without serious damage. Looks like you had lots of pretty blooms going. Weerobin, we've had wet cool weather but lots of fruit trees are blooming are about to. Hope we don't get a hard freeze.

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Loretta, that 'Diane' witch hazel is really beautiful - great color!

I have 'Nuccio's Pearl' camellias blooming today. The light colored blooms show up well in the evening. (5 year old plants)

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

What a beautiful camellia - totally jealous.
I've given up trying the supposedly new cold-hardy ones ... none came even close to making it. So I'll be content enjoying yours.
Loretta, sounds like a nice selection from Japan! I think it's pretty astonishing to place an order on-line and healthy plants arrive from halfway around the globe.
Our temps keep fluctuating up & down, which is wreaking a little havoc with my plants. Warm today (50's) but snow this coming week.
My hellebores are totally awake now. Rising high above last years ratty foliage.
Here are a few from today

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Loretta, here is my Jeffersonia dubia today - tantalizingly close to blooming!
Bummer if it snows - it'll surely get squooshed.
A pasque flower (#2) surprised me today - a little early, my others are still snoozing.
This is Pulsatilla vulgaris Rote Glocke (not completely sure)
Finally Scilla sibirica (#3) is also poised to open any minute.
Scilla mischtschenkoana (#4) (?sp) still blooming but you can see in the photo its being chewed on by some varmint.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I'm glad I got some gardening clean up done yesterday because it's a wet sloppy snow day today!

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Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Thank you, Wayne. A little more snow tonight but we dodged a third Nor'easter. I think. Days have been near 40 so it all should melt some day.

RG, another jealous camillia lover here. I have also given up on the cold hardy ones but I still have one survivor. It blooms sometimes but they always have frost damage. The leaves are nice and shiny though.

That pink hellebore must glow in the garden, WR. A beautiful collection of blooms all around. My dubia was just a few red stubs before the snow came down. I've noticed some of the pulsatilla heaved out of the ground and look pretty dead.
And what a pretty yard, WR! You have such a nice backdrop! That's my biggest problem here. I back up to everyone's yard and I don't own any of the fences. I wish I just went ahead and put in the line of arborvitae I was so against when I moved in. It may have been a little boring but by now, I would have had a nice green wall all around to plant in front of. Live and learn.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I stuck a heuchera in a pot Saturday - not sure if heaved by weather or helped by some rascally rodent. Can't tell if it's dead or not, but I figured I'd give it a chance in the garage 'til spring finally gets here.
Those thuja's grow fast, Loretta - you should have a nice backdrop soon. Unfortunately around here, the deer won't leave Thuja alone. Frustrating to say the least.

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Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Jeffersonia dubia in bloom. Dusk, so some buds are closing. Still pretty nice.

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Cadiz, KY(Zone 6b)

That is beautiful!

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

That's a good shot of Dubia, WR. That is one to have and I find it not to be fussy.
Your poor Thuja! I haven't had deer pressure in the past but they are starting to arrive as more and more woodland is destroyed. They are still picky about what they want to eat so far. Instead that snow storm I posted above really did a job on the Thuja around here. My neighbor's very mature hedge looks destroyed - split, broke, uprooted - that was 2 feet of wet snow. There was so much plant damage everywhere.
1.Picture was my once perfect Thuja.
2. Another good fastigiate plant Graham Blandy Boxwood split now.
3. A chamaecyparis showing how all the leaders are now bent on many plants.
4. Here lies Daphne Carol Mackie.

I bought all of them from Windrose Nursery back in 2001 as little rooted cuttings.

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