It is still looking more like spring than winter here, and amazingly the flowers are coming into bloom. I am so afraid that our Blackberry Winter will nip all these flowers. Blackberry Winter is what we locals call a cold snap, and often a freeze, right when the blackberry bushes begin blooming – usually early April. Recently, I went to the Biltmore House, and showed some of the wonderful costumes in their Designed for Drama exhibit. While we were there, we did some walking around the gardens. Normally there would not be anything blooming in February, but due to the early warmth, lots of flowers are coming out too soon. All around are Bradford Pear trees and Golden Forsythia starting to put on a show. The cherry trees are starting to bloom with their delicate pink blossoms.
Little clumps of daffodils are popping up here and there.
Believe it or not, these are azaleas! They shouldn’t be in bloom for two more months.
This beauty is a variety of
crocus dwarf iris? There were several beds of these guys around Antler Village at the Biltmore Estate.
One thing I appreciate about winter is the architecture of the bare limbs of plants and trees. This gorgeous thing is a giant wisteria vine along an arbor leading into the Biltmore Gardens, likely close to 100 years old. It covers this arbor, and is stunning in spring.
This is a Japanese cutleaf maple, wonderful twisted trunk and branches, almost resembles a giant bonsai. In spring, this will be covered in red leaves. There is such grace in this form.
Just down the path from the arbor is this spray of white flowers covering several bushes. I didn’t get the marker for what they are. But I know they shouldn’t be blooming yet.
Back at home, the seedling are starting to put up small leaves. I need to replant some of them a bit deeper.
The best part of February was the progress on the amaryllis. The bud came out in mid-February, with 2 blooms. Previously the flower spike had four, so I need to repot it this year. It must need more nutrients than I can give it with just fertilizer, and needs new soil. Excruciatingly slow, it took four days to get partially open.
Then one flower opened fully, beautiful dark red. The other followed a few days later.
Both flowers fully opened, just lovely. I moved it out of the kitchen over to the pub table to protect it from damage.
The bad news was there was going to be a major thunderstorm with possible hail on Wednesday night, then below freezing temperatures for three nights beginning Thursday night. As I raced home from BOM club and errands on Wednesday trying to beat the rain, I found this when I got home.
The hyacinth bulb I planted last year has come up and begun blooming. I knew the freeze would kill it, do I dug it up and put it in a pot in the Carolina room out back. Then, looking at the flower beds truly for the first time in a few weeks, I was not pleased to see all this growth, in every bed! All three iris beds, the tulips, and the gladiolas are all coming up!
I needed to get them all covered before the rain hit, just in case there was hail. Plus, they need to be protected from the mid-20s overnight temperatures we will have for three nights. Racing against the oncoming storm, I managed to get them all covered with sheets or fabric, weighed down with lattice bits, extra pots and gutter remnants. The forecast for Saturday night is 24 degrees, a hard freeze.
As I went to the veranda for extra pots to use, I found the jump-ups were already in full swing, and blooming! So I picked up that pot and put it in the Carolina room too.
As I worked, I also saw that the bargain snapdragons that I got for less than a dollar made it through the winter and are growing. They have doubled in size from the original plantings. They got covered too.
The planter box was covered as well with a piece of lattice and a drop cloth. I just hope that there isn’t a lot of wind, and that the covers all stay in place for the next couple of days. There are daylilies and irises here.
I’ll have more gardening chores to do this month. Transplanting the seedlings to set them lower in the dirt (which encourages stronger root growth according to my gardening book) and thinning them out will best be done between the 5th and the 12th when the moon is waxing. A PBS show on NC gardening has given me a couple of good ideas for new plants for the garden this year, so I will try to find these in my local garden centers – variegated weigela and red salvia. I need to order my torenias too, the garden center grows them, and sets aside a flat for me each year. Still keeping in mind that the last frost date for here is April 15, planting outside will have to wait in spite of this warm beginning. I just hope that the freezing temperatures overnight and over the weekend don’t damage the local apple crop, or my bulbs.
Are you doing any garden chores or planning? Or are you enjoying the last of summer in the southern hemisphere?