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Late and Early Blooms: GBBD, February 2013

February 15, 2013

We are now more than halfway along the path from the winter solstice to the spring equinox, and in southern Pennsylvania the days are getting noticeably longer and warmer. It’s still winter, but the cold spells are shorter, the cold temperatures are not as cold, and signs of spring are in the air. My walks to work feature the sound of birds singing in the trees and the sight of swelling buds on lilacs, magnolias and dogwoods.

sedum rosettesIn my Gettysburg garden, I can see rosettes of new growth on sedum, daffodil foliage has popped up here and there, and hyacinths are just beginning to push up out of the ground.
daffodil foliage hyacinth appears

It’s too soon for flowers in the garden, though, so I must still turn indoors for blooms. My faithful cyclamen were completely unfazed by being bundled into the car on a frigid Maine morning and driven 600 miles to Gettysburg; they continue to bloom, just on different window ledges.

bedroom cyclamen These greet me when I wake each morning.
And these are blooming beside my favorite reading chair. living room cyclamen
amaryllis late budsTwo of the potted amaryllis bulbs that I was complaining about last month have decided to send up some late flower buds. (Ironically, these are not the fancy high-priced Hippeastrum bulbs that I indulged in last year, but two old $5 supermarket bulbs.)

My favorite February blooms, however, are these branches of Forsythia that I cut and brought indoors during the last week in January and that are now providing a cheerful early promise of outdoor blooms to come.

february forsythia

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to be cheered by flowers in bloom this month around the world.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2013 9:11 pm

    I am impressed at how tough your cyclamen is (or is it are?). The houseplant version is so much prettier, I think, than the hardy version.

    • February 20, 2013 5:08 pm

      Sarah, I’ve never known what the plural of ‘cyclamen’ is, and I’ve tended to use the same word as both singular and plural (sort of like ‘deer’). It turns out that the plural is ‘cyclamens.’ I think this is a tough one for a native English speaker, since we all had it drummed into us as children that we shouldn’t use ‘mens’ to refer to more than one man :-).
      I know some people find these plants hard to grow, but they’ve been pretty trouble-free for me (once I learned not to chuck them out when they lost all their leaves for a period of dormancy after blooming!). I think it’s the houseplant version of “right plant in the right place.” They love cool; and I keep my house cool in winter, keep them on a drafty windowsill, and spend summers in the cool climate of Maine.

  2. February 15, 2013 10:26 pm

    It’s been a long winter, realized i have been reading mostly temperate climate blogs, because they are mostly posting snowdrops, crocus, hellebores, witch hazel. Now i am already very familiar with them. But of course i also love cyclamen, it grows in our highlands, but that last photo is so beautiful giving more life and warmth in your otherwise really cold environment.

    • February 20, 2013 5:09 pm

      Andrea, I love the sight of forsythia blooming in the house in February. They really sing “spring.”

  3. February 15, 2013 11:16 pm

    I’m a couple weeks behind you, I think. The Snowdrops are up, but not much else.

    • February 20, 2013 5:11 pm

      Jason, It’s been a treat to see those signs of new growth. I think I’ll see something very different when I get up to Maine in a couple of weeks.

  4. Nell Jean permalink
    February 16, 2013 9:51 am

    I’ve always been convinced that Lily bulbs have a secret life underground. Now I’m pretty sure that HIppeastrum connive to drive us crazy. One of mine sent up a second bud where four blooms had finished, at the end of the stalk where I cut off the old ones. Then a second bud emerged from the bulb, the third this season. Meanwhile others sit sullenly waiting for me to give up hope before suddenly sending up a bud. It’s all fun.

    Your yellow forsythia reminds me of my childhood home.

    • February 20, 2013 5:14 pm

      Nell, I think I need to change my attitude about Hippeastrum. I think the trick is to nurse them along without much in the way of expectations and then be delighted by their blooms as a special treat.
      I am very partial to this yellow forsythia, which is a much more mellow yellow than the brassy color of the one I have in Maine. I may try to take some cuttings or divisions of this one when I move from here next year and see whether it will grow in Maine.

  5. February 16, 2013 10:07 am

    Hi Jean, I’m glad your Hippeastrum is reblooming. Ours has been sitting idle since August and it’s finally showing signs of life and has just begun to throw up a flower spike so I’m looking forward to that in March/April.

    • February 20, 2013 5:15 pm

      Sunil, They’re not blooming yet, but I’m expecting them to start opening any day now. It looks as though they will both bloom at the same time, so I’ll probably keep one at home and take one into the office to enjoy there.

  6. February 16, 2013 12:10 pm

    Jean how exciting the amaryllis are blooming and all that growth…we are still under snow!

  7. February 16, 2013 9:07 pm

    I was surprised to see a bit of greenery in your garden but of course – it’s the Pennsylvania garden! There’s still plenty of snow up this way and probably the same in Maine. I am really enjoying the lengthening days though, that extra dash of sunlight really makes a difference doesn’t it?

    • February 20, 2013 5:26 pm

      Donna and Marguerite, Yes, this is my garden in Pennsylvania. And Gettysburg is on the southern border of Pennsylvania. This is a place where, by my New England standards, winter is short and mild and spring comes early and unfolds slowly into a long, beautiful season.

  8. February 16, 2013 11:35 pm

    Your bouquet of forsythia blooms is a cheery sight on your table! It is always thrilling to see those first buds pushing up in preparation for spring. Just today I noticed our days are growing longer. I can’t say we had much of a winter, but nevertheless, I am ready for spring!

    • February 20, 2013 10:51 pm

      Deb, I did get a nice dose of winter while I was home in Maine for the holidays, but we haven’t had much of a winter in southern Pennsylvania, either — just lots of cold northwest winds, which are my least favorite part of winter. So, like you, I am feeling ready for spring. Unfortunately, my cheery forsythia blooms are starting to droop and the outdoor ones won’t bloom for another 4-6 weeks.

  9. February 17, 2013 6:54 am

    Excited for you to be able to see the sedum crowns. We are in a frozen wonderland still. I always forget to force the forsythia indoors, but now after reading this, I am heading out to clip a few for my kitchen. Thanks for the reminder Jean, love visiting you here. Sandi

    • February 20, 2013 10:52 pm

      Sandi, We’ve had very little real winter weather in southern PA. I’m glad to give you a forsythia reminder. These started to bloom about a week after I cut them and brought them in. I may have to go cut some more for forcing, since these are beginning to fade.

  10. February 17, 2013 2:42 pm

    Cyclamen are lovely indoor plants. I have always been a fan of them, indoors and out. Despite restarting my Amaryllis into flower late last September (supposedly in time for Christmas!) I have only now got a bud on the point of opening. Even so the flowers are worth the wait.

    • February 21, 2013 10:37 am

      I’m quickly becoming convinced that amaryllis bulbs have minds of their own and that we shouldn’t put too much faith in our attempts to force them to bloom on our schedule. I agree, though, that the flowers are a gift whenever they appear.

  11. February 17, 2013 3:49 pm

    Interesting observation about being halfway beween winter solstice and spring equinox 🙂 The forsythia looks lovely in the vase – dare I suggest better than on the plant? 😉

    • February 21, 2013 10:40 am

      Cathy, I confess that I am a very inconstant lover of forsythia. I love it in mid-late winter when I can force it into bloom indoors and in early spring when its bright flowers are a feast for color-starved eyes. The rest of the year, I tend to ignore it in favor of other beauties.

  12. February 17, 2013 6:34 pm

    You do need some hellebores in PA but then I guess you will be moving to Maine permanently so why bother.

    • February 21, 2013 10:42 am

      Carolyn, Yes, hellebores would have been perfect in this garden; they just weren’t on my radar screen. It makes no sense to add new perennials to this garden now — especially since the next tenant may have no interest in gardening.

  13. February 18, 2013 5:38 am

    Hi Jean, The thing that really grabbed me was your forsythia, blooming about four weeks earlier than it does here.

    • February 21, 2013 10:44 am

      Alistair, It will be about 4-6 weeks until the forsythia blooms outdoors here, too. But this is the easiest of plants to force into bloom. The first flowers opened on these branches about a week after I cut them and brought them indoors. (I think I need to cut some more this weekend, since these are starting to fade.)

  14. February 18, 2013 11:16 am

    How exciting that you are seeing some growth in the garden. All of my plants are still covered with snow. Glad to see your amaryllis are reblooming. Hoping to try that with my bulbs, which have just finished blooming.

    • February 21, 2013 10:47 am

      Karen, I’m pretty sure that all the plants in my Maine garden are still covered with snow, but spring arrives much earlier in my southern Pennsylvania garden. Last year, when I flew back from my spring break in Maine in mid-March, I could see large blobs of yellow and pink from the air as we descended into the Baltimore airport; these turned out to be forsythia and magnolia in bloom.

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