February bloom report

rosefollyFebruary 20, 2012

Here in the SF Bay Area it is definitely spring. At less than three inches of rain so far and very little frost, we never really had a winter.

I thought it might be fun to see what is currently blooming in various gardens. Here in mine, many plants are budding out. Early daffodils are in bloom, as is the rosemary. Other bulbs include the first few spring starflowers and some very pretty blue bulb I planted and forgot to record.

Mystery bulb I planted last year -- English bluebell?

Alas, so is the bittercress in bloom. Long ago I nicknamed this the Exploding Seed Weed, and of course, the oxalis is opening its cheerful and prolific flowers. I try to pull up a minimum of 100 oxalis a day, sometimes a 1000. 'Menton' tulips have sent up leaves, telling me that these may actually be perennial here, that is, if the gophers don't get them all.

As for roses, all the roses I recently pruned are starting to put forth new leaves. Which will bloom first for me? Probably it will be no contest, as I am seeing a pale tease of gold on the buds of my Double Yellow Lady Banks. I'm thinking it will have no problem living up to its alternate name, the Income Tax Rose.

What is going on in the garden in your part of the world this February 2012?


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jo_pyeweed(z9 SF Bay Area)

Rosefolly - My part of the world is not too far from yours. I am mid-Peninsula in the Bay Area. Your mystery blue bulb looks like hyacinth to me. At least that's what I have been calling mine, which are blooming too. Their fragrance wafts and I love that I can smell them as I work in the wintry garden weeding and cleaning up! The grape hyacinth are in bloom as well - little blobs of purply-blue all over the garden.

What I call my "reliable" daffodils are in their full glory right now. They come back each year bigger and better - I have no idea what kind they are. The flowers are a very vibrant and saturated yellow.

I just cut back the last of the spent Paperwhites. Normally, Paperwhites flower for me in November. This year they flowered in December and the lack of heavy rain allowed them to remain spotless white for the whole of December, January and well into the first week in February.

The primrose flowers are beginning to peek out and I have had a few blooms on one of the daylilies already while the rest are showing buds.

There's a bush in flower - spiky leaves almost like Rosemary and small white flowers with no fragrance. I don't know what it is. Oh, and the Loropetalum - Chinese Fringe Flower - is in flower. I have variegated one with pink flowers and am on the look out for the white flowered one.

And, the roses. All of them, except for Rose de Rescht and Marchesa Boccella are leafing out nicely. Madame Antoine Mari with her plum colored foliage. Out of the 3 hybrid teas that came with the house, two are already show big, fat buds. I haven't even laid out the compost yet.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Jo Pyeweed, I did think it looked like a hyacinth, only more wildflower-y. In fact it looks very much like 'Roman Blue' offered by Old House Gardens, and I order regularly from Old House Gardens. The thing is that I remember ordering English bluebells and I don't remember ordering any hyacinths. I never did have much memory so I can't even say that I'm losing it.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Here in eastern Pa. some of the crocus are blooming---the kind that reseed all over the yard---many daffys have buds----can spring be far behind?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:48PM
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I remember the excitement of the first crocuses. They don't do well here, not enough chill.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:03PM
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Campanula UK Z8

oh, nothing much to see in my garden yet. The blue flowers are one of the scilla family (or squills) - there are several with unspellable names but I think not english bluebells (scilla nutans or hycanthoides non-scripta). Siberian squill maybe?(scilla sibirica) English bluebells will not be out for us till April - quite a bit after chionodoxas and hyacinths. In Scotland, they wont make an appearance till May or even June. Fabulous fragrance, whereas the bigger spanish types have none (as well as being the thuggish sorts which hybridise with the english bluebells and take over - years later, I am still pulling bulbs out)
However, I do have a lovely chaenomeles (flowering quince) about to open - a particularly good scarlet variety (Rowallane?) which has leaves as well. Looks startling against black timber - very japanese. This will have to keep me going, along with snowdrops, for a few weeks yet - although there are little fat buds visible in the narcissi....and as I had a bit of a spree, ordering more in the autumn, they are something to look forward to. Lots of white triandrus types and the very fragrant jonquillas. Mmmm, sighing with anticipation.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 5:58AM
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I have some bulbs in my garden that look exactly like your mystery - they called them "wood hyacinth" when I ordered them. The good news is that, after 20 years, they are still coming up exactly where I planted them, and bloom every Spring with no troubles at all.

In my garden the Japanese quince, daffodils, narcissus, Crimson King iris, hellebores, camellias, and even some crocus are all in full bloom. And, of course, the oxalis. I guess that constant pulling up will reduce them, but they grow from tiny bulbs that are 12-18 inches below the surface, so I just pull them up where they are interfering with other plants, and have learned to enjoy their Spring brightness. I am with you on which rose will be first - my banksie lutea is setting flower buds all over it - can't wait, as it is 3 stories tall. It is actually a bit late this year - must have been waiting for some rain.

Here is a Spring picture I took yesterday:


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

I have had some nice gifts from early-blooming roses. R. primula which arrived bareroot from Pickering only in December, started blooming in January and still is. R. xanthina has multiple buds popping up off the canes. Two of my pink R. minutifolia have been blooming for weeks, and my one white one has buds ready to open any day. But the biggest surprise has come from the hybrid perpetual Abbe Brameral, which went dormant and leafless during this winter. Well, I glanced over at it in January and noticed a big lump on one of the bare canes. Thought maybe it was some kind of insect nest or something. Went over to look and that lump was a flower bud. In January, on an hp with night temps still in the thirties??? That bud has opened to a beautiful black-red color and the plant now has lots more buds (with frilly tops!) at the ends of the canes which have added some leaves. But flowers before the foliage? Kind of an unsual habit compared to my other hp's which are just starting to leaf out--nary a sign of a flower on them yet.

Quite a difference in which roses are growing rapidly and getting leaves, some are barely waking up or still sleeping. R. fedschenkoana which was completely naked is now covered in pine-scented leaves. Roberta Bondar is growing like mad, while Felicite Parmentier has just begun to unfurl a few leaves. Both mosses from Pickering in December, Rene d'Anjou and Soupert et Notting, already have lots of lush foliage, maybe coming from a much colder climate they are just going nuts here??? Golden Border continues to amaze me. It only took a brief respite from blooming in January and the flowers buds are starting to form again.

Other plants that are blooming include lily of the valley, carnations, strawberries, bush marigolds, pincushion flower, snapdragons, stock, campanula, veronica, violas and violets, black-eyed susan, yellow California poppies, and cranesbill geranium. Daffodils, freesia, and crocus are up but not quite ready to bloom yet.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:02PM
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I agree with Campanula. The blue flowers look like Scilla (Squill), probaly S. sibirica (Siberian squill). The most common of these in the trade here in the US is 'Spring Beauty' which is an intense cobalt blue, although there are other species and cultivars. Squill are earlier and shorter than hyacinths, about 6" here, and the leaves are less chubby, for want of a better word.

Blooming here are Christmas Rose, Lenten Rose (Hellebores, niger, hybrida, nigrecors), Winter Aconite (Eranthis hiemalis), Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis - singles and double, plicata and hybrids), Crocus (C. tommasinianus, C. ancyrensis and others whose names are lost to time) and there is just the beginnings of a bud on the Clivia stored in the garage. Still not much color even though this year the garden is early by a good month. I hate to even mention it for fear of reprisals but this has been a zone 8 winter. The temperature has not even gotten down to +10 F. I am enjoying every minute of it. We have had flowers throughout the winter for the first time ever.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Campanula UK Z8

oh that is a pretty oxalis though.Is it O.Pes Caprae? Although we get various species such as wood sorrel and iron cross (triangularis?) we also have a nastily disgusting little oxalis weed which seems to arrive from somewhere and never ever leave - horrid tangly roots and tiny dark brown leaves with minute flowers which invades every pot, every crack. Horrible horrible....but yours reminds me of a very late flowering one (for us) we sometimes get as an alpine from Chile - name escapes me. Vaguely recall it being called Ken something (late at night)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

The ornamental Apricot is blooming. It does every Feb. Daffodils, Muscari, Paper Whites, Ceanothus, Quince, the fragrant Viburnum, Primroses, Euphorbia, Rosemary, groundcover Veronica, Lenten Roses, Witchhazel. Roses are leafing out early. Here it comes!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 6:44PM
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My first year for bulbs, and what a relief it is to start having color this early and not be pining for the roses as hard as last year. The daffodils have been in bloom for a few weeks now and what perfectly formed flowers with the most lovely delicate fragrance. The english lavendar is flowering as well. Paper Whites flowered a few weeks ago and are about done. Hyacinths and Tulips are close to flowering. Crocus and Muscari just breaking through the ground. And the bearded irises planted last fall are breaking everywhere!

Roses are responding like gangbusters to their pruning and I fertilize them daily with my anxious stares.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:08AM
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Campanula - yes, the oxalis is Oxalis Pes Caprae. It has naturalized all over coastal California. If you want it in a garden, you just wait, and it will show up. The "invasive species" state folks say its impact in the wild is only "moderate" - probably because it is small, and the foliage melts away after Spring. We called it "sour grass" while munching on it when I was a child.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:28AM
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morrisnoor(z9b Sardinia Italy)

**Mystery bulb I planted last year**

Hi Rosefolly, it's an ancient variety of Hyacinthus orientalis, derived from H. o. var. albulus. Cultivated varieties -in white, blue, pink- are called "Roman Hyacinths" or "Multiflora Hyacinths". They're strong scented and bloom quite early, with many slender stems. The wild form, which is pure white, was blooming by Christmas in my garden. :o)


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:37AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Report from the MidWest:

Nothing blooming in my yard .. .. but I did see a row of yellow daffodils 2 blocks away on the south side of a house, so I guess it's not a completely lost cause yet--though it feels like it at the moment.

Need that lift the first flowerings of the year bring!


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Thank you, Maurizio. That is the second mystery plant you have identified for me, the first being Dorycnium hirsutum sometime last year. I do like knowing what is growing in my garden.

This is a particularly delightful bulb. I do remember admiring it in the Old House Garden catalog, but did not remember ordering it. I called them up to confirm it after reading Maurizio's note, and the answer is yes, I did. So now it is official.

DublinBay, I think you need some daffodils in your own garden so that your winter cheer will be closer at hand. Or at least crocuses. Crocuses cheered my mother through many a dreary February.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 11:26AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I agree, rosefolly--in fact, I've had loads of daffodils and crocuses and other early spring-bloomers in my yard for years and years. What I meant was, they are not in bloom yet--although a block or so away, theirs have started blooming. No buds even yet in my yard. I'm going out and check for purple species crocuses in a few minutes--they usually are the earliest to bloom in Feb., so they better get busy before it passes them by!! : )


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:29PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

Most of my roses are sleepingish, but October Moon one of my new babies from last fall is blooming a bit:

and rosemary and daffodils of course! These are erlicheer.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 8:40PM
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