12 December 2012

A blast of colour for a December Day

 Suddenly, we're well into December and Christmas/Yule/Solstice and winter are rapidly approaching. There are deluges of posts and articles all about Christmas plants and winter interest and other seasonally appropriate topics. However, I'm not that keen on talking only about winter topics right now,   so instead, I thought I'd offer up some observations of favourite plants past and present. Starting with this 'Forest Pansy' redbud (Cercis canadensis), which will be one of the first purchases I make to plant in my new garden. I've already told Jill at Bunchberry Nurseries to put a good one aside for me next spring! This is its fall colour--in spring, its foliage is a rich wine-purple colour, and it doesn't even have to flower with foliage like this.
 Anyone who reads my sites and articles knows that I am besotted by blue flowers, be they annual, perennial, biennial--so long as they're really blue and not dyed or painted. Not a fan of those hideous dyed blue phalaenopsis, but I love this annual, Anagallis, also known by the common names blue pimpernel and poor-man's weatherglass, because it closes up in cloudy or wet weather.

 For all the kitty-loving readers among my readership, a picture of the incredibly sweet and bad Snickerdoodle Bug, peeking through one of my stephanotis plants. "Who me, in the flowers? Never!" No, not much. 
 One of my favourite annuals, especially for hot dry conditions, is lantana. This is a great butterfly-attracting plant, and comes in a dizzying variety of named cultivars. This one is 'Sunset Rose', shown here with a bacopa (cultivar unknown, but it might be one of the gold-leafed forms). Lantanas don't like cold weather, and they do very well in containers, as there are both upright and trailing forms available.
 In my previous gardens, I had a number of lewisias, or bitterroots, growing in the alpine bed. The secret to doing well with these is to give them excellent drainage, and to mulch the soil underneath their foliage with pea gravel or coarse sand to prevent water from splashing on the leaves and causing rot. This variety looks like it's probably 'Little Plum', but there are numerous coloured forms available, with pink, orange, magenta, and yellow flowers.
 Another blue-flowered plant, this one a perennial, Lindelofia. It's related to forget me nots, anchusa and brunnera, and is very tolerant of clay soil. I bought two plants from a small nursery many years ago, whose owners had grown it from seed, so I'm going to try growing it from seed myself, since I don't think we dug and moved it.
This is a type of African daisy, Venidium, which I haven't seen offered for several years. That's a great pity, because like Osteospermum, once the risk of frost is past in the spring this annual blooms like gangbusters well into autumn, until that hard fall frost finally does it in. It comes in orange, red, or these cheery pink flowers, with grey-green foliage that makes a nice foil to the flowers. 
 Segueing into indoor plants now, with one of my favourites for winter: the cyclamen. I was given a white-flowered one at Hort East by the lovely people from Jolly Farmer, and it's a fragrant variety. My other cyclamen aren't fragrant, but they bloom prodigiously, and their foliage is so gorgeous they don't even have to bloom to make me happy.
 I have quite a number of orchids in my home, including several oncidium types. This one has been blooming for weeks: it's called 'Hawaiian Sunset', and the best thing about it is its lovely fragrance, which seems to come in waves throughout the day. It's been blooming for weeks and is pushing new buds still so I hope to enjoy it for some weeks yet!
If you haven't gotten into orchids because you have heard they are too fussy, you ought to start with moth orchids, phalaenopsis. That's how I got started, some years ago, and I've expanded my collection to include a few paphiopedilums (lady slipper orchids) as well as the oncidiums mentioned above. Phalaenopsis are such easy going, forgiving, and long, long blooming orchids, you just can't get along with only one. Just avoid those hideous blue-dyed ones, okay?
Because we know what sort of losses and changes have happened in my life this year, I'm not doing much in the way of Christmas decorating, contenting myself with enjoying the season at other people's homes, including my family and friends. I d, however, love this quick and easy way to make a centre piece using a few small twigs of fir, pine, holly, euonymous, and some multiflora rose hips and a couple pine cones. Arrange in a dish with a little piece of florist's oasis or a kenzan/flowerfrog, set it into a basket or other holiday-themed container, and you have a cheery accent for coffee or dining room table. 
Meet the newest feline member of my household, Tuxedo Laverne, who I 'adopted' from Tuxedo Stanley. You may have heard of Tuxedo Stan, who ran for mayor of Halifax during the recent municipal elections, hoping to get new laws and protections in place for homeless and suffering cats in the municipality and beyond. He has a store of goods, including his Minions, with all proceeds going to help Spay Day Nova Scotia, an excellent program that needs our help. I'm all about helping the helpless, especially felines, so I was happy to adopt Tuxedo Laverne, seen here posing with my wreath from Ouest-ville Perennials.

I am spending the Christmas season with my son in Toronto, and after that I'm having my own late Christmas gift: a knee replacement surgery. So I may be sporadic in posting over the next number of weeks, but I'll be on Facebook and Twitter when possible whilst in the hospital, where I'll only be for a few short days before returning home, where a friend is staying with me til I'm back on both feet again. Here's hoping for a very Happy Knee Year for me...and for all of you, the happiest of Christmas seasons, and the best in 2013.


  1. Wishing you a peaceful Christmas in TO, and hoping for great success with your knee operation, in the New Year. Blessings.

  2. Good luck with the knee surgery. I had a replacement in May 2011 and it has been the best thing I ever did. I can now bend, and move without pain.

  3. I'm not so keen on the winter stuff either. Can't wait until spring! Happy Holidays, and good luck with the knee surgery.

  4. Jodi I'm with you. We have PLENTY of time ahead of us to talk about winter! I saw those nasty blue orchids in the grocery store the other day. Worse than the colour was the price they were charging for those things.

  5. Jodi, all the best for the coming year. A healed body and a strong spirit.

  6. Loving the look at some of my fav flowers during this dreary time...good luck on the surgery and speedy recovery.

  7. I hope you have a Happy Knee Year indeed, and a wonderful Christmas! Good luck in your surgery!

  8. Christmas can be the most difficult of times. I try to ignore it for the most part. I avoid malls and happily the CBC isn't playing too much Christmas music.

    Love looking at all those non-winter plants.

    I think the new knee will be a real game-changer for you.

    When you resume blogging, we'll all be in that dreamy winter phase where we like to think about the spring to come ...

    Happy Knee Year !

  9. Glad your spending Christmas with your son, he is so sweet, good luck with the knee surgery, I'll bet you'll be on here alot, I don't think you'll be a spring chicken for a while after surgery. Better get some advice on knee surgery from Crafty Gardener, sounds like she did excellent! TTFN Sue

  10. I'll wish you a Happy Knee Year if you'll do the same for me! No tree at our house either. The kids can't make it down, so we'll go to them instead. If they don't come, I don't put up a tree! My friends tease me about it, but I don't care.

  11. Thanks for this blast of colour, Jodi. This time of the year it's always a welcome sight. Wishing you lots of luck with your surgery and a speedy recovery. :)


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