Friday, February 14, 2014

What's Blooming: February 2014

Marshmallow trees, cotton ball shrubs and whipped cream covered landscapes. That's what's blooming at my house today. Well, given the extra dumping of snow we got from the recent nor'easter, that's what it looks like anyway. Yes, it's pretty, but I am counting the days until I can see the ground again. 

The crape myrtle standing among a sea of snow. 

The weeping spruce and Japanese maple look like they are covered with marshmallow fluff. Thankfully they have remained strong through this winter. 

A variegated holly or a cotton field? 

The holly is not only covered with snow, but there are icicles hanging off the leaves in the front. I'll try to dust off some of the snow if it's not too heavy but the ice I will leave alone. Trying to remove that could cause more harm than good. 

On the plus side, however, I have been hearing more song birds outside. A true sound of spring. Maybe they know something we don't?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Amaryllis to Keep Me Sane

Long Island just got another dumping of snow yesterday, with more expected over the next few days. Yes, it's lovely, but I am aching for spring to come. I'm anxious to see my bulbs emerge from the ground and the trees come alive with bright green leaves. Thankfully, I have a beautiful blooming amaryllis on my windowsill to brighten my day and remind me that spring will come eventually. 

The plants commonly called amaryllis are actually members of the Hippeastrum genus, which consist of many species and hybrids of bulbous, flowering plants. The scientific name Hippeastrum is Greek for "horseman's star" - a reference to the large star-shaped flowers. Most of the species are native to South America.

Soon after the bulb is planted, a large flower stalk emerges topped with a cluster of trumpet shaped flowers. As the flowers begin to fade, large strap-like green leaves emerge. The flower stalk is removed and the leaves can remain ornamental for quite some time. These leaves produce food by photosynthesis and store it in the bulb. Eventually, the leaves wither and die allowing the bulb to go into dormancy. If kept in a cool, dry spot, it can bloom for you again next year. 

Maybe next year we won't get as much snow. But winter will still be cold and gray. You can bet I'll have another amaryllis on my windowsill to help keep me sane while my garden hibernates until spring.