Winter! Or is it?
Usually we are wrapped in sweaters and coats with scarves and mittens as we scurry about with holiday preparations and celebrations. This year, despite a few chilly nights, the warm weather has lingered. This weather pattern has initiated the opening of many flower buds in gardens throughout the area, creating quite a unique holiday landscape scene. There is nothing we, as gardeners, can do to stop the action but we can enjoy the beauty of each blossom and consider it a gift.
At home, my Viburnum tinus ‘Compacta’ (spring bouquet viburnum) is glorious and the Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) is twining yellow blossoms up the trunck of a pine, while the Daphne odora (winter daphne) buds are actually opening, not just teasing me as I anticipate their heady fragrance.
At Maymont the Lonicera fragrantissima (sweet-breath-of-spring) is in full bloom, perfuming the air with their sweet light scent. The Chaenomeles japonica (Japanese quince) is dotting red blossoms along the hillsides where Mrs. Dooley planted these low growing thornless quince 100 years ago. Elsewhere Camellia sp. are in their full glory with each bud opening lush and beautiful rather than being frozen closed as in years past. Reports of Viburnum burkwoodii (Burkwood viburnum) and Malus sp. (crabapple) in full bloom are marvelled at for the unseasonal display.
These early spring bloomers are being forced by the weather but the seasonal display of berries and blossoms are present as well. For instance, Maymont’s Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) is just glorious and right on schedule, as it perfumes the air with intense sweetness from the numerous small clear yellow flowers that populate each branch every winter from December to February.
The question is “will this affect the spring show” and the answer is “somewhat.” Flower buds only open once but we are enjoying just a small percentage of blossoms that our landscapes will still be filled with color come spring. I recommend sitting back and enjoying the weather and the beautiful display of flowers so unique for this time of year, after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!
Photo: Wintersweet with polyantha roses blooming in the background, December 22, 2011