Friday, January 27, 2012

Color and Blooms in My January Garden


Don't hate me because I live in South Carolina.  The temperature was 70 degrees yesterday, and I opened the windows to let in the warm January air.  This winter has been unusually mild, but even in colder winters, something blooms or provides interesting foliage every day of the year in my garden.  Take advantage of late winter days to put some plants in your garden for blooms next winter. 
Hellebore blooms in the January garden

Golden Threadleaf Falsecypress

I have admired Golden Threadleaf Falsecypress shrubs for awhile, because they provide a hard-to-find chartreuse color in the garden. They are expensive, but I found one on sale this fall, and I love the constant color and texture.
Winter Jasmine
Winter Jasmine, or Jasminum nudiflorum, has been blooming since before Christmas. Temperatures in the twenties or teens may damage the blooms, but more will soon appear to replace them. It spreads by inserting the tips of its branches into the soil and forming roots, and it's something to keep an eye on in the garden so it doesn't take over. I have kept it under control by cutting it back in the late fall and pulling up any babies that rooted. Find a friend with one and they will give you baby plants.  Winter jasmine reminds me of forsythia, but it blooms earlier than forsythia, which usually saves its blooms for late February.
Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'

I have been pleasantly surprised by the Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue.' Not only does it bloom most of the summer, perhaps taking a small break during the hottest months, but it also continues blooming throughout the winter. It might stop for a little while during weather in the teens, but our weather this winter in the twenties have not bothered it. It only asks to be deadheaded every few weeks so it doesn't become confused and think its work is finished for the year. Like all the previously discussed plants, it likes full sun.
Every year I plant daffodils for spring color.  These are the earliest ones.
Pansies live through our winters, and although they may become tattered from cold weather,  after I trim them and fertilize them, they bloom until hot weather kills them.
Mahonia

Thirty years ago my great aunt Minnie brought the great-grandparents of this Mahonia, or Oregon Grape, to my grandmother from her home in Oregon. It was happy in the woods of northwestern South Carolina, and had so many babies, propagated by seed, that everyone in the family and many neighbors have them.  They are not invasive, though; they reproduce slowly and surprise the gardener with an occasional new shrub.  My grandmother helped me dig this shrub from her woods before she died several years ago, and every time I see it I think of her. It is native to Oregon, and it likes moist soil and shade; don't plant it in the full sun in South Carolina. The thorny leaves keep the deer from munching on it, usually. It's not quite in bloom yet, but the buds are ready to burst, and I know spring is arriving in my garden when I hear a bee buzzing and find honeybees enjoying the Mahonia's nectar on a warm winter day.


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