Blooming plants beat the winter blues

Budding hyacinth on forcing vase.

I don’t know how you feel about winter, but if you’ve read RDR in the last eight years, you know it’s not my favorite season. That’s an understatement. Oklahoma skies are gray and bleak throughout January and February, which can give a red dirt girl the winter blues. I see more rain and snow forecast for today and tomorrow. Whoopee. I’m glad we’re getting rain, and I know the garden needs its rest, but those gray skies can sure bring me down.

Budding hyacinths and paperwhites grace one window.
Budding hyacinths and paperwhites grace one window.

Here’s the good news. We’re seventeen days past the winter solstice, so our days are already growing longer. The bad news? January and February in Oklahoma aren’t much fun, and we only have St. Valentine’s Day to distract us. I have some ideas to help gardeners get through the rest of winter.

A silver pot of lily of the valley.
A silver pot of lily of the valley.

Let’s take exquisite care of ourselves. Don’t forget to gently exercise. Use light therapy, like NatureBright’s SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp, if you need it.

Gardeners also need flowers, and blooming plants beat the winter blues. We don’t just quit loving our gardens in winter even though we realize everyone needs a rest. We need plants and their gentle rhythms in winter too. If you’re having a bad day, take a handful of potting soil and sniff it. It might help you find yourself again.

The sweet peas are growing nicely in the greenhouse.
The sweet peas and coleus are growing nicely in the greenhouse.

If you’re lucky, you have an entire greenhouse of green growing plants, but if not, you can still grow a lot indoors. I’m not terribly excited about the tropicals we see in every store this time of years unless they’re in terrariums, so I focus upon winter bloomers. From lily of the valley to hyacinths forced on hyacinth vases and in pots, my house is decorated everywhere with these early signs of spring.

Hyacinths on glass. It's the beginning of an indoor garden.
Hyacinths on glass. It’s the beginning of an indoor garden.

My living room, called a great room in log cabin lingo, is quite large, 18 x 36 feet. That’s why I can force so many hyacinths at once. I realize the scent gets to other people, but it isn’t very strong in here. I also keep the house quite cool so blooms will continue as long as possible.

Blooming plants beat the winter blues. Hippeastrum 'Red Pearl' amaryllis is the most scrumptious shade of red.
Hippeastrum ‘Red Pearl’ amaryllis is the most scrumptious shade of red.

I have one amaryllis that never broke dormancy. I’ve never had that happen, and I’m bit irritated by the recalcitrant bulb. I put it next to ‘Red Pearl.’ Maybe that will embarrass it into performing. Maybe not.

The closet is still full of hyacinth vases so I have a long way to go. I’ll also head out to the grocery store and see if I find any other plants blooming. Locally, Whole Foods has a lot to choose from. Buying a few orchids or other plants is a lot cheaper than therapy.

Bouquet of roses grown in California and sold at Whole Foods.
Bouquet of roses grown in California and sold at Whole Foods.

Don’t forget to buy yourself a bouquet of cut flowers too. If you can find some that are American Grown, so much the better. On these cloudy days, I find I need a bouquet now and again. These roses my daughter bought for my mother’s birthday dinner were so beautiful they took my breath away.

The Christmas lights have come and gone so it’s good to look at something beautiful. What are your strategies to beat the winter blues? Flowers are mine.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: late winter

The watering can and I both are waiting for spring

It’s Bloom Day again, that once a month miracle hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. I don’t have much to show, but signs that some things are gearing up for spring are there. Some of the garden remains green like Rosa ‘Cl. Old Blush’ above. Except during the harshest winters, it stays green until January. Then, we get a cold snap like the one last week, and its leaves also turn a soft brown.

Hippeastrum 'Dancing Queen' mislabled as 'Elvas'

Brown is everywhere I look, but I turn my head and ignore it, instead focusing on what’s indoors. I have a few blooming Hippeastrum, bulbs formerly known as amaryllis. A little name swap-a-roo not unline the artist formerly known as Prince, who became the woman/man symbol for awhile and when it didn’t suit him, became Prince again. It’s all so confusing. No matter what they’re called, the Hippeastrum put on quite the show this season. I’m still waiting on ‘Ambiance’ to bloom, and it will in a few days, but here’s ‘Dancing Queen’ mislabled as Elvas.

African violets and cloche

The Christmas cacti have come and gone, but the African violets keep repeating their bloom and rest cycle. I love these little non-violets. They are inexpensive, and if you remember not to water them too often and keep water off their hairy leaves, they do well. You don’t even need to feed them very often.

At 55F, today is a lot nicer than last week. I’m itching to plant some seeds or prune the roses, but it’s not yet time. I must wait. In the meantime, I’ll dream through catalogs and await the seed packets which are like small presents in the mail. Oh, and as long as the mail stays within the mailbox, Tap is sure not to destroy and eat it.

Tap and Prancer. See those dirty paws. He digs too.

So far, Tap 4, Packages 0. We’re in the process of building a box for the mail carriers in which to place the packages. Hopefully, he won’t chew through the wood.

Happy Bloom Day everyone. I hope your skies are blue, and if you have snow, the sun is shining upon it.