Picking January Flowers--Camellia and Prunus mume

Everyone has flowers in the spring and summer–but winter flowers are special.  They break up the grey landscape, bring the outdoors in, and to me they feel like progress–the passing of the season, the coming of more. 

They also remind me of my progress as a gardener.  On this last Monday in January, there are 6 kinds of plants blooming in my garden.  It didn’t start out that way.  I bought the color where I saw it–flats from the Harris Teeter, the Lowes.  I made hundreds of impulse purchases–better make that thousands–before I started building a garden that would bloom for me year around.  

So what’s blooming today? 

Camellias and Prunus Mume from my favorite local nursery, Camellia Forest.  The Parks family (yes, the same Dr. Parks who taught blog-partner Melissa botany at UNC) are geniuses.  Nationally know camellia breeders, they have introduced countless new camellia hybrids to the world.  Their plants are tough, well-grown and handle transplant really well.  In the horrible drought a couple summers ago, none of my Camellia Forest plants died.  The nursery  also offers a number of Asian plants (Prunus mume for one) which are hard to find.    Check them out at www.camforest.com if you’re ready to move beyond the limited selection at the big box store. 

Wintersweet– May be  my favorite winter plant.  One–because I grew mine from seed, my first big success.  And two because it lays down these wonderful  patches of fragrance on sunny days like today.   I love my Wintersweet so much,  last year I made a video about it and put it on YouTube.  (link TBA)

Aromatherapy for outdoor chores--Wintersweet on 1/25/2010

Rijnveld’s Early Sensation Daffodils have bloomed as early as January 1st for me.  Because of our cold weather over the holidays, this year’s first blooms arrived last week.  Who doesn’t love yellow daffodils?

Bearsfoot Helleborus–also a long ago purchase from Camellia Forest.  I love green flowers and this one blooms for two months or more. 

Pansies and  Violas–Not a lot of landscape impact this month–they’re too small.  Still–it’s nice to cut blooms for the house and they’ll look like a million bucks in a month or two.  But so will a lot of other flowers.  In January–the dead of winter, every little bit of color stands out.  

So what’s you’re favorite source of winter color?  And another important question for Carolina gardeners–what do you see when you look out  of your kitchen window this month?