Bloomin Friday

Bloomin' Friday: Winter Edition

Mid-January in western Michigan is a very bleak and gloomy time.  Winter has taken hold by now.  Bitter cold.  Lots of snow.  Perpetual cloud cover.  And even though we enjoyed a January Thaw yesterday, it was bleak.  Rain, fog, grey skies.  We haven't seen the sun in a while.  And overnight, the temperature plunged over 30 degrees and it is snowing again.

Fun times.

I need something to brighten my dreary corner of the world.


Enter . . . amaryllis.  The most magical of all flowers (at least, in the middle of winter).

My strategy with amaryllis . . . is to plant them a bit later in the fall.  I don't need blooms at Christmastime.  I need blooms in the bleak days of January and February!

They are the bright spots in my very bleak landscape.


Bring on the blooms!


Another Friday . . . Another Amaryllis

It's Friday.  The end of a hectic week.  

In fact, things were so hectic around here that I nearly missed this amaryllis bloom.


Meet Rosy Star.  

Lovely -- but . . . a very, very short bloom-time.  Which was pretty disappointing, actually.  All the buds on both stems opened up at nearly the same time -- and then only lasted a couple of days.  I've never had an amaryllis "go" that quickly!

Oh, well.

A bright spot while it lasted!


Bloomin' Friday . . . Winter Edition

It's a cold and gloomy Friday here in my corner of the world.  It's sort of trying to snow.  The sun is nowhere to be seen.  It's gray out there.  And bleak.  And I have a bit of a cold.  Ugh.

This . . . is exactly the time I need amaryllis blooms to brighten my day.


This bloom is just stunning.  But it doesn't really photograph all that well.  It's a bulb called 'Grand Diva' from White Flower Farm -- and it truly is grand!  It's not really red, but it's not quite burgundy, either.  It looks a lot like velvet, and it has lovely, tonal highlights.

The flowers are huge!  There are currently four blooms on the first stem, and the bud on the second stem is just beginning to open.


On the other end of the bloom-spectrum, this one ('Tres Chic,' also from White Flower Farm) is winding down.  But if you look closely, you can see the bud on the second stem just beginning to open up.  (This is the bulb that started rotting.  I seemed to have halted the rot, but that second stem never really got any taller.  I definitely stressed this one.)


This one, 'Rosy Star' from White Flower Farm, is just opening.  Both buds at the same time.  I can't wait to see this one.  I love white amaryllis -- and this one is supposed to have a pinkish cast.  Anticipation!


And then . . . there is my ver-r-r-ry slow amaryllis.  This one is definitely taking it's time!  By process of elimination, I know that this one is called 'Stardust' (White Flower Farm) -- and it is the one I'm most excited to see.  But.  I'll need to continue being patient.  Because it's going to be awhile yet.


Some years I pick up amaryllis bulbs at local nurseries; some years I pick up "kits" at Target; some years I go the grocery-store-rescue route; and some years I order bulbs from White Flower Farm.  They are ALL wonderful options when it comes to having beautiful blooms in the house!  But.  I've gotta say . . . those bulbs from White Flower Farm?  They are worth every penny!  The bulbs are big and healthy.  The blooms are gigantic.  The stems are more sturdy and don't flop over so easily.  And the colors on the blooms are just amazing.  (Plus -- you get to pick which varieties you want.  Which is always the hardest part for me - but most fun, too.)  

And, because I made such an investment this year (bulbs from WFF run between $18 and $25 per plain bulb), I'm thinking I might want to "rebuild" my bulbs -- and try to get them to bloom again next year.  

Interested in preserving your own bulbs for next year?  Here are the "rebuilding" steps from White Flower Farm:

  • After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5" above the bulb.
  • DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF.  They produce food that will be stored in the bulb -- and the bulb needs them!
  • Put the plant in a sunny window where it will receive 6-8 hours of direct sun each day.  (South-facing is best, but I don't have any south-facing windows, so I go with an east-facing window.  It seems to work.)
  • Water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month.  (The fertilizer is rather important.  Those poor bulbs are exhausted after producing those flowers!)
  • In the spring - once the danger of frost has passed - set the pot outdoors in full sun OR knock the bulbs out of the pots and plant them right in the ground in a sunny location.  Continue to provide fertilizer.
  • In the fall, bring the bulb indoors (WFF recommends waiting until the frost blackens the leaves), cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store in a cool (55 degrees F), dark place (basement) for 8-10 weeks.  Don't water.  Don't feed.
  • Then, re-pot the bulb and water it.  Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges.  (And keep your fingers crossed!)

I'm going to try it this year!  I need some indoor gardening chores to get me through these dark days of winter.


I also picked up another blooming bulb at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago:


Here's some "gardener advice" if you see these in the grocery store and are tempted to grab a pot for yourself:  Unless it's a gift for someone and you need blooming RIGHT NOW, be particular about your bulb purchase.  Pick the pot with barely-just-emerging buds.  Kind of like this . . . 


That's the same pot of hyacinth, two weeks earlier.  By choosing the most just-emerging pot I could find, I have had the joy of watching the buds emerge -- and I'll get to enjoy the blooms longer, too!  

Happy Friday, everyone!


Friday Catch Up With Added Amaryllis-Watch Bonus

It's Friday, and there are a few loose ends I need to tie up.  Let's roll.


The weather.  Ugh.  So tedious.  First, there's snow.  Then there's polar vortex.  Then a freakish warm up.  With lots of wind.  And rain.  Which melts all the snow and then . . . freezes.

So there's that.

Next up?


I wore my hat - With Pom - the other day.  Just out running errands, getting gas, that kind of thing.  The pom-pom drove me nuts.  I could feel it back there, bobbing around.  It had to go.  (Yeah, it was a nice color combination, but it really bugged me.)  I like the hat much better Without Pom.

In other news, Linda from Grand Rapids was the lucky winner of my extra copy of Making magazine.  I finally got it shipped off to her yesterday.  (I'm notorious for preparing a package for mailing, and then driving it around in my car for days before I actually get to the post office.) 


Ugh.  Winter with no snow is just . . . bleak.

Good thing I have amaryllis (in various stages) to help me through these dark days.

My grocery-store-rescue amaryllis is on the last legs of it's second set of blooms.  I'll spare you that view (because we're way past the exit at this point), and share this one instead.


This one is pretty cool.  It's called Tres Chic (from White Flower Farm).  (Now that it's blooming, I can identify it.)  The blooms are much smaller than typical amaryllis -- but look closely at the center of the photo.  There are going to be SIX blooms on this stalk, rather than the typical four.  I can't wait to see all six blooms at once.  Or. . .  let's just say I HOPE I get to see all six blooms at once.  This one is making me a bit nervous -- because the bulb is actually rotting.  (Yeah.  It's pretty gross.)  This is a risk of planting the bulb in stones with water.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed . . . that the blooming happens before the bulb gives out.

This next one, though, is looking good.  The bulb is healthy and the first bud should be popping open any day now. 


This one?  Almost in the same state.  Maybe next week?


Remember the bulb I thought was going to be a fail?  Well.  Turns out it's just v-e-r-y s-l-o-w.


The bud finally emerged, but it's really taking it's sweet time making progress.  That's just fine with me, though.  Because it means I'll have blooms all the way into February!

And . . . that's a wrap!

Have a great weekend.



Bloomin Friday: About Those Amaryllis

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I planted four amaryllis bulbs I had ordered from White Flower Farm.  And then, I "rescued" a poor grocery store amaryllis . . . shivering in the cold at the front entrance of the store and subjected to the constant bell-ringing of the Salvation Army brigade.

I knew that none of my bulbs would be blooming by Christmas -- and I was totally fine with that.  My intention was not holiday-bloom . . . but blooming delight later in the season.  When those dark days of winter set in and there aren't so many bright spots.

Let's check in and see how those bulbs are progressing, shall we?

First, there's Mr. Grocery Store Rescue amaryllis.


Lovely . . . in that just basic white way.  I love the hints of neon green in the center and on the tips of the petals.  There are two blooms open now; two more on the way -- and an entire second stalk to go.

Two of my White Flower Farm bulbs are really on the move.  This one has two stalks that emerged together, and have been shooting up in a kind of neck-and-neck race.


While this one sent up one stalk right away -- and I can just see a new one emerging from the leaves.


What I'm loving about these White Flower Farm bulbs is how big and strong and healthy the stems and buds are.  There is a notable difference between Mr. Grocery Store Amaryllis and these bulbs from White Flower Farm.  I can't wait to see these bulbs explode into bloom.


Then there's this one.



No evidence of a bud at all.

(And, trust me, I check several times a day.)

The bulb looks very healthy; the leaves are strong.  But there has been no growth in days.  And no bud.  I'm afraid this one may be a disappointment.  (Although I'm still holding hope that maybe it's just . . . slow.)

And then, there is this one.  My favorite!  This was the biggest bulb of them all -- so big that it wouldn't fit in my chosen glass containers.  (I had to dig out a huge vase for this guy.)


This one was slow to bud, too.  But look at it!  Look at the colors in the bud!  I'm so excited.  I just know this one is going to be a stunner when it pops open.  (And see that bit of green at the bottom of the bulb?  This amaryllis is sending up an entire second "bulb" from the bottom.  It's super healthy and wants to grow.)

These bulbs are bringing me much hygge-enjoyment (except for that one I'm fretting over. . . but what else would gardening be without fretting).  I'm looking forward to sharing their blooms with you in 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone.  


Bloomin' Friday

When I put my garden beds together, I try to make sure I have something blooming pretty much all the time - spring to fall.  

I especially love the fall blooms -- toad lily, goldenrod, sedum, autumn clematis -- because they bring such a wonderful POP to the garden as it prepares for the dormant season.

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Enjoy your weekend.  I hope you find something lovely . . . blooming . . . in your corner of the world.


Between Thunderstorms

It's Friday, so let's step out into my garden and see what's going on.

(But we'll have to move quickly -- before another thunderstorm moves in.)


This is a bloom on my Satori dogwood tree.  Sadly, there are not many of them this year.  (I think the timing of one of our late spring freezes interruped the bloom-formation.)  I'm just going to have to enjoy the few blooms that made it all the more!


I'm really happy with my allium-floating-over-hosta corner.  I was inspired to try this after my visit to the Chicago Botanical Garden last spring (they had acres of this sort of thing), so I planted a bunch of allium bulbs in the fall . . . and here we are!  Just what I'd hoped for.


I love clematis -- I have several varieties in my garden, and they'll be blooming at various stages throughout the garden for the next couple of weeks.  


And this?  It is a garden "gift" from my neighbors -- popping up this year in the "no-mans-land" behind their pool and hanging over my fence to bloom.  (Many nasty weeds in my garden come from this untamed, woodsy-area behind my neighbor's pool.)  My research shows that this is likely wild hydrangea  -- and, apparently, it "suckers freely" in wooded areas.  (At least the blooms are lovely.)  (And way better than their "gifts" of poison ivy and bindweed.)


And check out this strange, new "bloom"!  I'm really excited to add this new purple trellis to my garden this year.  It comes from local artist Lin McIntosh, and adds a delightful touch of whimsy to this border.  Nice pop of color now -- and will be perfect once this area (mostly salvia) begins to bloom (probably next week).

I'm planning to spend plenty of time out in my garden this weekend.  Hope you get a chance to enjoy a lovely weekend, too.

Bloomin' Friday

I've had a really busy week.  A bit of this, a little of that, and far too much of the other thing.  Good stuff, for the most part.  But not a whole lot of extra time.  Whenever I could, though, I got out in my garden.

Which is (finally) coming to life!


(Garden Buddha is so happy to be surrounded by creeping jenny . . . instead of snow!)

Everything is POPPING now!

Ferns unfurling.

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Leaves emerging.

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Hosta unrolling.

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And blooms?

Oh, yeah.  Blooms!

Lovely, incredible lilacs.

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Epimedium (barrenwort) with their sweet, barely-there flowers.

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Allium - just beginning to pop!  (More of my Hundreds of Bulbs from last fall.)

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And this unknown lily-type bulb.  I have them all over my yard -- white and pink and blue.  (I know I planted them as bulbs-obtained-cheaply Once Upon a Time -- but they have naturalized and now appear all over.)  (And I have no idea what they are.) (But I don't care.  Because wonderful.)

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I've also got hops.  (Oh, brother... Do I have hops...)  

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Garden Priority One this weekend?  Taming those hops.  (Before they take over the world.)

I hope there are lots of blooms in your world this Friday, too.
Happy weekend!

Bloomin' Friday

Okay.  So despite the persistent cold. . . and all the rain. . . and the fact that the sun has only been shining for a couple of hours in, well, weeks now. . . my garden is popping!

Let's see what's blooming THIS week.

To start, I've got an awfully lot of these . . . 


But.  They add color.  And the bees like them.  So there is that.

I've also got this going on . . . 


There's some grape hyacinth, and the yellow bits?  Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma, if you want to be technical).  And those pinkish things?  Weeds.  (It's called purple deadnettle, and I'm pulling it left and right.)  (Really.  It's everywhere this year.)

One of my spring favorites is going to town this year.  This is Jack Frost brunnera.


I have clouds of this all over my garden, and it is just lovely right now.

My poor, waterlogged quince is really trying to put on a show. 


Most of the blooms, though, are too soggy to look good in photographs.

This little shrub is called a fothergilla.  It's just getting started.


I love these odd little blooms -- tiny bottlebrushes . . . with a touch of chartreuse.  (You can see my blooming viburnum in the background -- if you squint a little and use your imagination.)

It's a great time in the garden!  (Or . . . at least it WOULD be . . . if the weather would settle down just a bit.)  What's blooming in your garden today?