Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bloom Day - January 2020

This January's Bloom Day post is a bit lighter on flowers than those in the two prior years, although my garden's usual workhorses are mostly present and accounted for.  I generally attribute year-to-year floral fluctuations to rain, or the lack of it, but comparisons of 2020, 2019 and 2018 bring that rationale into question.  Rain levels were higher in 2019 but much lower in 2018 yet my January posts for those years are comparable.  This year I expect that my preoccupation with the late stages of our remodel during the last quarter of 2019, which dramatically reduced the time I spent in the garden, is largely responsible for the differences.  Fall is usually my peak planting season but I did precious little of that in the last few months.  Still, there's no shortage of flowers to share this month, at least by comparison to those of you who garden in colder winter climates.

I'll start with the biggest surprises.

This is Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'.  I featured it in last month's post too.  It's supposed to bloom in spring and summer but here it is in the dead of winter brightening the south end of my garden.

Crocus don't do well here.  At best they bloom the first year and then disappear.  I stopped planting them years ago.  However, when I got a handful of the bulbs as a gift with purchase 3 years ago, I went ahead and stuck them in the ground.  This is now the third year they've made an appearance.

I showed the first sign of a bloom spike on this hybrid Aloe ferox x vanbalenii last month.  It's now in full bloom for the first time since I acquired the plant in 2016.


As was the case in prior years, the Grevilleas and Leucadendrons are putting on a good show.

The large-flowered Grevilleas like 'Ned Kelly' bloom year-round here but the small-flowered varieties are now joining in the parade.  Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', G. rosmarinifolia, G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, G. 'Peaches & Cream', and G. 'Superb'.

A variety of Leucadenrons produce flower-like bracts during the winter months.  Clockwise from the upper left: Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', a close-up of the same plant, L. salignum 'Summer Red', L. 'Safari Sunset', and L. salignum 'Chief'.


Many of last month's bloomers are still going strong.

Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid) has been blooming steadily since October

The noID Camellia sasanquas shown in the first 2 photos have now been joined by the hybrid Camellia williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection'

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) 'Zombie' is finishing up its run but I'm hoping that 'Moon Scene' and 'Giant Amadeus' may show up within the next month of so


The plants that flower year-round or nearly so are making their contribution.

Arbutus 'Marina' blooms almost non-stop but the trees are usually relatively bare of flowers in January because I generally have them pruned in late fall.  Pruning was postponed while we finished up our remodel so the trees are heavily laden with flowers at the moment.

The Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' shrubs in the front garden are blooming, although those in the back garden are not.  Who knows why.  The tiny flowers look white from a distance but they're actually a very pale pink. 

Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' only stops blooming when I cut the shrub down to one foot in height


I've added a few plants in the past month but only one of those is already adding a punch of color.

Brachyscome angustifolia 'Brasco Violet' (aka Swan River Daisy) is a drought tolerant Australian native.  Sold as an annual, it's a short-lived perennial here.


Other flowers are present in smaller numbers.  As usual, I've packaged them in collages organized by color.

Top row: Campanula poscharskyana, trailing Lantana, and Lavandula multifida
Bottom row: Polygala fruticosa, Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust', and noID Viola

Top row: Dermatobotrys saundersii, Euryops chrysanthemoides, and self-seeded Gazania
Bottom row: Phylica pubescens, Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', and Tagetes lemmoniii

Top row: Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre', Cuphea x ignea 'Starfire Pink', and assorted Cyclamen
Middle row: Eustoma grandiflorum, Osteospermum 'Berry White', and noID Pelargonium x hortorum
Bottom row: Pelargonium peltatum, Penstemon mexicali 'Mini-bells Red', and Rosa chinense 'Mutabilis'

Top row: Antirrhinum majus, Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest', and Digitalis purpurea
Middle row: Lantana 'Lucky White', Nemesia 'Snow Angel', and Osteospermum '4D Silver'
Bottom row: Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', Pyrethropsis hosmariense, and Lobularia maritima


What's most obviously missing from the current line-up are the blooms of Aeonium arboreum.  I use this succulent as a filler throughout my garden and the flowers generally arrive on schedule with no help at all from me.  This January there are plenty of bloom spikes but no actual flowers as yet.  The Aeoniums, along with several other common January bloomers, are taking their time making an appearance in 2020 but they're on their way.

Clockwise from the upper left, coming attractions include: Aeonium arboreum, Calliandra haematocephala (first bloom!), buds on Echium handiense, tiny buds of Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', naval and Mandarin oranges (not quite ripe yet!) and, in the middle, the first flowers of my noID paperwhite Narcissus


That's a wrap!  Visit Carol, the host of Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, at May Dreams Gardens to discover what's happening in other gardens.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

28 comments:

  1. Wow - that's way more blooms than I'm seeing in my yard the moment. Leucadenrons and of course the Aloe are my favorites. Perhaps because I'm a few hundred miles north of your location (?) - my Aloe blooms are only just starting to open.

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    1. We are probably a bit warmer than you are, Hans. Drier too.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your SoCal delights, Kris. Always uplifting to see!

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    1. Gardening here is truly a year-round experience, Eliza.

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  3. Such color at this time of year. Love it. You must have found the perfect spot for the crocus.

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    1. The crocus are in a relatively dry area, Lisa - there are agaves only feet away! I wish I'd recorded the crocus species/cultivar so I could plant more.

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  4. It must be so much fun to go to your garden centers to shop year round. In the fall here, it's mums and asters, and then nothing again until April. It's been a very warm winter so far with tons of rain, but it's still a "hanging on" process until spring arrives. Until then - I'll just enjoy your color.

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    1. You put things in perspective for me, Cindy. I stopped by my local garden center just today and was frustrated because I couldn't find the 2 varieties of "African daisies" I've been looking for. I'm impatient for spring too, even if I'm more unreasonable about it.

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  5. Such beauty in SoCal--at any time of year, but I especially crave it in January and February. My favorites in this post would have to be the Camellias (yum), with the Leucadendrons a close second. They both are so very special, and I can't grow them here. :(

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    1. I love Camellias but I'm hesitant to plant any more here because they need water to become properly established, Beth. I planted 'Taylor's Perfection' within 2 months of moving in (pre-drought) and inherited the Camellia sasanquas but I haven't added any more. I had more in my former tiny garden than I have here.

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  6. That Metrosideros is just fabulous, as is the Calliandra. I guess I like flowers that look like old shaving brushes - LOL! As always in winter, you put us all to shame. I only have a few things to show, and haven't even posted my GBBD post yet.

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    1. I'm pretty happy with the Metrosideros, even though it had a near-death experience during a heatwave several a year and a half ago. I'd plant another one if I could find a place for it.

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  7. Outstanding variety, as usual!

    It seems like it's been colder at night this winter--maybe that encouraged many plants to slow down somewhat. Seems like less flowers here as well.

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    1. Yes, it's felt colder here too and, even though we haven't had any rain other than a little spit since December 26th, the soil has stayed relatively cool and damp.

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  8. Kris,your gardening post are treat for every flower lover,always loved the appearance of Grevilleas,Leucadendrons in your post since they are not available in my region.I am becoming fan of presence of your flower collages at the end of post,even I am getting inspired to make some in my next month post probably.Happy blogger blooms day.

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    1. Thanks Arun. The collages are a nice way to feature photos that might otherwise end up on the cutting room floor.

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  9. What a wonderful selection of flowers, I can tell from your plants that you are a lot warmer and drier than we are in the UK, we enjoy very different plants!

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    1. While it feels cold to us at the moment, yes, I imagine you get much lower temperatures in the winter than we do, Pauline. Freezes are a rare occurrence here - my current garden hasn't had one in the 9 years we've lived here. And, unfortunately, we're also very dry, although winter is our rainy season.

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  10. Wow--you have so many beauties abloom! I guess it's all that good California sunshine. Do you tend to water during winter?

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    1. I usually water if we go more than 7-10 days without rain, Tina, especially if the Santa Ana winds dry things up. I've got 3 rain tanks but that only lasts so long. I need a cistern but there's no place to put one.

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  11. Your Aloe ferox x vanbalenii is simply perfection.

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    1. I was pretty excited to finally have a "real" (i.e. not tiny) aloe in bloom. I've got another vanbalenii hybrid out elsewhere in my garden - I hope it also realizes its potential.

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  12. Lighter on flowers? You garden looks like mid-spring! Seriously, so much beauty. We're MUCH farther behind here in the Sacramento Valley.

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    1. Ha! I hope there are many more flowers by spring but then I admit to being a flower addict.

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  13. Gorgeous! Like Hoover Boo, I'm thinking the cooler temperatures this year might explain why your flowers are later - the same is true up here in the desert. And while the rest of the country laughs at our definition of cold, it has been chillier than normal!

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  14. To my New England eyes, this is a dizzying array of January blooms, including out-of-season surprises. I always enjoy visiting your garden to see plants I've never even heard of before, like the lovely Metrosideros collina.

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    1. I was so pleased when that Metrosideros survived our horrific heatwave a couple of years ago and lived to bloom again!

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