Hyacinth Blue Pearl, first flush of flowers
For Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, the 15th of each month, check out my forced hyacinths. It is easy to force hyacinths to bloom early indoors, just pop bulb into paper bag, put in fridge in the fall, weeks later, take bulb out and plant in soil or water. Last year, on November 13 I put three Blue Pearls in a brown paper lunch bag and put them in the fridge. I wrote a note to pull them out in 10 weeks but really forgot about them and pulled them out after 11 weeks on February 2. I put mine in my three forcing vases, which are pinched vases that allow the bulbs to sit above the water. I have these forcing vases for so many years I don’t know where they came from but you can buy them at large independent garden centers, through online garden supply stores, or sometimes as a boxed combo of bulb and vase. It is not necessary to use these; you can place the bulb on a layer of pebbles or marbles in a wide-mouthed jar, such as a jam or Mason jar; or you can put them in a container of soil.
Hyacinth Blue Pearl in forcing vases
My Blue Pearls sat in a sunny windowsill in the office and on February 24, within 3 weeks, they were in full bloom — one month before they would have bloomed if they been out in the garden. Colleagues admired the beautiful flowers in my office and could not help commenting on the strong perfume. Three bulbs create such a sweet fragrance they are almost pungent. I cut the flowers and gave each one to a friend, as a cut flower in a vase. My bulbs continued to send up flower stalks for a second flush of flowers in the beginning of March. I cut those and now have a third flush of flowers. These are not as full and large as the first flush but that is okay because the scent is not as strong either. Next time, maybe one hyacinth in the office will suffice.
Hyacinth Blue Pearl, second flush of flowers
Try buying hyacinth bulbs in the fall to force them to bloom early inside. Compared to other bulbs, hyacinth bulbs are cheap, less than two dollars for high quality, individual bulbs or six or seven dollars for a package of three. From my bulbs, I got three flushes of flowers over a month’s time plus I will be able to plant them in my garden in April for flowers next spring. Hyacinths are very reliable here in Virginia; squirrels and deer do not bother them and they continue to flower year after year. Have you forced hyacinths before and if so, which type?
For Garden Bloggers Bloom Day I took photos of Camellia ‘Winter’s Beauty’, flowering now in mid December, in Northern Virginia. Traditionally, camellias are thought of as a southern shrub, not at all tolerant of our USDA Zone 7, Virginia winters. However, the late Dr. William L. Ackerman developed a variety of cultivars that are hardy to USDA Zone 6 while he worked at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. This particular camellia is ‘Winter’s Beauty’, part of the winter blooming Winter series of cold hardy camellias. Although these photos were taken in mid December at Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, VA, these camellias can bloom earlier in November or later in January. Camellias are broadleaf evergreen shrubs preferring moist, well-drained, acidic soil, and partial shade. This one can grow to about 7 to 12 feet high and 4 to 7 feet wide.
Yellow and white zinnias are blooming for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, October 15. This particular type, Zinnia linearis, produces many daisy shaped flowers about an inch wide on a foot tall, bushy plant. I grew these from one-year-old seed – I just scattered the seed into the bed in the summer and have been rewarded with flowers ever since in my Zone 7 Virginia garden. Zinnias are annuals that attract the garden friendlies such as butterflies and can be cut for flower arrangements. Best of all, Zinnia linearis is not prone to powdery mildew (which is rampant on my more well-known Zinnia elegans). Sometimes, you will find this species sold as Zinnia angustifolia or narrow leaved zinnia. Try this type of zinnia for abundant flowers and no leaf diseases!
For Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, September 2014, I am posting photos of my obedient plants blooming in my Virginia garden (Physostegia virginiana). I actually think of Thomas Jefferson when my obedient plants bloom in the fall. He grew these Native American perennials at Monticello which I learned when a friend pulled a clump from her garden for me to plant in my garden. In four years, the original plant has thrived and spread via rhizomes (underground stems) but only a few feet in the same garden bed. Not too much but just enough to provide extra plants to share and abundant flowers to cut for the office while leaving enough in the garden for color. My plants are in a garden strip that is partially under a crab apple tree and partially in full sun, both seem to be fine for this drought resistant, deer-resistant perennial.
The flowers, similar to snapdragons, attract butterflies and hummingbirds. If you twist the individual flowers back and forth, they stay in the new position for some time, hence the name “obedient.” Ever the scientist, I tried this and it worked but you have to wonder, how did the first person discover this and what was he or she doing fiddling with the flowers?
Still, I like obedient plant, its tall structure provide a wash of pink in the fall, when you least expect it. The flower stalks are great for cutting and putting in vases at the office, along with purple asters. I prefer the pink flowering variety, but there are obedient plants with white flowers (‘Alba’) and even green and white variegated leaves (‘Variegata’). If you read about obedient plants, you may notice the caveat about spreading but in my garden it is not invasive at all. In the spring, the emerging stems are easy to identify, they are square (a mint family characteristics) and green with chocolate brown, vertical strips. Being shallow-rooted, I can easily pull unwanted plants if I have to but could just as easily share with my gardening club. If unwanted growth is a concern, try ‘Miss Manners’ (white flowers) or ‘Pink Manners’ (pink flowers), both of which are known to maintain a clumping habit.
Serendipitous snapdragons snap color in a Virginia garden for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, the 15th of every month.