Tag Archives: Winter

Roses In January

Roses blooming in January are a rare site for zone 6 gardeners. I had to go to hardiness zone 10, warm and sunny Orlando, to smell these yellow roses. And yes, I not only took their picture, but really did stop to smell the roses’ light fragrance.
Yellow roses were my fathers favorite and I think they are my favorites too. That may be the reason yellow varieties tend to find their way to my garden.

Roses in EPCOT, Jan 2009

Rose petals have been found in fossils millions of years old. Hybridization has added disease tolerance and winter hardiness to the ancient rose.
I love the color variation of this rose which is about 4 inches across in full bloom. The buds start out a bold sunny yellow. As the bloom opens the color lightens to a soft pale lemon color.
Roses do well through out most of the country. Some are more cold tolerant, or can take the heat or maybe even a little shade if they have mostly Sunshine, Water, Good Drainage, Regular Pest and Disease Control, Fertilizer and Dormant Season Pruning.
You can find a suitable variety for your zone 4 to 10.

Prune to remove dead, diseased, and damaged canes in early to mid-March just before growth starts.
Find more Rose information at American Rose Society .

Click for the U. S. Department of Agriculture Cold Hardiness Zones

Zoning out in Florida

Hibiscus Hedge
Cabin fever drove me to zone 10.

Orlando, Florida to be exact. Even when the zone 10 natives think it is cold, 56 degrees, zone 6 tourists have yet to break out jackets. What they take for granted – blooming trees and shrubs in January – make zone 5 or 6 Midwesterners giddy .

This beautiful woody shrub is grown as a hedge in warmer temperatures. In zone 6, hibiscus make a showy addition to my patio. The bright yellows and reds bloom until frost if I keep the shrubs well watered.

Sometimes called rosemallow, the big beautiful blooms of hibiscus are similar to okra and cotton flowers, all members of the same Malvaceae, (mallow) family.

Hibiscus is also a primary ingredient in many herb teas. The flowers are used to make a beautiful clear red tea that tastes a bit like cranberries. Vitamin C rich hibiscus tea is shown to lower blood pressure Drinking three cups of hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
photos by Patsy Bell Hobson

Hibiscus enthusiasts can learn more about these beautiful flowers at American Hibiscus Society.
AHA has a great link to Hibiscus 101. Worth checking out, if you want to grow your own.

Chrismas Lights save Spring Display

This story is straight from the pages of a favorite newsletter.

Old Bulbs Gazette, Dec 2008

I order a lot of bulbs from http:Old House Gardens because their bulbs are sturdy historic and proven rebloomers.

I am patiently waiting for these late bloomers, Twin Sisters, to bloom in my Southeast Missouri Garden. My pre lit Christmas tree leaves me with plenty of bulb-warming Christmas tree light at the ready.

N. x medioluteus, TWIN SISTERS, 1597

Don’t Pack Up Those Xmas Lights: Extreme Gardening in Minnesota
Last winter when we wrote that hardy bulbs are rarely bothered by mid-winter thaws, our good customer Bonnie Dean of Minnesota offered a different perspective:
“I live in Minneapolis. Occasionally we get a week of spring-like weather in February, once as high as 76 degrees. The bulbs are fooled — up they come! By the time the shoots are about 3 inches high, the usual teens to twenties temperatures come back and stay for weeks. In those situations, the plants do die. Or they end up blighted and stunted, taking years to recover, if at all.
“But I found a way to circumvent this. Each year when I pack away the Christmas decorations, I make sure a few strings of the small lights are kept accessible. Then, when a prolonged mid-winter thaw is followed by even more hard, hard cold, I get out the lights. I plug them into the outside outlet and string them along the ground, around and between but not touching the emerging daffodils and tulips. (I am careful to remove dead leaves on the ground so there is nothing flammable near the lights.)
“Then, using old pizza boxes or whatever cardboard I have on hand, I make long low ‘tents’ over the plants and lights. Over that, to keep out the wind and keep in the warmth, I put old blankets, worn out bathroom rugs, frayed towels, whatever — even old painting tarps. I keep the lights plugged in until the temperature approaches 32 degrees more consistently, as long as it takes.
“The little bit of warmth from the bulbs keeps the soil just warm enough to keep the tender shoots alive. So, instead of shriveling in the hard winter, the shoots hold their own and even grow a bit. As a result, I have the most showy, prolific and early daffodils in the neighborhood. Some years, I have had the ONLY daffodils in the neighborhood!
“Please share this idea with your readers. Here in Minnesota, even hardy bulbs can lose their zip when the weather fluctuates as much as it does these days.”

Frost Flowers

Frost Flowers

frost flower photos by Bill Roussel

Neighbor Bill is a hunter and he’s outdoors in the early morning, so he sees frost flowers in the fall. Because I did not believe him, he took photos to prove that frost flowers really exist. He’s pulled my leg before.

I have always had the good sense NOT to be wondering around in the woods at the crack of dawn during deer season. But, Neighbor Bill is out there every year armed with a camera and a gun. Most years, he has better luck with the camera.

When he showed me his Frost flower photos, I headed to the Missouri department of Conservation (MDOC)
to find out about this beautiful natural phenomenon seen only by early risers.

These delicate ice flowers or frost flowers only occur when freezing weather happens before the ground is is frozen for the winter. Long thin cracks form along the stem of plants as the sap freezes and expands. The moisture is drawn through the cracks on the plant stems by capillary action and freezes when the sap oozes out into the air. As more sap is drawn from the stem, these thin layers of ice keep pushing out, forming thin “petals”. The thin frost flowers will shatter if touched and disappear as the sun rises.

The water can’t travel up the stems once the ground is frozen, so these beautiful works of nature are seen only in fall. Late blooming native Missouri wildflowers like yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia) and white crownbeard (Verbesina virginica), are good candidates for frost flowers. White crownbeard is sometimes called frost beard.

Neighbor Bill is quite a hunter as well as an exellent photographer. He managed to photgraph the last “flowers” of the season while I sure not a bloom had survived last nights hard freeze.

Yellow ironweed, also called wingstem, is a wildflower attractive to birds and butterflies.
photo from http://www.dnr.mo.gov/greenbldg/wildflowers/yellow-ironweed.htm Missouri Department of Natural Resources

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