Sunday, February 12, 2017

February Report

The sunroom has been sunny a few days recently, which has been lovely. I installed a new shelf on the wall at right, on which my orchids are now growing.

Greetings from winter in Iowa! It has been a strangely warm, overcast winter this year -- after several very cold nights (nearly -15°F) in December, we've hardly gotten colder than 20° at night and days in the 30s, which is very strange for what is usually a much colder time of year in this part of the country. And this past week we've had several days in the upper 50s. Those have been very enjoyable.

But with the comparative warmth has come, of course, cloudy skies, which has been unfortunate from the standpoint of spending time lolling in the sunshine in my sunroom. Perhaps only one or two days each week were sunny during most of January. But that did mean that I got a lot more work done on my book I'm writing about historic Iowa gardens -- I would really like to finish that project this year. 

At any rate, I have been able to enjoy a few days among my plants. Other than dealing with a fungal problem on my orange tree (which involved spraying a copper fungicide and trying not to breathe it or get any on my skin), puttering among my many plants has been quite enjoyable over winter. Here are a few scenes:

My sweet peas are gaining height.

I potted on my stocks (Matthiola) seedlings into a window seed starting tray.

I know many people cannot stand the scent of paperwhite narcissus, but I like them, and they
have made my sunroom smell very nice. The jasmine plant at left also has been blooming
with wonderfully scented flowers.

I used the gift certificate my husband gave me for Christmas from Logee's, and the weather was miraculously warm enough for several days for them to ship my order of tropical plants! Here are some of them potted up: Clerodendrum (Chains of Glory), Jasminum polyanthum (Winter Jasmine), Murraya paniculata (Orange Jasmine), Plumeria obtusa 'Dwarf Singapore Pink', Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu" (Sweet Olive -- which already has wonderfully scented tiny flowers), and a 'True Rose' Pelargonium. I can't wait for them to grow and flower!

My kitchen window, with the many brightly colored primroses that I found at Aldi for $0.99 each last month. They're still blooming their cute little faces off after several weeks! Have I mentioned how much I love Aldi?

I never knew that Sansevieria bloomed. The tiny flowers, to my surprise, were strongly
scented and smelled wonderful. I found this plant almost ready to bloom at (where else) Aldi, 
and bought one even though I always thought Sansevrieia were such a boring plant that I never 
intended to buy one. (Except for the 'African Spear' cylindrical kind, which is pretty cool.)

So that's it for inside. Usually at this time of year there's not much to say about outside, but it's been so warm that I walked around last weekend and took a few photos:

My east patio area, which I'm planning to redesign the planting of this spring.

I know my patio area doesn't look like much right now, but I've been planning to re-do it this spring, to make a Scented Garden. I'll move the plants that are currently here to other beds and plant only plants with nicely scented flowers or leaves: a couple of new highly scented roses, and a number of annuals from seeds that I have ordered. I'll also add several shrubs such as an extra mock orange that I have elsewhere, a small reblooming lilac and some peonies I need to move. Plus some tender bulbs for summer. And in fall I'll add some scented bulbs for spring. I've been reading a number of books about scented plants this winter to research what I will plant.

Here's the area last June. 

I'll move most of the rose bushes that are in the above photo to the beds in front of my sunroom, and move the other things to other beds that need more plants. (The hollyhocks in the photo above are completely self-seeded biennials, and I'll move any that spring up to other beds too.)

Along the east side of my house, the daffodils are already up.

As I walked around last weekend, I noticed that the daffodils next to the east side of my house are already up, and look like they've been up for several weeks already. This is unusually early.

But it's OK with me if spring holds off for another six weeks. I still have lots of work to do on my book before spring arrives, when I will need to spend all my time outside working nearly every day. My plant-filled sunroom has made winter so much more bearable -- even if I haven't been able to enjoy so many sunny days in it as I might have wished. But this next week's forecast calls for mostly sunny days, so I might not get much done....  :-)

Hope your winter is progressing well and that you are enjoying making plans for your own gardens this spring. Thanks for reading! -Beth