Winter Whack

With a hard freeze this past weekend, the garden staff are still in the midst of the annual winter whack. Even with the frigid temps, there are still flowers to be seen. Along with the cool season annuals, some blooms come as a bit of a surprise, some not. The inconspicuous flowers of our Weeping Desert Olive (Forestiera angustifolia ‘Weeping’) made me stop in my tracks. From a distance they don’t look like much, but up close you can see the many clusters of greeny-yellow petal-less flowers covering the pendulous branches and giving the shrub a fuzzy pale yellow halo. The Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata) planted by our former Executive Director is blooming happily next to the Administration building. Its lavender-pink blooms are a bright and cheerful splash of color at this time of year. Some Camellias are early bloomers (or late, depending on where you are) and we have a few currently in bloom: the deep pink Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishi Gashira’ was being visited by a thirsty wasp this morning and the soft pink double blooms of Camellia x ‘High Fragrance’ are not only fragrant, they provide another food source for hungry bees lured out when it gets warm. But perhaps the truest herald of spring is the Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), a late winter / early spring bulb with delicate bell-shaped flowers sporting a tiny green dot at the tip of each petal. When you start to see Snowflakes in the garden, you know spring isn’t far off. If the cold weather had you down, bundle up and come by the gardens to enjoy these and many more flowers sure to brighten any dull winter day!