As the winter cold seems to be relentless here in upper Montgomery County, Maryland, it is exciting to go out into the garden each morning to see some new flowers coming into bloom. This adds some nice color to the chilly gray days that we are experiencing. Colorful flowers can be found on each plane of the landscape – from small trees/shrubs, to perennials, to emerging bulbs. Here is a sampling.
Witchhazel hybrids. Hamemelis x intermedia. One of the more vivid cultivars – ‘Jelena’, for some reason, has come in more red than copper in hue this year, but this allows it to really pop in the dull winter landscape. This close-up photo highlights the interesting form of the bloom, which is reminiscent of crepe-paper or a spider. This large shrub or small tree has outstanding four-season interest in the landscape, including vivid fall leaf color, and warm-hued flowers in yellow, copper, or red hues to add some fire to the dull winter landscape.
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose). This wonderful evergreen perennial, which tolerates shade and is reliably deer-resistant, is blooming a bit late this winter. This perennial spreads over time to fill in nicely through the landscape. Shown here (below left) is a close-up photo to show how lovely a single inflorescence looks in the winter landscape (though there are many flowers ready on pop on the same plant).
Dwarf Iris. Sure, there are many early winter bulbs around the landscape, including several daffodil varieties, and snowdrops. More unusual specimens truly make the landscape pop. Here is the first dwarf iris starting to emerge. This one is Iris reticulata ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, sporting unique powder blue and yellow petals with interesting ink-colored markings. Each flower is a work of art. These short flowering bulbs are nicely placed near the front entrance to be seen close-up as you walk by.
Erica x darleyensis (Heath) is one of my favorite mounding evergreen ‘subshrubs’ for a sunny spot. Most think it is ‘heather’, which is not as heat tolerant in this area. Erica is a great evergreen groundcover – a small rounded shrub that holds its own through the year – sporting nice short dark green needle-like foliage that is covered with bell-shaped pendulous flowers in mauve or white from early winter (sometimes as early as October) through May. While I love the display of color during snow in winter (photo on the right). The photo on the left shows a close-up of the very-summery hued blossoms gracing the landscape in February.
Crocuses – their appearance is a tease that spring is sure to arrive – someday, relatively soon. This group of crocuses has been in bud for some time, and is just waiting for a tad more warm-up to burst forth in bloom.
Photos by Connie J. Bowers