Midwinter flowers

Yes, I know that in the United States the winter solstice is considered the first day of winter, but you can’t convince me that the shortest, darkest day of the year isn’t midwinter. My garden, which today sat under low grey clouds, is at its lowest ebb, but in my greenhouse there are at least a few flowers to brighten the gloom. Here are three:

Paphiopedilum gratrixianum

Paph_gratrixianum

P. gratrixianum is one of the plain-leaf slipper orchid species that have glossy, rather elegant flowers, one per inflorescence. It is closely related to P. villosum (Photo 6 here) which is also flowering this week.

Sinningia bullata

Sinningia_bullata1

S. bullata was described in 2010 from material collected in Santa Catarina, Brazil, surprisingly recent for such a striking plant. Its species name refers to the bullate (blistered) foliage, but the bright flowers are what draw the eye at this time of year. Unlike many Sinningia species which require a dry winter dormancy, S. bullata seems to grow year-round. New stems sprout from the tuber almost immediately after the old ones die back, and even when not in flower the plant is attractive for its neat foliage with an attractive texture up top and soft woolly indumentum underneath.

Sinningia_bullata2

Columnea microcalyx (syn. C. gloriosa)

Columnea_microcalyx2

Like S. bullata, C. microcalyx is a member of the Gesneriaceae, the african violet family. This species is an epiphyte from Central America, and its long, trailing stems are best managed in a hanging basket. My plant, started from a cutting about 18 months ago, is covered in buds and will probably look spectacular in about 4-6 weeks, but I couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of the first flowers to open. This species is usually labeled C. gloriosa in cultivation, but Kew considers that name to be a later synonym.

Columnea_microcalyx3Columnea_microcalyx1

Six on Saturday #68 (December 4, 2021)

It has been almost six months, more than a full season of change, since my last Six on Saturday post! Our first freeze was on November 14, so despite the fact that it is 70 F (21 C) outside this afternoon, the garden is in its winter form.

1-5. memento mori and the promise of rebirth

Magnolia-macrophylla_autumn

Fallen leaves of Magnolia macrophylla (bigleaf magnolia). The oak leaf at center gives a sense of scale.

Musa-velutina_freeze

The stems and fruit of Musa velutina (pink banana) do not tolerate any frost, but the rhizomes will sleep peacefully under the soil until next year.

Vernonia_seeds

The fluffy seed heads of Vernonia glauca (broadleaf ironweed; see picture #3 here) are why this plant is close to becoming a weed in my garden..

Iris-domestica_seeds

At this time of year, it’s easy to see why Iris domestica has the common name “blackberry lily”. See #6 here for flowers.

Allium-tuberosum seeds

Allium tuberosum (garlic chives) is ready to take over the vegetable garden.

6. Winter greens in the vegetable bins

winter-greens

Not everything in the garden is dead.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday. Head over there to see his Six for this week and find links to the blogs of other participants.