Winter whites…

Like a full moon on a dark night, these late winter whites light up my drowsy garden just as it starts to emerge from its winter nap…

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My Camellia japonica ‘Swan Lake’ has fewer blooms than previous years, possibly due to limited water, but this one is perfect!

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Chrysanthemum hosmariense, locally called Moroccan daisy, blooms over a long period with its most profuse flowering January through March.  Even though the warm weather slows the show down its fine, gray-green foliage makes a nice mound year round. Consistently pinching back the spent blossoms will give you a tidier look and keep the new flowers coming. I have mounds of this perennial in several locations with varying sun and moisture conditions and it has proven very adaptable.

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Hard to believe this is a winter bloomer for me! I have several mature colonies of common calla lilies, Zantedeschia aethiopica, but only a single clump that reliably blooms for me in winter. The others all look pretty bad by late fall and take a long winter’s rest before returning in the mid spring. I think the cultivar is ‘Hercules’ and, if so, it lives up to its name–the bright golden central spike is almost 4 inches in length. The tiny true flowers of the calla lily cover the spike, whose botanical name is the spadix. The creamy white which we think of as the flower is actually a spathe, a curved leaf modification.

I could not showcase winter whites without my favorite hellebores. As these were pass along plants many years ago from a gardening friend I can only say that I think they are H. orientalis. I grow  more than a dozen large clumps of these, all seedlings of the original plant, and I take care to keep them quite separate from my other hellebores to have the best chance of new seedlings retaining the clear white of the parent. The blooms hold up well as cut flowers and the glossy, dark green and leathery foliage is a great addition to a mixed bed or a mixed bouquet in the summer months.

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