My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Flowers

One of my gripes about gardening in the south is that I can't grow tomatoes and lettuce at the same time or have fresh dill in the summer. I can, however, have it with fresh broccoli in the winter.

But the really excellent part of gardening down here,  is that we can have something blooming every month of the year. Right now calendulas, some roses,  camillas, panseys, violas, fragrant stocks, dianthas, petunias, snapdragons, and cyclamens, all brighten our often cloudy days.

One of several colors of stocks being tested

Violas with dog faces
Earlier,  Maria took me over to the camellia garden at the LSU Research Station in Hammond. I wanted to go back to photograph the beautiful camellias blooming on huge, old bushes. So the morning after a front had come through giving us high winds and rain, and while it was still cloudy, I spent several hours at the Research Station.  Within moments, I was totally engrossed. There are over 100 shrubs in this garden and include camellias that bloom from fall to spring. Many bushes were days to weeks away from starting to bloom, while others had only a few blooms amidst the numerous buds. Still others were in full bloom or were already scattering the blossoms on the ground. (Camillias often drop the entire flower and I found many laying on the ground,  still looking fresh enough to take home.) It was too cold for bees to be working, but on my earlier visit, lots of bees  were harvesting nectar and honey and a few butterflies were helping them.

This looked pretty fresh but had already fallen

 Across the street, is the main part of the research station.  It is a vast field with islands of beds.  I ran out of time before I explored it all.  Must of the plants are in a dormant state but the azaleas were starting to bloom and some beds held bedding plants that were being tested.  I heard they have a demonstration native plant garden but didn't have time to locate it. I just walked through the several acres of azalea beds. The azaleas were mostly growing their buds.  They will be at peak bloom in February -March. But a few varieties were blooming.

The research plants are planted in a landscape situation and there are benches and this gazebo near a large, kidney-shaped pond.

Closeup of some of the  blooming double azeleas

I like the singles best

Another variety of azalea

A single fruit tree bloom, probably due to temperatures in the 70-80s
The research station property has some pines scattered around, several huge live oaks, and other hardwoods. This southern magnolia must be close to champion size. It is growing in full sunlight so has been able to grow branches from the ground up.
A southern magnolia, growing in full sun - almost champion size

A view across some of the beds to the pine trees along the road