Project Bloom for February, 2011

A Scarlet Waxycap (Hygrocybe punicea)

As I dive into my monthly Project Bloom post, I’m feeling a little guilty, which is not an emotion that much bothers me during an Oregon winter – our usual wet, sunless, gloom tends to keep guilt under wraps quite effectively.  But for whatever reason -maybe La Nina, maybe global warming- we’ve not had a usual winter here.  Instead of the normal constant rainy, cloudy, and frequently frosty conditions, we’ve been experiencing a long period of sun and strangely dry and warm weather.  The ‘guilt’ comes from the fact that the rest of the country has been having one of the worst winters in record, and as we speak, a huge storm is working its way across the mid-west dropping record amounts of snow in places that already have had more snow than usual – Very weird!

But don’t worry for me, friends – I’ve spent my life practicing how to most effectively shed guilt, and frankly, I’m quite good at it by now.  No, I’ve shifted my concern to those plants and trees that are the subject of my monthly Project Bloom, primarily because an abnormal winter experienced by those plants and trees will cause them serious problems,  In the world of nature, a miserably cold and wet winter is absolutely needed by the native plants and trees of this region – and anything that interrupts  the expectations of those plants and trees will affect their health in the next season.

And so it was with much interest and anticipation that I ventured forth with my little camera (if this project is teaching me anything -and it certainly is- it is teaching me how to better use this camera!  Yeah, there’s still a lot to learn!) to capture nature’s seasonal changes for yet another month.  At the inception of this little project, back in late fall, I was sure that by this time in the winter, I’d find very little in the way of blooms, or even any growth activity of any kind.  However, that was not the case, as we shall soon see – was this the result of our abnormal seasonal weather?  Or maybe I just never looked before – maybe it’s always this way at this time of year.

Well, whatever – let’s get started on our monthly adventure.

A Most Courageous English Daisy

I found this single little flower growing close to the ground, and most difficult to photograph – it is what we call an English Daisy, and in these parts is considered to be a lawn pest – but I’ve always thought them rather cheerful – especially in the dead of winter.

Now if we were using a strict definition of ‘flowers’ only, we would have scant few blooms to show this month, but of course I’m bending our rules to include buds and emerging growth as well – and since what I find is occurring in our ‘dead of winter’, it is significant to our project purposes – and thus, we can and should include the following.

A Thundercloud Ornamental Plum Flower Bud

Of all our deciduous trees, this Thundercloud Ornamental Plum is always the first to bloom – and this is the first evidence I’ve seen it’s ready again.  I don’t remember it being quite this early before, but then, I never kept notes, and my memory ain’t good either.

These are from the same tree, but these are ‘leaf buds’, not blossoms – the leaves are purple and the blossoms open as pink flowers – quite striking together!

Pretty Rosemary Blossoms

Almost no other rosemary bush had blooms on them -only this one- and weirdly, these are two almost perfect blooms sitting right next to each other – Why? – One of nature’s strange secrets.

Evergreen Huckleberry

This is my all time favorite yard plant – and it’s a native.  Unlike many native plants, this one is a true beauty, and its blooms and berries are a bonus.  I have several others growing as well, but this is the only one I’ve ever seen with winter blooms on it – even including the ones growing out in the woods!  I just last week went out into the woods and dug up 20 new baby ones, and placed them in the shady same area as this one.  They are beautiful but difficult to transplant – seems like every year I’m trying, and to date I have only three successful takes – my fingers are crossed.

Calendula

As I walked past the Calendula, I glanced at the plants and thought, ‘Gosh, those plants look more lush than they did last month – they must think it’s spring already.’  But I didn’t see any blooms – and then, just as I was about to walk away, I saw it, … one single and slightly scraggly bud, getting ready to spring forth at the slightest encouragement.  This is one hearty plant!  And here’s another:

A Single Brave Dianthus Bud

Do you remember this hanging-potted Dianthus?  Even though it’s listed as an annual for my region, it seems intent on gaining status as a perennial.  These are also known as Pinks or Sweet William, and I do remember how those in my garden forcefully burst back to life in the spring – and I think these babies are about to do just that!

Let’s look at some more swelling buds – I don’t know of any more encouraging sign for those of us with Cottage Fever than swelling buds.

Elderberry Bud

Asian Pear

Seckel Pear

Camellia - Humm ... Looks Just Like Last Month!

I’d love to have shown you some swelling apple, plum, and cherry buds, but sadly, none of them were swelling yet – I think they must wait until later in the spring – and maybe, for a fruit tree, that’s a wise thing to do – I fear for these above that winter shall soon return with a vengeance.

English Laurel

And these are the buds of the English Laurel, a huge hedgerow planting at the back of our yard – each spring, the aroma of the English Laurel flowers is one of the first clues that winter is losing its grip.  I know people who hate this shrub, and its smell too.  But I love everything about it.

Violet

A few years ago, someone gave me several violets  and I planted them in a difficult area -a dry but shady spot- it gets plenty of rain in the winter months, but each summer, whatever we have planted there have trouble unless we give them plenty of extra water – I think some of these violets are traumatized by the lack of summer moisture, and when the winter rains come, they respond as if it was spring!  Who knows?  Another of nature’s secrets.

Encore Fall Blooming Azalea

In this same ‘difficult’ area are our Encore Fall Blooming Azaleas – there are only a few blooms on this shrub, but they seem to be quite insistent on keeping a steady bloom cycle going.  It’ll be interesting to see if it blooms this spring and summer too.

Myrtlewood Blossoms

Also in this same area,  and providing the shade for all other plants growing here, are two myrtlewood trees – these are very interesting trees, related to the shrub that provides bay leaves for cooking – and both are members of the Laurel family – this tree is unique to Northern California and Southwestern Oregon, and one other place on earth – Israel.  The myrtle is famous as a tree of the bible.  These blooms are right on time!

Are Scarlet Waxy Caps Eatable? Maybe To a Slug.

I’ll end my Project Bloom adventure with this delightful find – and Yes, I consider a mushroom poking above ground as a ‘bloom’.  And this one is a particularly attractive one – I have some other mushrooms that come and go in my yard, but I wouldn’t bore you with those – but this is a cutie, isn’t it?  And it too appeared in the area under the myrtle trees – in the world of mushrooms, that means that scarlet waxy caps have an affinity, or relationship, with myrtle trees.  I can also tell you that they don’t last very long before they begin to deteriorate – I know this because just two days before I took these shots, I saw several more beautiful ones here, but alas, when I came back with the camera, they had disappeared into something that looked like this:

An Elderly Scarlet Waxy Cap

What has our monthly Project Bloom inventory revealed to us?  For one, I think it’s shown us the subtle clues of an emerging spring – even as a not-so-alert observer of seasonal changes in my region, I’ve been aware that an Oregon spring begins early and slowly, and continues slowly as well, until at last sometime in mid June, it at last begins to really feel like the effects of winter are finally done – and then, with rare exception, it’s sun every day until October rolls around again.  But, although we’ve just lived through what many call our ‘dormant’ season, obviously, nature knows knows no dormant season, for there is never a time when there isn’t something happening to each and every plant out there – even when they look dead, or are not even visible above ground.

Nature is our amazing partner in this life adventure – and regardless of the season, it invites us to come and see its beauty and its life cycles.  It’s great fun – hope you enjoyed.

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About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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15 Responses to Project Bloom for February, 2011

  1. Anet says:

    Those colors are so lovely to see.
    Tennessee’s harbinger of spring is when the birds sing out differently; I heard the cardinals and titmice warbling this last week.
    Like your area though, this winter is different — colder and more snow. I like the variety but I do wish for a little green or color about this time of year.
    I am, waiting patiently for the spring to come.

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Anet,
      Sounds like you too are having a little ‘cottage fever’ – don’t let it get to you, ’cause I have it on good authority that spring is not far off! Just a little bit longer.

  2. A glorious selection of photos – I’ve been looking out for buds and shoots too – but we haven’t had great light for photographs lately outdoors, been very grey and flat, so it is very cheering to see your bright and perky blooms. The daisy (or day’s eye) only opens when the sun is out. So ours are staying firmly closed up right now.

    Micro climates, that’s why you get one plant flowering in a group, something about its life is different, though what exactly can be hard to fathom. And you are right, it never really stops, even in the Arctic the plants are planning their next move for that moment of glory in the tundra when they flower…

    • drfugawe says:

      Hey, I only needed to take 200+ shots to get these! Ha. Really, I am getting to know this camera (Canon SD750) better – I’ve used ‘Macro’ for awhile now, but just discovered ‘Digital Macro’, and the focus lock thingy. Soon, I’ll only be taking 100 shots to get 10 decent ones!

      You are such a fount of knowledge; I didn’t know that about daisies – very interesting. And very strange weather here – sunny and warm, when our norm is very wet and cold – really, the plants need that nasty weather, otherwise we’ll have no fruit this summer.

  3. Tupper says:

    God-You’ve got flowers and we have snow. Super pics Doc, I’m very jealous (again)! Another 90 days and we’ll have dandelions!

    • drfugawe says:

      Well, it should make you feel better to know that this is not normal. Right now, it should be getting up to maybe 40-45 each day, and down to freezing at night – but today again it was up near 60, but very little sun!

      I’m worried about you guys – all that snow can’t be good for you.

  4. Doc, this little project of yours carries a bigger life lesson for all of us. Even in dark, gloomy times, there is always something to find, some sliver of hope and beauty, if we look hard enough. Thank you for all the lovely pics, particularly your gorgeous English daisy!

    • drfugawe says:

      Oh no! I think WordPress must be failing me – looks like I missed the posting of your comment early this month – I never want to let a comment go un-welcomed, so please forgive – and thanks for noticing the small beauty out of the gloom.

  5. very nice pictures, all of the plants are beautiful to see and should be preserved from extinction.

  6. Mary Smiley says:

    Hey Doc…my Golden Trumpet tree is finally opening buds…I can’t wait to see the whole thing in a glowing brilliant yellow soon! Thinks seem a little slow to go here but we keep getting those dreaded cold fronts that slip down here from the great white north! Spring is in the air though…happy for that. My black bamboo is shooting branches out like mad which is great because I was afraid it died after planting. It’s all good now….

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi Mary,
      Yeah, I’m jealous! I love Florida in the spring – will always remember the coming of the orange blossoms; can’t wait for it to start, and can’t wait for it to end! I also remember one Feb night when I manned some smudge pots in a plant nursery in Avon Park – temp got to 9 above! That’s the coldest I ever experienced.

      Enjoy it girl!

  7. heidi says:

    There is no sign of spring here. The sun reflecting in the icicles is beautiful- the snow, heavy on the branches and deep on the sides of the road gives off small diamond like sparkles.
    Though the weathermen are promising warmer temperatures tomorrow and all next week. Perhaps the maple tree will have swelling red buds then.
    So far- all has been in an unbroken freeze.
    I love your Oregon tells of Spring.
    Your pictures bring me hope.

    • drfugawe says:

      Heidi,
      I’m sorry I missed making a more timely response to your comment – There was a time when I too thought there was a beauty in winter, but then all too many painful and traumatic winter experiences burned their images into my brain – nowadays, the only snow I like to see and experience is maybe going up to Crater Lake in the summer heat and climbing on the huge piles of snow made by the plows the past winter, which never ever melt! Somehow, the craziness of that brings me joy.

  8. Melissa says:

    Another lovely Project Bloom post! I almost feel guilty over how much is in bloom all around me & how quickly I hurry past it each day in my haste to tend to all the “important” things I’m doing. Did you know the psych hospital where I work is actually filled with all manner of exotic plants & trees? Las Encinas actually means “The Oaks” and this property was originally owned by a very wealthy man who traveled extensively & brought back seedlings & cuttings and cultivated a botanical garden filled with non-Pasadena indigenous flora & fauna. You’d love it! The smells are incredible and so many flowers and huge leafy trees. Unfortunately cameras are forbidden as patient confidentiality could be compromised, so I can only describe it all to you.

    Thanks for sharing all those resilient little buds & blooms pushing their way through the OR winter gloom – just like you are!

    You’ve all almost made it, just a little while longer now!

    • drfugawe says:

      Ahh, Melissa, welcome back. Yes, I’d bet you’re a full two months ahead of us in the arrival of spring – but, yes, we too will eventually catchup and our hearts will swell just like the buds on the apple tree. (I do truly worry about the already half opened buds on my Seckel pear – this is much too early for such bravado.)

      I shall be doing another of these come the first of the month – but then, no one will be surprised to see the new awakening; still, it’ll be fun to track down all the little bits of evidentiary proof.

      Love your visits!

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