Winter blooming

Mt Wellington, Hobart
View from my living room window, feeling like we live in a ski town sometimes.

This is my fourth winter on this side of the world. It’s pretty mild in Tassie: highs between 10-12° C most days, rain and wind and light frosts, no freezing temperatures and no snow unless you live at a higher elevation. Kind of like coastal northern California or southern Oregon, but without any of the insulation, or central heating. I am totally okay with the idea of never living somewhere colder than this.

That said: I like living in a place with four seasons, and it’s fantastic that I can keep poking around in the garden through all of them. I’ve got a few plants that claim to bloom all through autumn and winter, and they actually delivered on that promise. So cool! That means I’m going to have to take pictures and brag about them.

Here are the plants I’ve got that bloom in the dead of winter:

Hellebore planter

Hellebores

Back in January, I posted about dividing a clump of hellebores and transplanting them into this brick planter by the front door. And they’re doing GREAT. Look at them go! It’s a sheltered, shady spot, which they like. They should last pretty much forever.

Hellebore planter
Hellebore planter

The purple colour is nice and the flowers last for months, even after the purple fades to green. If I’d bought these flowers myself I’d have planted some of the dark, dark purple-black hybrids, but hey, free hellebores.

Hellebore planter

They don’t mind having their old foliage removed annually, so in summer I’ll trim back the old tatty foliage and let the small ornamental grasses and native violet have the run of things. Native violet — that creeping green ground cover — sends up lots of pretty little violet flowers in the warmer months.

grevillea 1

Grevilleas

Grevilleas are Australian natives, but they’ve been bred and hybridised into many cultivars. I can see why people like ‘em: there’s loads of varieties for every climate, and they bloom like mad all winter. I found it daunting to choose some for my yard, even after finding recommendations for cold-hardy grevilleas, but I finally chose some based on their low height, flower colour and soft leaves. (No thanks on the stabby spiky leaves.)

Grevillea 'Fireworks'

I planted two of these along the front hedge, a cultivar called ‘Fireworks’. They’re meant to grow about 75cm high and their soft needle leaves look similar to rosemary. Like other grevilleas, they’re low-maintenance, drought-tolerant and they have striking, spidery flowers. These flowers aren’t screaming pink, nor are they screaming yellow. THEY’RE BOTH.

 

grevillea bush
front hedge 7:14

I planted these in January, and they’ve been in bloom since June. I’m totally on board the grevillea train now. I want more.

Mishka in a tree...

(Intermission; cat tree break.)

Hanging cactus planter

Winter cactus

I’d never heard of these until last year, probably because I come from a place full of proper cacti. Winter cactuses (aka: chain cactus, Christmas cactus, zygo cactus) are epiphytic rainforest cacti that like sheltered, shady, humid locations. They won’t set bud unless it’s dark and cold enough for them.

This magnificent hanging cactus came with our property and I didn’t look after it as well as I should have, as was evident when it didn’t flower as prolifically this year. I suspect that it wouldn’t mind a light prune and seaweed solution before it begins to bud, nor would it mind regular watering (oops). Still, it’s a big ol’ succulent. It looks after itself pretty well.

I didn’t attempt to repot it — it’s brittle, and they’re perfectly happy in smaller pots — but I did give it a more substantial looking hanger, using a $4 op-shop macrame hanger (it’s huge! 4ft long!) and bowl planter. I’ll try and look after you better next year, buddy.

pale pink camellia

The backyard: camellias and the herb garden

I don’t currently have much for winter interest in the backyard, although there are two established camellias in the mixed border that are ready to pop. The larger, more sheltered of the two is already beginning to bloom here and there. I had to snap a photo of one of its showy, perfect blossoms, because they like to quickly turn brown on the edges just to spite me. (The plants are well fed and watered, but ugh, cold windy weather does them in.)

herb garden Aug 1

Now, this herb bed needs work, but holy hell, that rosemary has been blooming nonstop since May. Crazy. You can also see the hot pink flowers of a pineapple sage, which, colour me surprised because I thought it’d died off after summer. Welcome back, pal.

The lavender is new. It was blooming when I bought it, though its tag claims that it blooms early and for long periods. That’s good to hear, considering that I mainly planted it as a bee attractant. It’s not gonna be doing that without its flowers.

rosemary purple flowers

That rosemary, though. So many tiny purple flowers! This lens isn’t a macro, but hey, I’m gonna act like it is anyway.

West Hobart / Mt Wellington

Mishka, boss cat.

Well, that’s winter nearly done in Hobart town. Me and Boss Cat here are really looking forward to warmer weather and seeing more of my plants grow.

14 thoughts on “Winter blooming

  1. Love the camellias. I used to always check them out at the Linnaean House at the botanical garden in St. Louis. The grevilleas are nice too. The name definitely suits the flower. I guess we got a variety of rosemary that doesn’t flower, cause ours never did. Yours is beautiful! One question, though – what’s the tree Mishka is sitting in? Are those nuts?

    1. The camellias came with the house, and they’re beautiful. Mishka Catface is sitting in the eucalyptus tree in our backyard! It’s a small one with pink flowers in summer, and yeah, the seeds (gum nuts) are enormous.

    2. I’m a St. Louis native and Botanical Garden lover, so I’m surprised to find someone else on this international blog with the same interests!! I think the Garden is the most magnificent thing about this city!

  2. Great post! I keep meaning to buy some hellebores. They are really beautiful and I love that they bloom when it’s cold. Christmas cacti aren’t my favorite but I know quite a few people who’ve kept theirs going for 20+ years! They’re pretty when blooming.

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 I don’t think I’d have bought a Christmas cactus myself, but I respect this big old guy that we inherited with our house. Do it, buy some hellebores next spring — you could plant an entire rainbow’s worth if you wanted!

  3. Hooray for flowers in winter! Unfortunately I just have weeds… I’m a spring gardener but I’m learning! One day I hope to make the best of all seasons like you have 🙂

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