What's Blooming in December

Welcome to the Member Ideas area! This community feature is where our members can post their own ideas. These posts are unedited and not necessarily endorsed by the National Gardening Association.
Posted by @LarryR on
Writing this month's article is a special treat for me, because I get to see and talk about things actually blooming. I do that in my other articles as well, so why is this one different?. You see, our outdoor gardens, right now, are buried under five inches of snow and counting. Winds are gusting up to 55 miles per hour. Roads are impassable. Blizzard conditions. Come on in where its warm, see what's blooming, and meet our November contest winner.

Here at Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens we do have a few plants blooming indoors at the moment.

Among our tropicals in bloom is this beautiful moth orchid.
Anthurium, another tropical blooms on a kitchen windowsill.
Anthuriums have unique, colorful blossoms that last a long time.
This is one of our plant collections under lights in the basement.  At center left and right are rooted cuttings of my favorite coleus, 'Meandering Linda.' Behind the coleus on the right is a start from the sansevieria that Grant Wood used in his painting, Woman with Plants.  At bottom is a Ghost Plant and lurking in the background is the impatiens in the photo below. 
This impatiens, that Victorian gardeners called "sultana," is somewhat rare in the modern world of gardening.  It grows to three feet tall and has interesting variegated leaves.

Blooms from Betsy (piksihk)

 Walking Iris

Thumb of 2012-11-28/piksihk/37f1db


Congratulations to our Mystery Blossom Contest winner for November, Tee (SongofJoy) from Tennessee. Coming in second and third, respectively, were piksihk and Moby.  Tee is a major contributor to the ATP plant database, having provided 3,547 plant images.  She is also one of our Gardening Ideas writers.  Here is how she responded to my gardening questions.

How did you come to be a gardener?

As a child, I spent a lot of time on my grandparents' farm. I think it was there that the seeds of the love of gardening were first planted in me. My mother also loved to work in the yard and was a garden club member and talented floral arranger. A little of that may have rubbed off.

How long have you been gardening?

I have been gardening for over 40 years now. Since we moved fairly frequently, there was always something to learn about gardening in a new location.

If you had a chance to give just one piece of advice to a beginning gardener, what would it be?

You'll find a lot of diverse (and frequently overwhelming) information and ideas when it comes to growing things. A lot of gardening is simply trial-and-error, so don't be discouraged if you try and fail. If you persevere, you'll discover what works best for you and develop your own best gardening techniques.

Creeping Phlox, Tee's favorite photo

Why did you choose this particular photo for publication?

My grandmother's pink and purple creeping Phlox subulata covered the bank to the upper vegetable garden on their farm. In bloom, it was a spectacular sight that I still see in my mind's eye to this day.

Do you have a favorite flower?

Wow, it's difficult to pick just one. I've always loved daffodils, but right now it's the pansy because they bring such cheerful and welcome cold-weather color to our zone. 'Arctic Blast', 'Icicle' and 'Cool Wave' pansies and their smaller viola cousins are some of the more cold-hardy varieties. My favorite wildflowers are the milkweeds and Queen Anne's Lace. I recently discovered a jelly recipe I'm eager to try. http://www.foragingfoodie.net/queen-annes-lace-jelly.html

Do you grow vegetables as well?

I do grow some vegetables (and lots of herbs), mostly in containers, but I'm hoping to have a new small garden bed for veggies this coming year. I grow tomatoes, sweet and hot banana peppers, leeks, onions, chard, and mesclun in containers. In preparation for the in-ground garden, I have seeds of cardoon, kale, curly kale, mustard greens and salsify. I am a fan of "Square Foot" and "Lasagna" gardening.

Do you have any other hobbies?

It's a well-kept secret, but I write bad poetry. I enjoy history and travel. I forage to collect flowers and any other interesting plant parts to dry for use in decorating and in various other ways. I am a seed and plant trader. I suppose one of my favorite hobbies is junkin' and repurposing those old cast-offs into yard art or something else useful. One person's junk truly is another person's treasure.

Betsy (see piksihk above) wrote to share photos of two of her favorite plants currently in bloom ("Blooms from Betsy" below left).





January 8, 2013

This interesting perennial laughs at cold weather and blooms in December in the warmer areas of its range (zones 3-8). Native to mountainous areas of Europe, its blossoms are either white or pink.


Scroll down to the forum at the end of this article.  Click on the thread, "December Contest Entries."  (The thread may not appear immediately after the article is published.  If there is no thread by that name, please start one if you'd like to identify the mystery flower.)  Enter the genus, species, and common name of the plant pictured at left. The winner gets to select a photo of a blooming plant from her/his garden, to be published in next month's What's Blooming article, along with a brief interview.

Check back often to see if the bloom has been identified.  If readers are having difficulty, I may provide a hint.

This month's mystery flower is courtesy of Wikipedia and is used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.


Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, owned by Larry and Wilma Rettig, South Amana, Iowa, has been featured in local and national publications, on the Internet, and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in its Archives of American Gardens.  Larry and Wilma grow over 300 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Since 1986, they have maintained a seed bank that preserves vegetable varieties brought from Germany to the Amana Villages during the 1850s













Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
How did you come to have a start from the Grant Woods' subject coleus? by SongofJoy Dec 28, 2012 3:02 AM 6
December contest entry by 4susiesjoy Dec 27, 2012 6:40 PM 10

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