Saturday, December 15

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2007

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and I am cheating. Sure, I have a cute little poinsettia on my dining room table--in spite of the fact that I don't like poinsettias--but frankly I'm not in a very Christmas-y mood right now so I don't particularly want to show it. Bah, humbug!

What I want to show off instead is the lovely bergenia from my front yard, which is starting to "bloom" with tinges of its winter burgundy. In his book "Christopher Lloyd's Garden Flowers," the late Christo voiced his suspicion of the worthiness of bergenia... but did include a mention of its virtues as listed by fellow gardener Beth Chatto, who loves the plant and has included it in her dry gardens.

I agree with both of them in context. The flowers are not really worth growing the plant for... but the plant itself is so handsome and dependable that it definitely deserves a spot in the garden. Especially since it takes on this coloring from fall through spring, when not much else is changing in the garden.

(Given their mutual respect and strong opinions, those of you who are reading Beth and Christo's correspondences in "Dear Friend and Gardener" for the first time this month are in for a treat. Thanks to Carol for naming it as the most recent Garden Bloggers' Book Club selection, thus giving me an excuse to read it again!)

Since Bloom Day is all about flowers, I suppose that I should take a picture of the big, fat, swelling flower bud on my phalaenopsis orchid to post... but if I much prefer the approach of my fall-planted 'Angelina' sedum. You can see a hint of the dark orange that her tips will be turning soon, and the rest of her looks beautiful in the meantime.

In comparison, the orchid bud sits there like an oyster shell, clamped shut and stubbornly unbudging. It's been like that for way too long--doesn't it know that more isn't always better, especially in regards to teasing? Sometimes you at least need a taste of the beauty that awaits you.

Last but not least, I want to show some love for those plants that are performing above and beyond the call of duty. (And no, the Christmas cactus that is finally blooming after 3 years of residence at my house does not fall into this category!)

I never realized how beautiful the dusty blue leaves of sea kale, crambe maritima, could be in the wintertime... because by this time last year, the leaves had all withered away. I like the way they combine with the pebbly snow, brown leaves, and green sedum. The muted but rich colors, and the layering here, is very interesting.

The sedum is one that I had at my old house and have been introducing to fill that area while the sea kale is dormant--last year, there was a huge bare spot there from November through March. The sedum is a polite spreader, and isn't bothered by the shade of the sea kale leaves, so the plan has been working out fairly well.

And that wraps up my cheating post for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. To carry out the theme to its logical conclusion, I'll end with a quote--the only line that Silent Bob says during the movie Clerks. It pretty much sums up the way I feel about flowers vs. foliage anyway, but especially during December:

"You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you."


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I don't think you cheated Kim. I was quite pleased to read your post. I like the idea of having Bergenia. I thought it was a plant that liked to be damp not dry. I have been toying with the idea of trying it in a corner of my garden that gets wet every time it rains. I mean very wet. Not quite bog like but wet. Now I read here that it likes dry. I am confused. Is your bereginia in a dry spot? It is quite beautiful. Well worth the space for this fine color.

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I'm just beginning to appreciate bergenia. I'll definitely look into adding some next year. No Bloom Day post for me this month: it's positively freezing, and we're due for seven inches of snow tonight! Maybe some snowy "blooms"...

"Clerks" is one of my favorites! The first time I saw it, I was working in a grocery store part time, and Randall's line "A couple of trained monkeys could do our jobs" totally cracked me up. That movie helped me end a lot of long, annoying days back then :-)

Meagan said...

Flowers are overrated, I've always liked green things better. Or mostly green things like your bergenia. "more isn't always better, especially in regards to teasing"... I really want to comment on that Kim... but I just can't. I'll let you imagine me snickering like a high-schooler instead.

Carol Michel said...

Cheating? Hey, it's December in the midwest. I'm not sure any of us in the midwest has anything really blooming outside right now.

I do like the Bergenia... must get me some!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Unknown said...

Lisa, I'm under the impression that it won't be too happy sitting in water... I thought that it wanted to have well-drained roots, especially in the wintertime. But definitely check that before you decide whether or not to plant it there--and definitely consider putting it someplace that it will like if it won't be happy there. :)

Colleen, Clerks will always remind me of my sophomore year in college, because we watched it incessantly! I always think about the discussions on "milkmaids" when I see someone being fussy about which thing to pick at the store--even if that someone is me! lol. (Btw, if I get up your way at all in the next year, I'll happily bring you some bergenia.)

Meagan, lol. Thank you. Just remember, my parents sometimes read my blog. Behave. ;)

Carol, yes you do have to get you some! And I distinctly remember seeing at least a little vinca bloom on yours--and several pansies, too. :)

Kylee Baumle said...

Well now, Miss Kim, I need to check my bergenia! I was out there today, but failed to notice it. Of course, by morning, it will be well buried by the snow...

Unknown said...

As my son would say, Meh. MY bergenia is buried under a good foot of snow, and we're supposed to get a storm in the next 24 hours...maybe rain, maybe snow, maybe a plague of toads! I must, however, dig my way into the greenhouse and take a photo of the 'Angelina' sedum, because it has started to get that lovely fall colour (it's in a large cement trough I bring in the greenhouse for some protection thorugh winter).
A little Bah Humbug is good for the soul, Kim. Clears the sinuses. :-)

Ewa said...

I agree that flowers are overestimated. In my garden I try to make good foliage balance between green, silver, yellow and red - evergreens not to mentions, as main winter bone of the garden.
Bergenia is great plant - looking good all year round, self-services, it grow for years in the same place and on top flowers in the spring :) yes, flowers are not showy, but have that light spirit of decadence :) I have 3 kinds of bergenias and I like best Morning Red. I am also very attracted by b. cordifolia - little diference on flowershapes - but so far didn't see it in the nursery.
So, comming to summary, I join BLC (Bergenia Lovers Club) :)
Do you mind if I link you on my blog?
Greetings from my garden in Poland,

Silvia Hoefnagels . Salix Tree said...

The sedum is quite cheerful, definately something to lift one's spirits during the winter days.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Thanks for this colourful contribution to GBBD. I've read Dear Friend and Gardener too and enjoyed it a lot. One of my Bergenias is in flower at the mo. They've been acting very weird this year as far as flowering is concerned.

Your Crambe certainly has gorgeous leaves, both in shape and colour and they show off a treat against the background!

Anonymous said...

Kim: You never disappoint! Love your bloom day post. I have some bergenias but they are not great performers in the garden. By that, I mean that they are not very vigorous. I know it is my fault and I need to pay more attention to them!

Unknown said...

Kylee, if you got anything close to the FOOT of snow that my parents got, then it may be the end of the week before you can check that bergenia! :) (Drive carefully.)

Jodi, I just had a flash of 'Magnolia," one of the few Tom Cruise movies that I enjoyed in spite of myself. lol. I bet that 'Angelina' looks wonderful in a large cement trough--can't wait to see the picture.

Ewa, I have two kinds of bergenia, and the one I like best is 'Bressingham Ruby' because my regular b. cordifolia does not have nearly the fall/winter color of the ruby variety. By the way, you have a great eye for color--I enjoyed my visit to your blog!

Salix Tree, this is one time of the year when I really do enjoy the yellow. :)

Yolanda Elizabet, I devoured that book. (I devour most books, though!) At the end, I found myself thinking of them as "Beth" and "Christo" because I felt like I was part of the whole friendship circle. lol.

My bergenias haven't flowered at all this year. Not the ones that I moved or the ones that I (surprisingly) left alone!

Layanee, I wish that I could give you some hints with the bergenia but I honestly just ignore them mostly. I do clean up the bad leaves and mulch them, but that's about it. Maybe you should try some of my brand of "benign neglect!" ;)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

So we're both Bloom Day cheaters...I prefer to think of it as being creative. What type of Bergenia is that? I've not had good luck with Bergenia, blooms aside. That April freeze turned the leaves to toast. Rarely do I get that nice red in the Autumn from them. I want to blame it on the cultivar, not on my gardening practices.
I shouldn't be, but I am also a Kevin Smith fan. (Dogma's my favorite.) There's a convenience store nearby called The Quick Stop. I wonder if it's named in homage?

Genie said...

Thanks for the lesson on the bergenia -- it's a plant I knew nothing about, so I enjoyed the lesson! And I loved your cheating quote at the end -- good stuff!

Ewa said...

Dear Kim,
Thank you for visit and your nice words :) Feel free to link me :)

Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

Great post, Kim. Bergenia is one of faves and I not only have it colonizing in my garden but plant it in many that I design. There's a cultivar that have the most unusual crinkled leaves and it's incredible when it matures in a very large size. Very dramatic in the garden.

Ewa said...

Carolyn gail,
could you remember the name of the cultivar you mention?

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to trade you pics of Bergenia - unfortunately, mine are under 24 inches of newly laid-down snow at the moment. Maybe next spring!? In the meantime, I'll admire yours.

Doug Green

Ki said...

I'm glad you chose to show foliage rather than just flowers. I don't have very much nice foliage to show, at least I don't think we have any but your photos make me want to go out and check if we ever get rid of this really terrible wind.

Anonymous said...

I love the sea kale, perhaps due to my complete awe of all kinds of seas, I don't know - but it really is beautiful (as most of the kale family is I think - when I was in Michigan, it got me through some difficult months!). Anyway, I think cheating is fine. I wanted to post a gazillion images of my newest pack member, because, more or less, she is blooming each hour that I have her - and isn't that a worthy type of blooming as well? As for your final quote, that really made me laugh...but I have to admit I've rarely brought anyone lasagna to work (and when I say 'rarely', I mean - perhaps - like never) but this makes me think that perhaps I should.

As for the whole 'bah, humbug' thing: I handle the holidays awhole lot better now that I've developed the ability to block most of it out. Some of it is wonderful, most of it is unnecessary. Try and surround yourself with a little bit of the good parts. They're out there (as you know).

Ottawa Gardener said...

You are gardening inspiration for me. I love the way you paint with plants!

I've been a bit afraid of bergenia because it says 'plant in drifts of more than 20' and beautiful in wintertime (ha, under how many feet of snow) and it looks a bit raggedy around here mid season. Still I like the idea.

joey said...

Bergenia ... tops on my garden list, especially gracing drifts on the hillside. A great combo ... double yellow or white tulips combined with bergenia's fushia flower in the spring. By the end of the summer, fat 'cabbage' leaves soften surrounding bold color. Also lovely in the autumn landscape ... a busy plant that holds it own all year. said...

Oh but I love bergenia. I love when the leaves turn this lovely colour (mine was like that about 3 months ago but they're buried under snow right now). I enjoy the blooms. Close up, they're darling little bells and the hummingbirds think they're divine!

A great post you made for GBBD. Mine was a first-time post for it.

Diane, Sand to Glass

lisa said...

Heh...nice cheat! ;-)

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