Black Hellebore is a lot less sinister than its name implies. (Amanda Slater/Flickr)

Black Hellebore is a lot less sinister than its name implies. (Amanda Slater/Flickr)

Deer Gardener: Early blooms are pretty, but risk a cold snap

By Elaine Nyeholt

Last year’s amaryllis is blooming beautifully. It has only three blossoms and will not bloom again next year — I can tell from the size of the bulb . SO I won’t keep it growing or fertilize it like I would for a newer bulb. This is the third year I’ve had flowers on it, so my money has been returned very nicely.

While wandering the yard I’ve noticed that Bambi is hungry. If you have something you value, best get it covered with some chicken wire before it gets “nipped in the bud.”

What a marvellous “winter” so far! Unfortunately, this warm, wet, and wild session has the salmonberry and others budding already. Likely we have a cold snap coming along that will seriously upset this spring-like budding and endanger the plants that are doing what feels natural.

I have a lovely pink rose blooming right next to the house. This is NOT good, although it is pretty. Cutting the plant back is the best option, but pruning encourages new growth that will freeze more easily because it is tender, as opposed to seasoned wood.

Many bulbs are poking through the soil too. Since I cannot push them back down, mulching is perhaps an option, but it’s a long time to mid-March when they should be poking through. It may just have to be a tough-love thing, and wait to see what happens. A snowfall prior to a cold snap would insulate the bulbs admirably.

Any day now the Hellebore will show full colour. They seem to wait for just the right weather — I hope it’s not too warm for them. My neighbour has flowers on hers already.

It would be good to get the tall white/green ones tied up before they bloom… they tend to fall about in the wet and windy spring, making them less appealing and tricky to clean under.

My geranium that were brought in from the greenhouse in early November seem to be done blooming now. I have clipped them back and stopped watering them to give them a rest. Some cuttings were taken to make new starts. It seems the red geranium are the easiest to keep going, and to root from cuttings. The white ones are considerably smaller plants in my home, and less hearty. Thankfully Doug always has new ones for us.

The lettuce, beets, mint, and parsley are very content growing in the backyard just now. Any minute I expect them to be frosted and gone! It’s fun to munch your way around the yard in January.

There are still some yard cleanup chores to do at my house. My “get up and go” “got up and went” last fall. Now I have soggy Tiger Lily to cut off, and there are still some pea vines to clean from the fence.

My tardiness in cleaning up the peas reminds me to make a better netting plan for the coming season. In one spot I put a slanted net area, and it was easier for me to pick the peas (they grow so tall) and easier to put up. I also trained the vines to grow across the fencing more, to keep them easy to reach. This worked well for me and it’s worth repeating on the Scarlet Runners, provided I can plan it ahead.

The dreaming and scheming season is well in place!

Deer Gardener