Today is the official first day of winter and it has been snowing lightly on and off all day. It’s very peaceful and quiet outside, the only sound the birds singing. The birds are the only bright colors in the garden at this time and without them it’s a plain brown and gray everywhere we look. We couldn’t fill the feeders fast enough but we’re not complaining. Here’s my first day of winter outside:
There’s nothing to do in the garden at this time aside from filling the feeders, cleaning and filling birdbaths, and stalking birds with the camera. So, I spend time in the house trimming tropical plants, reading and listening to the music. This time of year the radio stations seem to put Beethoven’s Symphony #9 and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on almost everyday, so far, twice today on our local station. I don’t mind at all especially the Symphony#9 which I always turn up really loud. For some reason this symphony always sounds so much better loud. A friend once told me that Beethoven composed this piece when he was nearly deaf so he needed to feel the music. I don’t know if that’s really true but when I listened to it at Carnegie Hall I could feel the vibration. The same goes for Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. When not listening to the radio, our outside chorale is equally good to me. Herewith some of the Avian Chorus’s members:
Though nothing is flowering in the garden, flowering continues in the basement and on the windowsill. Nothing soothes my mood like the scent of jasmine and they are still blooming.
It’s a little bit too cold for mid-September this year. Some nights the temperature has gone down below 40°F and hovered around mid 50°F during the day. But it has gone up to 70°F during in the last two days. The thirty degree gap between high and low temperatures makes it difficult for me to decide whether to move the tropical plants back down to the basement. Although it’s not yet freezing, these plants don’t like to stay in a temperature below 50°F, but I do want them to get real sunlight as long as possible. I think I’ll move them this weekend if it doesn’t rain. Better safe than sorry since many of them have been with me for many years. They have been putting up with confinement (in a pot) all these years so I shouldn’t discomfit them further. The weather may not have been on their side this summer but they still offered fragrant flowers throughout the summer and some of them are still pushing to bloom even when it’s a little bit too cold for them.
‘Azores’ jasmines (Jasminum azoricum) have just produced new flower buds that will blossom when they’re already in the basement. They flowered through mid-winter while residing in our basement last year.
‘Poet’ Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) seems to like cold weather. It started to bloom more when the temperature dropped and is still blooming.
‘Belle of India’ jasmine (Jasminum sambac) really struggled this year. Its’ leaves dropped at one point when it had been raining for a several days and it was forced to sit in water for a bit. It managed to produce a couple of flowers anyway.
I repotted, changed the soil and trimmed the roots of the ‘Maid of Orleans’ jasmine (Jasminum sambac) this year. I gave them a close pruning as well. It’s a ritual I do every couple of years for all the potted plants so they can have fresh dirt and more leg room. They respond well by producing bigger flowers abundantly.
Almond verbena (Aloysia virgata) is happy after receiving a crew cut early this spring. It can grow pretty lanky and floppy when it doesn’t get enough sunlight. Now it’s a little more compact and blooming better too.
Orange Jasmine (Murraya paniculata) produced a lot of flowers earlier this summer and is still flowering here and there. Their three inch tall offspring seems to want to flower as well. Maybe because they are closer to the house and warmer.
After a flood of “Maid of Orleans” jasmine (Jasminum sambac) a couple of weeks ago, there are still some flowers to pick for the house everyday but not as many, not until the second wave of flowers bloom. They are forming new flower buds again and won’t slow down until they are back in the basement wintering over.
Now it’s the time other jasmine give their performance. The “Belle of India” jasmine (Jasminum sambac)blooms next. Yes, they are “sambac” as well. The delicate white flowers are bigger than the “Maid of Orleans”, around an inch in diameter, with longer petals, and they smell just as sweet. Some of the flowers are even double-layer petals.
The “Grand Duke of Tuscany” jasmines (Jasminum sambac) also start to bloom. They are really grand when they bloom. Each flower has one inch diameter with multi layers of petals and strong jasmine scent. I have this vision of them in a small delicate vase on a dresser or on a jacket lapel. I did cut some flowers and brought them in the house, their fragrance got even stronger in the evening. The good thing about them is that unlike other jasmine, the flowers will last a couple of days instead of blooming for only one night. They are too big to just pick the flowers off the plants so cutting them with their stem attached is a perfect way to bring them in the house.
Next to bloom is the “Azores Jasmine” (Jasminum azoricum). This jasmine will wind up a small trellis very well and produces flowers in clusters. Its fragrance is a little bit sweeter than the “sambac”. It’s also a fast grower and can stay in a small pot as long as you feed it well.
I’m not done with the jasmine yet, still have a couple more to go. Yes, I collect as many varieties as I can find. I’m still looking for one particular jasmine, English name unknown to me. I’ve seen them in Thailand but nowhere else I’ve been. It has very small flowers that like stacked up stars.
I also wish I could capture their fragrance as well because the photographs alone just can’t do them justice.