I always find it fascinating to compare Elizabeth Lawrence's bloom journal entries with what's happening in her garden present-day. A better biographer this garden could not have had; on-site, we have 30 years of bloom journals - 1953 through 1983. Here are a couple of entries I recently found interesting:
January 1, 1964:
"Yesterday morning before the sleet began I went out to pick a little Algerian iris under the kitchen window - absolutely perfect - very fragrant. The rain came in the night, after the ice storm. When I looked in the leaves I found buds in the Christmas rose."
January 7, 1973:
"snow + sleet - down to 12 - As soon as the snow melted, the [Algerian] iris began to bloom again"
Elizabeth's Algerian iris, Iris unguicularis, still lives under the kitchen window, albeit not nearly as heartily as I'd like. Truth be told, I've been fighting like mad to keep any amount of it in the garden for my entire six year tenure, and have enjoyed exactly four blooms in that time. After her original clump rotted under an ill-draining gutter, I rescued more of it from elsewhere. I planted it in gravel (as advised), which I have always done in my own garden. Those haven't fared much better. Thankfully (at least in this case), I am stubborn and will continue to hold vigil over the two small patches of Elizabeth's prized Algerian iris. This is under the rose - I think I might just feel a bud down in the foliage!
Elizabeth's Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, has long been gone. In 2013, I planted a new one whose tag had no name other than "HGC" (aka: Gold Collection®). This year, its first flower opened Christmas Day. Elizabeth would have loved that! Wide flat white blooms have opened steadily ever since. They get lovelier with age as they turn golden green and backs of the petals become washed in tones of pink and maroon.
As for the weather, well, it's been all over the place. Just two weeks ago, we were heading into the first major winter weather of the year - Snowpocalypse 2017!! - with predicted snowfall of 2-6" and lows in the single digits. They were wrong about the snow (we got ice and a smattering of snow), but they were almost right about the temperatures. On Sunday, January 8, we hit a low of 16ºF, and 18ºF the next night. Brutally chilly. That's when I was glad for the ice cover - it may well have saved some buds. By the following Friday, we hit a high of nearly 80ºF. Winter in the Carolinas can be like riding a yo-yo. I don't really let it bother me. Besides, what better way to find out which plants are truly garden-worthy?
Yours in Dirt,