Some winter flowers

Here in northern California we have an array of seasons, marked not just by weather, but also by cycles of various plants. There are plants that come into bloom in December and January: my cymbidium orchids, in particular. Most citrus fruits mature then. Some food plants — leafy greens and most cruciferous vegetables — flourish then. And the first narcissus plants come into bloom then. Late January brings a series of botanical events that signal early spring or summer elsewhere: among other things, calla lilies spring up, magnolia trees reach their apex of blooming; garden ranunculuses (aka Persian buttercups) flourish; and the first of the flowering fruit trees, the flowering plums, come into bloom.

Some garden notes from this week, starting with a delightful animated greeting card from Benita Bendon Campbell featuring Persian buttercups.

Showy buttercups. The conclusion of the Jacquie Lawson card from Bonnie:

(#1) “A Cheerful Composition: Ravishing ranunculi form a bewitching bouquet!” (music: 1st movt. of Brandenburg Concerto no.4 in G, BWV1049, by J.S. Bach)

The buttercups appear first and then the other plants fill in.

(On this blog, on 4/21/13 in “ranunculus”, about Ranunculus asiaticus, the garden ranunculus or Persian buttercup.)

Impressive magnolias. Now appearing all over town: Magnolia × soulangeana:


Magnolia × soulangeana (saucer magnolia) is a hybrid plant in the genus Magnolia and family Magnoliaceae. It is a deciduous tree with large, early-blooming flowers in various shades of white, pink, and purple. It is one of the most commonly used magnolias in horticulture, being widely planted in the British Isles, especially in the south of England; and in the United States, especially the east and west coasts. (Wikipedia link)

On this blog on 1/19/15 in “magnolias”, where I note:

People in the East and South of the U.S. think of magnolias as intense summer flowers, but here they’re one of the signature winter flowers.

The onset of the flowering fruit trees. Suddenly, there are trees covered with white blossoms all over the place:

(#3) White plum flowers

From the website of the Bay Laurel Nursery (three locations in the Bay area):

When you see the blossoms on the flowering plum tree, you know spring has finally arrived!

Varieties of Flowering Plum Trees: Plum trees (Prunus spp.) with white or pink flowers bring beauty and color to yards and landscapes. Growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10 and other regions throughout the world, plum trees often produce small, berrylike fruits or drupes. Whether deciduous or evergreen, their foliage is typically green, purple, bronze or red. So you can choose trees that fit best with a structure and color design.

On the genus, from Wikipedia:

Prunus is a genus of trees and shrubs [in the rose family, Rosaceae], which includes the plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds.

Around 430 species are spread throughout the northern temperate regions of the globe. Many members of the genus are widely cultivated for fruit and ornament.

… Liberty Hyde Bailey says: “The numerous forms grade into each other so imperceptibly and inextricably that the genus cannot be readily broken up into species.”

Soon to come: other flowering Prunus (especially cherries), plus flowering pears, apples, and crabapples.

Meanwhile, the winter rains have tapered off to widely separated light showers; apparently, we are back in the drought years. And on Sunday the temperatures rose to above normal (highs in the 60s and low 70s), apparently to stay there for the duration. As far as the weather goes, we are now fully into spring.

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