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Flowers in Winter

Clockwise from top left: Lenten Rose, Christmas Cactus, orchid closeup and plant, rose mix, Lenten rose, amaryllis.

Flowers are a simple thing that bring a lot of joy. When it’s chilly out, I enjoy looking for the first signs of Lenten roses, ducking their heavy heads below their sturdy leaves and a layer of pine straw. They’re most commonly pale pink, but the rare burgundy, purple and variegated ones are so fun to find. I once heard them called “a rose of Winter,” blessing us during the coldest season, a gift we cannot keep. My mother-in-law loved the pink ones, which fill our backyard, and I have added the brighter varieties to our landscape.

Christmas Cactus is another of Winter‘s charms for me. I have my mother’s red plant now. It has a swarthy stem bigger than two of my thumbs and probably dates back to my childhood. I have saved it from near death twice now: once when left behind in the heat during a move and the second time when it had been grossly overwatered. Repotting and a little TLC can work wonders. It has survived attack from the new big dog as well. The cuttings from Mama’s Christmas cactus are very easy to transplant, so many little plants are given away. They bloom anytime between October and April, sometimes twice, but hardly ever at Christmas!

Camellia’s deep rose blooms are a family tradition. My mother preferred pink ones, but I like the more common bright ones. When I was a teenager, my great aunt Ruby’s dog loved to run laps around her rosy Camellia bush, which was almost as big as her garage. Our Camellia had a hard pruning last summer—it was too tall and oddly shaped after a storm, so this year’s blooms are just a few bright spots in the green bush. I’m so glad my mother-in law planted this one years ago.

Camellia blooms are few this year, but next year will be amazing!

My new flower hobby has been orchids. I was given a beautiful purple variegated one Christmas 2019, which bloomed again last August. Shortly after lockdown started , I saw a big pot with two slightly puny purple ones, set out with my neighbor’s trash. I rescued/repotted them and they’ve been happy ever since, at least until the new pup knocked over their table and broke their pot. I had an oops with cleanup—I clipped a flower stem, thinking it was a dead root. Oh well! Maybe it will try again soon. I have two other white orchids, probably cymbidium, which look pretty healthy. I hope for more blooms soon. Keeping a finicky plant healthy is a fun challenge and the miracle of new blooms makes me so happy!

I love amaryllis and I think I am finally having some success growing them. I always thought they were a Winter blossom, yet a neighbor told me to let them go dormant and bring them out after Easter. I’m trying it and the resting stem looks healthier. Sometimes I have to wait and be patient. Spring is coming soon.

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