When we last left this aberrant specimen, it was the week after Thanksgiving, and the plant was doing its typical maneuver: producing buds about 3 months later than it should have. It had pulled this stunt every year since I brought it home from the nursery. What was supposed to be a late summer/early fall flowering plant in fact was some sort of mutant strain that took its own sweet time hatching those orange Popsicle blooms that made me buy it in the first place. And with the freezing nights that descend on Cary, North Carolina in December, its cavalier attitude usually proved fatal. Consequently, the buds of my kniphofia rooperi (torch lilies to the rest of us) never made it to the flowering stage until 2011-2012, the year of the winter that wasn't.
Today, for the January 2013 edition of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (hosted by Carol at May Dream Gardens), I offer you the latest installment of the kniphofia soap opera.
Say hello to my winter torch lilies. Yes, they made it. We are having another mild winter, although it has been a tiny bit colder than last year. There have even been mornings when I was sure that they could not possibly have survived - mornings when the Acuba, my unofficial outdoor thermometer, was drooping pathetically in the frost and the pansies were positively crispy. I need not have worried. The Popsicle sticks bent a little on those frigid mornings, but they straightened out as the day warmed up.
So the good news is, they bloomed. The bad news is, nobody cares. It's January. At this time of year, the only reason I pass my side garden is to pull the garbage cart up to the street. Since they insist upon blooming in December and January, they will need to move to the front yard, where I can enjoy them in the color-compatible company of my pyracantha and coral bark willow.
Will they decide to bloom when they should - in September and October?
Will they continue to set buds in November, only to be nipped by the cold in their more exposed location?
Or - dare I hope? - will they burst forth with glorious flowers in the dead of winter, inspiring awe and wonder among gardeners everywhere?