I am sure all of you been wondering what has become of my extra-late-blooming kniphofia rooperi.
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.
It will be a cliffhanger, I know. It is impossible to tell how they will perform in their new home, away from the protective warmth of the brick wall.
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?
You assessed it accurately, these are not torch lilies, they are popsicles! Icy winter popsicles in citrus and mango colors. How oddly they behave, but how wonderful they are. Stunning, actually.
1/15/2013 08:12:07 am
That is an excellent suggestion! I will definitely take your advice. Thanks very much!
1/15/2013 08:29:09 am
Just because no one can see them except you doesn't mean they aren't beautiful. As Thomas Gray said (and I'm pretty sure he had your side garden and torch lily in mind),
1/15/2013 08:57:39 am
If a torch lily blooms on the side of the house in the middle of January, and no one is there to see it, is it still beautiful?
1/15/2013 10:39:23 am
I have a feeling it's going to be Door Number 2, but I'm a pessimist.
1/15/2013 11:49:02 pm
That has a nice ring to it!
1/15/2013 11:51:33 pm
I agree. Some people think orange is tacky, but I like it! For the kniphofia, you may want to go with something other the rooperi variety. I believe it is hardy to zone 7 only. But these days, who knows?
1/16/2013 03:57:13 am
I'm so glad to find your blog. I keep promising to plant kniphofia but haven't managed it yet. No matter how off schedule it is it would never be blooming here in January.
1/16/2013 05:28:13 am
Thanks for dropping in. I just stopped in at your blog and now I understand why you'd never have kniphofia at this time of year. It's quite the winter wonderland in your part of Massachusetts, I see. Your site is so interesting and I look forward to following it!
1/17/2013 01:49:44 pm
Sarah, That is an amazing sight in January; I'm glad they made it. (I use rhododendron as my informal winter thermometer. It's supposed to get down below 0 here tonight, so they'll be curled up so tight they'll look like needles tomorrow morning.)
1/18/2013 01:11:09 am
Who needs the weather report when we have evergreens to tell us the temperature?
1/19/2013 03:08:56 am
That's one of the many things I like about this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day--the challenge to find unique plants that sometimes were always there. You have beautiful examples for January!
1/19/2013 12:32:46 pm
Thank you so much. I agree with you - Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is always a great place to discover new things.
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The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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