Sweet Surprises

The day before the start of March, February has hit us with another round of snow. It is light, white, and fluffy. As much as I dislike the chill of winter, it’s hard to be angry about something so beautiful. But, even if you find the weather getting you down, I’m here to lighten your mind with some beautiful plants in bloom in our greenhouses.

eyelash begonia (Begonia bowera)

We have a lovely begonia collection here. You may recall my blog about it last year (begonias) We are mesmerized by the great variety of begonias that exist. Our collection is large, but still is only a drop in the bucket of begonias in the world. This eyelash begonia caught my eye this week. It’s tall pink flowers reaching out for admiration. Most of our begonias are winter bloomers. They certainly light up the dark winter months with their assertion that even when the world is still cold (and snowy) life carries on.

Two other reliable winter bloomers are our camellias (Camellia japonica) and bush lilies (Clivia miniata). This camellia is blooming its pretty head off right now in our cool greenhouse. There is a sweet romance to camellias. I just want to hold their blooms in my hand and admire the delicate intricacies of the petals. For much of the year the bush lilies are quite understated with only their wide strap-like leaves. In February and March, they burst into life with over-sized orange blooms.

In the warmer greenhouse, Spanish shawl (Centradenia floribunda) and the flowering maple (Abutilon ‘Lucky Lantern Yellow’) make eyes at each other from across the aisle. ‘Lucky Lantern Yellow’ has been blooming for months now. The cheerful, sunny glow that filters through these flowers is so nice on a cold day. Meanwhile, the violet blooms of Spanish shawl drape down over the edge of the bench and remind me where this plant got its name. I would love to wrap myself up in a shawl of these pretty little flowers.

The other glory of the greenhouse in winter is the absolutely intoxicating fragrance that emanates from many of the blooms, making a perfume I wish I could bottle. One of the flowers that contributes to this mix is sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans).

sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans)

It would be very easy to pass by this plant and have no idea that the powerful fragrance was coming from these teeny tiny flowers. So much scent for such a small bloom. Never underestimate a plant’s power to surprise.

Next time you need a pick me up, come on over to the greenhouses at Blithewold and take in all the beauty that is housed under the glass roof. You may even leave with a smile on your face.

*credit for top image: Gail Read