It’s exciting to start a new year and 2014 already looks to be a busy and fun year. Gardeners in our area look forward to the winter solstice with more expectation than Christmas. As the shortest day of the year, seeing the sun set at 4:24 is downright depressing but there is a silver lining. Every day after the solstice brings a few minutes of daylight back to us and leads us into the hopeful season of spring.
This year has been a dry year with lots of sun so I should really not complain. Even today the sun was amazing, high about 40 with a ring of beautiful snowy mountains around the horizon. I put the Christmas decorations away and started raiding the greenhouse. My little greenhouse is tucked under a deck. It has sun on one side for about 7 hours a day, no direct overhead sun. Because of this, I have several bands of florescent lights to provide the needed additional light. I am able to over winter bananas, echevarias, tropical lilys, water plants, and other tropical treasures. I also keep good collection of orchids which I rotate into the house through out their blooming seasons. Although orchids would like to have warm days and cool nights they also do fairly well with consistent temps. I keep their water in a separate container at greenhouse temp so they don’t get cold water. Fertilizing with orchid fertilizer also helps to get some good blooms.
One orchid that was wonderful throughout the entire holiday season was this little gem, Zygopetalum, fragrant orchid. It sent up a spike in October and I moved it into the house in November. I kept smelling this wonderful fragrance and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Finally it occurred to me to smell the orchid. Orchids usually have no strong scent, however, this one is one of the most fragrant of all . The spike held 10 flowers and the scent filled the room. I moved it into my bedroom for the rest of the season.
This plant, bilbergia nutans Queens tears, I picked up at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show about 3 years ago. It loves being outside in the summer and takes almost no water. This year I divided it into about 20 babies and put the old one back in the pot. They like to be pot bound to bloom but this was beyond pot bound. Some of the babies were blooming and were given away to new homes. They don’t really take too much effort just don’t water and don’t let freeze.
This is a portion of my orchid bench in my green house. I have two vanilla orchids – vanilla planifolia. If you want to read something funny google “how to grow your own vanilla”. When I got to the “every day for six weeks, wrap the pods in a wet blanket to sweat and at night unwrap” part ,(after waiting 9-12 months for the bean to mature, pollinating flowers in the morning with a chopstick, after waiting 3-5 years for plant to mature) I vowed I would never attempt to grow my own vanilla even though (technically) I could. That gardener’s idea of easy is very different than mine.
Veltheimia bracteata (Forest Lily) – I got this bulb for last years garden show. I just wanted it for my own greenhouse but don’t order that often from San Marcos in California. A client said he cares for one in the window of his house. These are just coming into spike and bloom .
What things do you, my gardening friends, do to bring the out doors in? What are you over wintering in your green house? Don’t have a green house? That’s okay, if you did have a green house what would be in it?