Given that Valentine's Day just sailed by, it seems a little early for spring to have arrived, but here in the panhandle of Florida, all signs point in that direction.
For the foreseeable future, the weather guessers have us in the mid-70's each day, with lows in the mid-60's at night.
The humidity has been so high lately that we've been turning on the air conditioner at night just to dry out the air inside. When we wake up in the morning, the windows are fogged over on the outside from all the humidity, even though the inside of the house is less than 5 degrees cooler than the external air temperature.
Not surprisingly, with the temperatures and humidity this high, plants and wildlife are responding exuberantly. The early daffodils are in full bloom.
Looking at the blooms, I realized just this spring that all my early daffodils are multi-bloom types. I find I'm craving some big single blossoms, so that'll be on my list for next fall.
Gail Eichelberger's "practically perfect pink phlox"
, a.k.a. downy phlox (Phlox pilosa
), has been blooming since December, as it seems to do every year here.
I love this plant, but it's getting a little hard to find even in native plant nurseries these days - I think everyone must be catching on to the joy of having this beauty in their gardens.
Under the front magnolia tree, the golden ragwort (Packera aurea
) is blooming.
It has really filled in nicely this year. By next year, I may even be able to transplant a little to other spots in the yard.
This summer it should be looking like a particularly attractive dark green groundcover in a garden spot that has been especially hard to cover with anything but leaf mulch until now. Between the heavy shade and the rampant roots, it can be difficult to garden successfully beneath southern magnolias.
Based on a couple recent blog posts I've made, you know, of course, that some of the blueberries are blooming exuberantly already. The rabbiteyes (Vaccinium ashei
) are still dormant, but the highbush blueberries (V. corymbosum
) are in full spate and leafing out rapidly. In my yard, highbush blueberries definitely seem to outperform their rabbiteye cousins; if I add more blueberries, they'll probably be the highbushes.
Low, down at ground level, violets are starting to open up, too. I have 3 species in the yard; two have started blooming.
One of the blooming violet species is, I believe, the classic common blue violet (Viola sororia
), but I'm not sure what the other one is. This mystery violet has purple blooms and lance-shaped leaves. It came in with the white baptisia as a pleasant little hitchhiker that I've been enjoying quite a lot.
Speaking of the white baptisia (Baptisia alba
), my single specimen of this beauty has leapt out of the ground as if being chased by monsters below the soil. Baptisia is one of those plants whose shoots spring forth so quickly that I feel like I can see them growing if I stand still and watch for a few minutes.
I didn't notice the baptisia shoots at first, because they were being camouflaged by the spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis
) seedlings growing up around them. Some friendly crowding isn't likely to hurt, though. I haven't seen any fully open spiderwort blossoms yet, but I noticed a little blue peeking forth from one of the buds this morning. I won't be surprised to see a blossom or two tomorrow. The blue of spiderwort flowers makes my heart sing....
Have you ever heard spiderwort called bluejacket? I've never heard the term used at all, except in referring to actual clothing, but according to the USDA Plant Database, that is the official common name of T. ohiensis
. I wonder if it's a regional thing?
Speaking of regions, the Florida panhandle is part of a region that is known more for its non-native blooms than for its native flowers. Believe it or not, I do have a fair number of non-natives in the yard and gardens, too. As far as the classic non-native plants go, besides the daffodils, there are still several camellias blooming lustily...
...and the beautiful evergreen azaleas have started opening up their flowers along the west edge of the yard.
With the masses of magenta blossoms mounding throughout the landscape, I have to admit that I love azalea season, . Those big old southern Indica azaleas are truly spectacular. They'll be opening up soon and I'm really looking forward to wallowing in their purplish profusion. Sometimes even this diehard native plant aficionado has to bow down before the overwhelming beauty of certain exotic plants!