An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 13, 2008

North Carolina is Burning

For the last three days, the northeastern counties of North Carolina have been experiencing a series of very large brush fires that have forced schools to change schedules and roads to close. As I drove home on Monday, you could see a large plume of smoke that covered close to a quarter of the horizon in an otherwise cloudless sky, originating in the south and extending all the way to the Atlantic. On Tuesday the wind shifted and south Hampton Roads began to smell the acrid smoke. Last night it began to rain, and by this morning the air had the same smell that campers know when they pour water on last night's campfire. We got well over an inch of rain today, and I hope it will be enough to quell the flames.

We got the first of our spring trucks into work today (let the games begin). It was a shipment of bare-root roses from California, and we shall begin potting them up tomorrow. I did have a few minutes between rain drops to take some pictures in the display gardens and around the nursery.

The above are some of the soaked blooms on the Okame Cherry (Prunus x 'Okame'). This is the first cherry to bloom for us, but it usually blooms in early March. So far we are having a zone 9b winter in Norfolk, and a zone 8b winter at work, and this plant is about three weeks early. Okame is smaller than the other popular cherries that bloom later in this area, Yoshino and Kwanzan.

Also blooming today were a couple of Mediterranean natives; Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) and Clematis cirrhosa.

The Clematis twines its way through the Flying Dragon Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'). I have often referred to the Clematis as a weed, and it does behave that way, but it is evergreen and it does bloom in the winter. The Hardy Orange is really a citrus but it can take temperatures into zone 6, maybe even 5. Don't expect to harvest a crop of tasty oranges; they are small and bitter. The best part of this plant are the twisted contorted branches and talon-like thorns. It is a great plant for birds, who build their nests in them, impervious to the neighborhood felines.


  1. The cherry flowers are especially nice. Is the clematis fragrant too, by chance?

  2. Although sometimes listed as lightly fragrant, as far as I am concerned, it is not.