The first Snowdrops Galanthus elwesii emerged today! The 50F thaw after nearly 2 inches of rain caused them to emerge. This is actually about average bloom time for them; often we have them in bloom in January. The first snowdrops blooming this year are on the west side of the Island Garden.
A quick walk through the Rock & Waterfall Garden revealed no snowdrops yet but a couple very little known perennials of winter interest caught my eye. Depicted is the Sacred Lily Rohdea japonica. It is an evergreen related to lily-of-the-valley but stays in a clump and its flowers are little noticed. The flowers produce beautiful red berries which remain through the winter as shown. In a sense this plant looks like a hardy corn plant with almost shocking green leaves in the winter landscape. It is a great plant for dry shade (it must be planted in shade). In China it is a plant given to a new family for good fortune.
The winter foliage of the Italian Arum Arum italicum 'Pictum' also caught my eye in the Rock & Waterfall Garden. This plant sends out leaves in the fall and they remain green all through the winter. In spring, pale green "jack-in-the-pulpit-like" flowers emerge. The leaves soon fade but the flowers develop into naked stalks of green berries that turn red in late summer into fall. The stalks of red berries always draw questions of "what is that?" A great plant for the shade garden with interest at all seasons.
All photographs taken by Alan Branhagen at Powell Gardens on Feb. 8, 2008.