Sunday, August 7, 2011

Out of season flowering

OK, we've had a fairly miserable summer.  April was good, May and June generally cold, damp and disgusting, July a combination of a few nice days intermixed with a good many rotten ones.  August, so far, started all right but has now deteriorated.  In fact, it's windy and raining as I write.  But I didn't think it was bad enough to start winter flowering plants into bloom.

So I was a little surprised to see a little patch of yellow when looking out of the living room window this afternoon.  Dodging the showers, I went out to confirm that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  I was right.  Jasminium nudiflorum, the rather lax but easily trained as a wall shrub winter jasmine, was flowering.  Not just one flower but a whole branch was developing it's soft yellow tubular flowers.

Jasminium nudiflorum - taken during its more normal winter flowering
My plant is trained against an east wall and has never previously flowered before late November.  So why is it flowering now?  More to the point, is it likely to make a habit of this?  If so, it will disrupt my carefully planned (OK, accidentally thrown together) sequence of winter jasmine flowering in, would you believe, winter and Clematis texensis 'Princess of Wales' winding its way through the hanging stems for summer and early autumn interest.

I could, of course, put it down to the capriciousness of the Gods and sacrifice another burnt offering to propitiate them.  Another round of toast should do it.  Unfortunately, I was trained as a scientist so I tend to look for more rational explanations.  And my curiosity was piqued when I realised that in the front garden my reliably May - and only May - flowering Crinodendron hookerianum was also producing new buds and had already opened some of it's lovely red lantern flowers.  In August.

Crinodendron hookerianum
In temperate climates, with their distinct seasons, flowering is normally triggered by a combination of day length and/or temperature.  Here in Plymouth we had an early, unusually warm spring.  We've had very variable weather since then.  Flower buds that would normally be initiated as the day length shortens after mid summer but only slowly develop for flowering in winter - the jasmine - or late spring - the crinodendron - have been hastened into blooming out of season.  It shouldn't affect the normal flowering, there is plenty of time for things to settle back to normal.

Either that or we're all doomed.  Better warm up the toaster just in case.


  1. It's fascinating to see the occasional out of season oddities that can happen in the garden. As you said it shouldn't really affect their normal flowering period, but curious to see nevertheless. I remember a few years ago when we spotted one galanthus in bloom in September, very odd!

  2. There has been plants mildly out of season here as well. It has been a very strange year for bloom times. I have a jasmine plant that lives indoors in winter and blooms then, but it just started blooming now again. It is a new plant for me being only one year old, so I have no idea what is normal for it. Love the fragrance too.

  3. The one thing I've learned from years of experience is that the one predictable thing about gardening is that it is unpredictable! But I wouldn't have it otherwise.

  4. My Myers Lemon tree is yielding a second batch this year.
    In a normal year, we collect the first batch of fruits just before Thanksgiving. The plant rests and blooms in late spring.
    This year, it bloomed a second time and there are now a bunch of little lemon buds hanging there. About half of those didn't make it and fell, but the remaining ones seems to be going strong.
    I don't mind having more lemons, of course. The question is... will the spring batch be affected due to the energy spent on this extra batch of fruits?

    1. Probably not. I've no experience with lemons - definitely too cold for them here outside and I've never grown them under glass. But most out of season flowering doesn't affect normal flowering. You may take some energy out of the lemon if the fruits mature but it shouldn't affect it that much. But don't take my word as gospel.