My home garden is in Monroe, Ohio. Officially in USDA hardiness zone 6a, we still, however briefly, have hit zone 5a lows in winters not to distantly past. The soil in my immediate vicinity is Eden silty clay. In many local developments, the good stuff has been scraped away and sold off as topsoil to some other poor schmuck who also had THEIR upper soil horizons scraped away. Whatever we had upon our arrival has been amended with horse manure, coir, and compost. There is no bed in my yard that couldn’t have been amended some more.

03 March 2017

Early is a gamble

Jasminum nudiflorum is among the earliest flowering of the shrubby plants. Aptly called winter jasmine, it may start blooming at the slightest hint of warmth in late winter. This year, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, a significant portion of the flowers were open by mid-February:
By February 22nd, it was nearly in full bloom:

Descriptions of its habit may be quite subjective. As I photographed the plant at left, one passerby described it as flopping. Now, it's possible that their glass is only half full. I didn't think to ask, but I did point out that they could, instead, think of the delicate green (all winter!) stems as arching, or gracefully cascading down the slope atop which it had been planted.

In my opinion, it seemed to me to be a particularly effective use for the plant, as it has a tendency to layer (root where branches touch the ground), thereby reducing erosion. Form and function combined!

It has been elsewhere described as vining. That might be the case in richer soils, or shadier situations. Although winter jasmine will tolerate a great deal of shade, such conditions will result in the formation of fewer flower buds.

Relatively inconspicuous during initial expansion (perhaps because they are too small and widely distributed to attract attention), partially developed red-tipped buds will open into the bright yellow, 6-petalled flowers.
In spite of numerous flowers, little or no seed development seems to occur. However, as I alluded to above, it may slowly spread by layering (as raspberries do, only at a more reasonable pace).
Aside from the tendency to lose flower buds in harsher winters, the only shortcoming, at least around here, is the unseemly lack of fragrance in a species of Jasminum. All in all, I find that winter jasmine is worth the gamble.


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