The Fragrant Sun Room

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

January is progressing, and so is my indoor plant world. The daffodils on the west counter of the kitchen are showing color, and should be blooming by Beth’s birthday on the 25th. On the south table of the sun room at least ten purple crocus are in their full flower. The delft blue hyacinths on the west kitchen counter are in their full glory–making the kitchen fragrant, as well as giving visual enjoyment to Beth. The pink fondant hyacinths, also a favorite of Beth’s, are in the “man cave” facing south. Their flower stalks are just coming into their own, and by the weekend they will be in full flower.

One of my favorite catalogs is DUTCH GARDENS. It is not a seed catalog in the traditional sense. Bulbs and perennials are their specialty. I love the fragrant Oriental lilies, and they have plenty of new ones to choose from. I ordered heartily, and can’t wait to place them in the garden. One of these first winter days, it’ll be time to make Braille labels for them for immediate placement upon their arrival. I also ordered three bags of gladiolus, just for something different. One is pink, one is gold, one is purple–I’ll let Beth decide if they were worth my money. I ordered them for their height, as I like the large glads the best.

Our above average sunshine this winter, along with the consistent heat in the sun room, has posed something different this January. On Sunday morning Beth ventured into the sun room to fetch a gallon of water for her orchids. She said that the room smelled like orange blossoms. Can’t be. The citrus trees have received no fertilizer, have been watered sparingly, and don’t bloom until April. But sure enough, both of the larger tangerine trees are loaded with buds. There are no bees in the sun room, and therefore even though the flowers may bloom, odds are excellent that they will not become fruitful. In fact, the buds are so small that they might not even mature and bloom.

The lemon tree is a different matter. Snug against the east window glass were large lemon flowers already open. Again, their chances of setting fruit are slim to none. I could hand pollinate them with a Q-tip, and I might just do that. I noticed that each of the flowers are fully developed with both stamens and pistils. Sometimes just the male parts are present in these flowers. It has been a while since I’ve harvested a lemon, which tempts me to get the Q-tips out. In the meantime, the sun room is redolent with citrus tree blossoms, and it is wonderful.

And then there is the lime tree. It has never borne fruit, or even bloomed. It simply drops leaves all winter in the sun room, gets ugly, then revives in the spring; some things never change.

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