The first flower of the year was actually Rabiea albipuncta, which was in full bloom on 1-1-12 in the rock garden along the north side of the parking lot at Timberline Gardens. Of COURSE I did not have my camera with me. But Woody Minnich did, and photographed it and some day perhaps I will get a picture from him...meanwhile, you shall have to settle for the image below, scanned from a transparency I took decades ago...
I suppose there are fussy gardeners addicted to gargantuan floral effects (you know the type: peonies, lotus flowers, colocasia...anything gigunda) who might find this tiny, warty, scrunched up little plant a tad homely. Even those luminous lemon blossoms would not melt their bloated, overblown fleshy-flowery hearts.
I read once that Titanopsis was discovered when a botanist sat on a limestone boulder and felt it give a bit with his butt. There is no way of tactfully saying that, so I am being vernacular. I mean, I could say "a botanist detected a certain resilience in the Magnesium carbonate exudant with his Gluteus maximus." But the demotic gets the point across better, don't you think?
I wonder if any other plant owes its initial discovery to an ass?
Whatever! Any plant that mimics rocks is fine by me. As for the Rabiea, their huge flowers are a shock whenever I come upon them! They can bloom now and again for the next three or even four months, a charming trait in any plant.
Long live these winter bloomers! And may we find even more to add to their glory!