The winter garden

Even while hellebores and snowdrops remain buried beneath an icy blanket of snow, flowers of mahonias and witch hazels offer a daily dose of comfort to soothe the gardener, anxious in a continuing freeze that spring seems so far off. While I occasionally join others who scour nursery and seed catalogs, my relief is found…

Spring is for magnolias

Thoughts of spring have begun in earnest, though the seemingly interminable second half of winter remains. I will be at least slightly encouraged once the still inches thick blanket of snow and ice melts and average temperatures for the season return, but neither appears imminent. While several dogwoods were added to the garden in the…

Slow to melt

While this low lying garden is mostly protected from harsh winter winds, with forest bordering the garden’s southern border snow is slow to melt, even when the winter sun shines brightly through the tall maples and tulip poplars. Though I have been slow to notice, this clearly shows those warmer microclimates that permit marginally cold…

Adding dogwoods

A variegated ‘Silver Cloud’ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Silver Cloud’) leans against the small greenhouse at a sixty degree angle, assuring that its removal is imminent. The redbud has leaned for several years, tipping a bit more each year, and the recent heavy snow contributed additional lean. A second severely leaning ‘Silver Cloud’ was removed a…

Bruised, nothing more

The garden is not happy this morning following a night when temperatures dropped near ten degrees (Fahrenheit). Leaves of aucubas ( below) and rhododendrons hang limp, a protective mechanism but very concerning to gardeners who have not repeatedly seen leaves rise as temperatures approach the thirties. I am not concerned about any plant in this…

Similar, but different

The variability of seedlings is illustrated on a brief jaunt through the garden viewing handfuls of native American holly (Ilex opaca) seedlings. While several have been dug and moved to locations better suited to the long term, all are native to the forest that borders the garden. All are readily identifiable as American hollies, and…

Make the best of it

The gardener must muddle through the worst, always looking for a reason to smile. Regular bouts of heat, drought, and flood can be painful, though severe cold could be the worst. Fortunately, no matter the season, there is some bloom, bud, or bark to bring joy. Today’s blanket of snow is lovely (at least until…

A tale of two days

Shoulda, coulda, but didn’t. I was aware that snow was forecast for today. Ideally, I would have taken advantage of yesterday’s sixty degree temperatures to tie the mahonia’s branches (below). Instead, I browsed the unusual number of blooms for this first week of the new year, so this morning a tall branch obstructs the path…

I forget

Sometimes, I forget. But, then the garden reminds that some task was neglected, and today the first color on snowdrops along the front walk is a reminder that much of the wide spreading clump of the evergreen ‘Evergold’ carex should have been dug out as flowers faded a year ago. Instead, the carex was cut…

A winter gift

This mild, late December afternoon has lured bees from their shelters to sup from mahonia (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, below) blooms at their winter peak. The buzz is heard from several paces down the path, and bees are hardly bothered as I poke my nose close. Tomorrow, bees will be gone until the next…

Dig first, think second

Exceptionally mild December temperatures have encouraged me to jump into a project that was just a thought until the first spade of sod was dug a week ago. The lower rear lawn has long been a disappointment, an overly damp weed patch for several years. Occasionally, I get to thinking about doing something here, but…

Out of season

Recent mild temperatures have encouraged flowering of several spring flowering camellias along with prolonging blooms of a single azalea that occasionally flowers into early December. The formula of cold nights followed by mild daylight hours that spurs early, spring-like flowering is imprecise, and in the case of camellias December flowers are quickly damaged in twenty…