Up and down

Somehow, and I cannot explain why, after nearly thirty one years in this garden, I am unable to locate micro climates that might support plants that are only marginally cold hardy (I hear you, I’m not too bright). Yes, I’ve tried, and failed, with no discernible patterns. At least, indiscernible to me. One year, maybe…

Winter fragrance

I’ve caught a bit of a cold after two days walking a trade show with ten thousand other plant people, so my already diminished sense of smell is reduced even further. Still, on this calm morning, with the air heavy from last night’s downpour, the fragrance from the vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is enough…

Goodbye, and good riddance?

The long declining Alaskan cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis) has been removed, cut as near the ground as possible. The remainder of the trunk and roots will remain, and these were not shallow so new plantings will not be interfered with while roots decay. Unsurprisingly, an evergreen planted twenty years ago occupies quite a large space, which…

The wait

The wait for spring has begun, though the target is not in March but a day in February when witch hazels and paperbushes are flowering, when daffodils are pushing above ground but there is no hurry for them as snowdrops and eranthus are flowering. From this day there is sufficient activity to occupy the gardener’s…

Marvelous and white

From mild and marvelous, the garden has turned to white, Bare branches and piles of debris set aside for another day are now covered by snow. Cloaked by wet snow, slender limbs arch to obstruct the garden’s paths. A gentle nudge dislodges the heaviest of it, but I don’t expect it to be around for…

A marvelous, mild early winter

Certainly, there is trouble ahead, there must be, despite reports from forecasters that no temperatures below mid teens (Fahrenheit) are expected in the seven weeks until spring (the gardener’s spring, March 1). Though today is gray, damp, and dreary, it is also mild. It is exaggerated to claim that the garden is filled with flowers,…

Random thoughts

A mild winter, so far, has allowed minimal protection of less cold hardy fatsia and anise shrubs. On chilly nights, leaves of the variegated anise shrubs (Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Frost’, below) droop, a reminder of their tenderness, though rhododendrons that are much cold hardier also droop on cold nights. Instead of baskets of leaves, I’ll…

A few of my favorite things

With fewer urgent matters to occupy the gardener’s time, early winter is a period for planning, what will be and what must be purchased for spring planting, and also for reflection. While scattered blooms and smaller delights entertain through these otherwise dreary winter months, piles of leaves and bare branches invite thoughts of the lushness…

Discredit where credit is due

Too often, I point to inattention to detail in maintaining this garden, and while the far less than manicured look is undeniable and mostly intentional, I am also occasionally guilty of failing to notice the everyday wonders of the garden. While certainly true, I plead for forgiveness on grounds that wonders (large and not so)…

A collection of mahonias

Differences between cultivars of late autumn flowering Mahonia x media are not readily apparent despite residence in this garden for a decade and longer. The evergreens’ upright stance and prickly foliage is identical (or nearly so) between ‘Winter’s Sun’, ‘Charity’, and ‘Underway’, and only the lack of spines on the more recently planted ‘Marvel’ is…

A late autumn colchicum

I am quite surprised to see a ‘Waterlily’ colchicum flowering in this third week of December in the newly planted area by the greenhouse. Several corms were ordered in mid summer to assure delivery and planting well ahead of their early autumn flowering. Instead, delivery of shriveled corms was made several weeks after others flowered…

Winter colors part 1

The yellow leafed periwinkles (Vinca minor, below) have long turned to green. It is new leaves that are brightly colored, a splendid contrast to lavender blue blooms. As these colors fade in the summer’s heat, hostas and Japanese Forest grass provide the color, but of course these have all withered by early December. The yellow…