Two Dianes and other witch hazels

Curiously, two witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia), the red flowered ‘Diane’ and copper colored ‘Jelena’, flowered in mid-autumn, with no weather related cause that I could determine. I was, of course, concerned at the time that flowering then would mean no blooms in February, an unwelcome tradeoff since there are numerous other flowers in autumn,…

More swampiness

I don’t believe it’s possible for the lower half of the garden to be any soupier than it is today. The repeated cycle of freezing and thawing opens air pockets in the soil that are now filled with moisture from recent snow, ice, and rain so that every step in the back lawn leaves a…

Fair weather

The assistant gardener is a fair weather sort, plagued by a variety of cold related irritations so that she’s rarely outdoors below fifty degrees. As always, I’m out slip sliding in the garden in ice and snow, and now sinking into the quagmire, no matter the heat or cold, though a visit on a breezy…

A week to savor

After the recent stretch of severe, though not unusual cold for early February, this is a week to savor with temperatures in the fifties and sixties, and a day when some spots peaked in the low seventies (Fahrenheit). More typical colder weather is on the way, but it’s winter and it should be cooler than…

After the freeze

The anticipation of an incoming few days of extreme cold, and the subsequent waiting to discover damage to the garden’s treasures is quite unpleasant, filled with imaginings of the worst that could happen. Previous experience, that injury is rarely as severe as feared, reassures somewhat that damage from a single night of two degrees below…

Below zero

Three consecutive nights with temperatures below ten degrees (Fahrenheit), with the second freeze falling to two below zero, have destroyed the remaining yellow blooms of late autumn and early winter flowering mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, before and after, below). All of several cultivars were tardy flowering in November, but then also slow to…

Clean? No chance

Being on the backside of the aging continuum, I am more often confounded by goings on in this modern age. I don’t think I’m out of touch, but perhaps I am. The rock and roll vibe passed me by in the eighties, and amongst current mysteries is the “clean food” movement. Always, I’ve advocated that…

Evidence of spring’s approach

Evidence of spring’s approach is scant, typical for this part of Virginia in late January, but of course, less than hoped for. Without a doubt, the winter hiatus from the garden’s chores is appreciated, three weeks seems adequate, and now I’m anxious for winter to be over. But, wishing doesn’t make it so. While flowers…

Better every year?

I’m nearly certain I’ll be pleased with the progress made in the garden in the past year, though I have little recollection exactly what changes were made other than a few (or a lot of) things were added and plants are a year older. I’ll be more certain once ephemerals, bulbs, corms, and rhizomes that…

Vernal witch hazels

Flowers of the largest of three Vernal witch hazels (Hamamelis vernalis, below) in the garden vary in color each year, from faded and dull to this winter’s yellow that will nearly match the brightness of the hybrid ‘Arnold Promise’ (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) that shows the slightest color as buds swell this third week…

Quite a commotion

Typically, I see no robins in the garden from late autumn until the period in February when temperatures become more mild, promising that spring is near. But today, in mid-January dozens jump anxiously from a large holly halfway across the garden to the edge of the forest, and back again, repeatedly. I wonder what is…

Planting in midwinter. Possibly

Unfortunate timing has landed a variety of native orchids, ferns and other minor treasures on the doorstep concurrent with the arrival of ten inches of snow. A week earlier, soil was chilled, yet soft and moist, but recent cold temperatures have frozen a thick crust which is now frosted by this cover of white. Dozens…