Flowers in the snow. Why bother?

I suspect that few gardeners are out today, stomping through ten inches of snow, except to rescue arching branches of evergreens from permanent disfigurement. Today is not ideal for surveying flowers in the garden, though the sun pokes through occasionally and the day feels warmer than the thirty-five degrees (Fahrenheit) that the thermometer indicates. Blooms…

Overnight snow

I am hearing of accumulations of five to eight inches of snow in the area, which is borderline, but just enough to cause concern for branches that are arching under the weight of the wet snow. Occasionally, snowfalls are accompanied by breezes that blow snow out of trees and shrubs, but today has been relatively…

So far, mild

Temperatures in recent weeks have been mild, not what I’d call warm except for a few days that hit sixty (Fahrenheit), but milder than usual for the first few weeks of winter. Certainly, I’m not complaining. I’m happy to live in northwestern Virginia, with no desire to move further to the south (as my wife…

Doing nothing

I prefer doing nothing, or at least delaying doing something as long as possible, sometimes even knowing that next year’s labor will be increased considerably as a result of my sloth. Long ago, and repeatedly, I’ve learned that winter weeds must be pulled before going to seed, or the next crop (usually ten or eleven…

A drab ending to a wet year

A single leaf identifies each of three Putty root orchids (Aplectrum hyemale, below) successfully transplanted. I suspect this has required no particular expertise, though I attempted as much as is possible to duplicate conditions of a local forest where these are scattered about. The leaf, only one per orchid, will persist through winter, but fade…

Potting seedlings

I am determined to pot up more of the garden’s seedlings next year to give away, in particular Japanese maples, hellebores, and toad lilies (Tricyrtis) that some gardener might find valuable. While these have become overly common in this garden, I do not forget that many were once obtained at a considerable expense. Certainly, all…

Standing sentry

There is no better way to stir the garden to life than to fill the bird feeder after it’s been empty for a few days in December. Bluejays are first to arrive, then a variety of smaller birds, though no cardinals yet this morning. Squirrels are beginning to move in, but retreat as a Red…

Quiet members of the garden in late December

In winter’s dormancy the gardener becomes more aware of less flamboyant  members of the garden, not only bark and buds, but also simpler plant forms. Damp conditions this year have been beneficial to naturally occurring bryophytes, mosses and liverworts that thrive in gaps between path stones, and also transplanted club and spike mosses.   

A warm December afternoon

Another inch of rain, and perhaps a bit more before the day is over as this unusual front of warmth departs. The high for the day was sixty-four, and with Friday the first day of my extended holiday break I was out in the garden every minute between storms. A short tour took me through…

Hey bud

In late autumn and early winter, flowers of camellias are seen every day that I can possibly get out into the garden, braving the cold. One day, a pink tipped white bud begins to show color as fully opened flowers turn brown following a twenty-three (Fahrenheit), or eighteen degree night. This cycle will continue for…

More rain

With each day of rain, browned leaves are shed that cling to nearly bare branches of the garden’s Japanese maples. Most years, leaves fall in a shorter period long before the start of winter, but this typical process was somehow interrupted, so leaves that have been raked and gathered to clear walks and patios must…

A bit of color

Several hellebores are showing a bit of color, though flower buds could remain in this state for another six weeks, and probably will. A time, possibly two, in twenty years the same hellebores began flowering the third week of December, with full bloom following shortly before the new year. As I recall, that early winter,…