A chill in the air

There are excellent reasons to garden in an area with distinct changes of seasons, but that doesn’t mean I must be happy that nighttime lows are now falling regularly into the twenties (Fahrenheit). I prefer the milder temperatures of October, but my vote counts for nothing on this matter, of course, and I’m uncertain if…

That’s more like it

Until a few weeks ago, days were getting shorter, but not colder, so that autumn leaf color has not been much for folks in the area to get excited about until this week. I don’t get too excited about autumn foliage. I’m not very excitable, I suppose, but it’s more or less the end of…

In my younger days

I notice that dry stacked columns constructed from blocks of limestone have gone out of plumb after too many years of freezing and thawing. A couple columns remain relatively straight, but several aren’t, and I vaguely recall seeing this some time ago. Then, as now, I hoped that evergreen foliage would disguise the crookedness so…

Big leaves

Falling leaves of the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) are a significant event in the garden. Immediately, a widespread area of ferns, hostas, and a young patch of Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) are buried beneath a deep cover of the huge leaves, which will remain in place until decay begins in early spring. Other leaves are…

A change of seasons

Remnants of Hurricane Michael were hardly to be concerned about in this part of northwestern Virginia (except for another two inches of rain while areas nearby received three times this amount), but a breezy night as the storm exited was enough to dislodge many loosely attached leaves (and innumerable branches) of trees bordering the garden….

The colors of autumn, before leaves turn

While leaves are slow to turn with summer temperatures extending into October, the garden remains colorful with abundant blooms. Without a doubt, cold weather and colorful leaves will be here soon, but I’m in no rush to be rid of this unusual warmth.  While the pink blooms of Encore azalea ‘Carnation’ (above) are hardly my…

A splendid place to garden

The sheltering effect of shade is readily apparent in the garden following a dry week after a particularly rainy period. Fortunately, temperatures in this rain-free week remained mild, and again we are headed into a rainy spell (hopefully, a short one). The lack of extreme heat should preclude damage to plants that are pumped up…

Unauthorized clean up

The assistant gardener (my wife) has been home this week for spring break, and fortunately it’s been rainy until today when I came home to a trash can filled with a variety of clippings. I don’t dare dig deeper to see what’s beneath the ivies and periwinkle that she is always welcome to snip away…

Too close to winter

I’ve just returned from a delightful week along the Gulf Coast with daytime temperatures around eighty and few signs of autumn anywhere, much less of winter. I have nothing against winter, except that I’d rather it not be winter, though the cold is clearly necessary to grow the plants I treasure. I stepped off the…

After the freeze

A single twenty degree night changes the garden. A day before, coneflowers (below), azaleas, camellias (2nd photo, below), and toad lilies were flowering despite repeated frosts and a light freeze a few weeks ago. After this freeze, flowers remain, but in an altered state that shows effects of the cold. While some extol the beauties…