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…

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…

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…

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…

Planning for spring, part 30

Winter has barely started, and no matter how anxious, already I’ve blown through the spring budget allocated for the thirty year anniversary of the start of this garden. Happily I suppose, money is not the issue, but space, though my wife is likely to quibble that both are problems. A year ago, a few extra…