Tag Archives: almanac

Early June 2014

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) Along the Southern Side Path

In the eastern border that sits against the foundation of the house, Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) has grown tall,  succeeding the Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) that bloomed here earlier. The red flowers should draw hummingbirds, as did the columbine.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) In The Eastern Border

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

In the western border of the main garden I have been monitoring the Chuck Hayes gardenias as they try to recover from the severe winter. One appears to be lost, but the others, despite showing the stress, will pull through

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Meanwhile, a couple of passalong gardenias on the north side of the house recently came into bloom without me realizing it. Rooted from cuttings by my former neighbor, these went quickly from little 6-inch stems to 6 feet tall shrubs. Most of the blossoms have brown spots and do not look very attractive, but even with only a few fresh ones, they all smell luscious.

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) grows in a pot on the patio. I cut it back severely in early spring, doubting it had survived the winter, but it looks healthy now.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) has been blooming vigorously for weeks and is attracting bees.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

In many spots around the garden clumps of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are primed with buds. Just a few have opened so far, mostly along the southern border. These are drought-tolerant plants but they do better in years with plentiful rain.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Also along the southern border Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is just beginning to flower.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Shasta daisies form a wall of green in a border near the back steps. They have seemed ready to bloom for a while now but are biding their time.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

At the edge of the shasta daisies is a nice combination of Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage) and English Thyme.

Salvia Dorada 'Aurea' (Golden Sage) and English Thyme

Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage) and English Thyme


This is the type of weather I used to wish for when I was a teenager visiting the beach: beautiful, bright and sunny—perfect for swimming and sunbathing, but not so wonderful for gardening.

For the last five weeks it has been terribly dry. Though some parts of this region had heavy precipitation, here in my garden during all of May there were only two rains, one so brief it seemed a tease. Again yesterday a thunderstorm formed overhead, then passed by without even dampening the ground or pavement. I have hand watered the garden a few times, but it desperately needs a good soaking that comes from some sustained, restorative rainfalls.

Happy Birthday Little Garden

This garden turned 13 on May 31.

I really have been letting the borders coast along this year. I have weeded and trimmed but have not done much planning or renewal. A few weeks ago I scattered packets of Bachelor’s buttons and zinnias to brighten several bare spots where several trees had to be removed. So far only a few seeds have responded to my benign neglect.

Anyway, whether it rains this week to encourage the zinnias or not, this garden is so much more. It has come a long way and it has brought me along. Together we have both grown. This quiet personal space I cultivate, cultivates and nurtures me as well. It is a peaceful retreat that brings a lot of satisfaction.

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle


Mediation Circle With Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' In Bloom and Fading Pansies

Mediation Circle With Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ In Bloom, Thyme and Fading Pansies

Early June Garden View Facing Southern and Western Borders

Early June Garden View Facing Southern and Western Borders


Icy Morning

Garden Under Ice

Sleet yesterday and overnight left the garden highlighted in white.

The sun has cleared most of this away now but we will not see our temperature reach near 60°F as is normal here for early March. Instead it is just barely above freezing, 33°F at 1:00pm. It certainly is much warmer than in many parts of the U.S., still though it will be colder than usual for this entire week.

The two trees at the center back against the fence I imagined were Italian Cypress, but I have concluded they may be Spartan Juniper. I do not know if the left one is salvageable after this rough winter. The pair had grown too close together anyway, already outpacing their estimated width.

Winter is hanging on a bit, but last Sunday was warm, over 70°F, and I think the grass is getting greener. Daffodils are ready with fat buds, waiting for a few nice days.

Garden Under Ice-Meditation Circle


Winter. Since the arrival of winter there have been incidents of fierce wind, record rainfall, record heat and record cold, not at the same time but within amazingly close proximity. Today the sun looks cheery but, at 36 degrees F., it is 10-15 degrees colder than normal for this time of year.

Last Wednesday a light dusting of snow fell all around us, but not a flake appeared in pbmGarden.

At this point in January last year a few daphne blossoms were open already, but they are not ready this year. Though many branches are brown-tinged from cold damage the three bushes are filled with clusters of buds, waiting.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Last year by the 8th of January Helleborus flowers were open, but today we are ten days past that mark.  A very few are displaying tightly closed, pink-tinged fat buds, but on most of the plants the flowers are just barely emerging at ground level.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

During this winter pause the garden is tugging at my conscience, but only a little. Oh, yes indeed—it would be a good idea to start tackling those weeds again, but like these flower buds waiting to open, I am happy to bide my time for now.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – December 2013

Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point' (Blue Point Juniper)

Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper).  Lavender is in left foreground.

Planted as a screening hedge several years ago this row of evergreens makes a nice seasonal focus in the garden.  The pyramidal-form trees are Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper). They need a nice trim but I have yet to figure it out precisely how to prune them.

[These junipers provided an opportunity for an abbreviated entry for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides.]

Today is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and a strange one here. I read the high today of 74°F shattered a record of 71°F set in 1967.

At a time of year when 52°F is the normal temperature, it was a treat to have meals on the screened porch and watch the cardinals at the feeders. And before it starts getting cold again, there is one more warm, but overcast, day ahead. The forecast for Sunday—77°F.



Long Night Moon

Full Moon: December 17, 4:28 a.m. EST

The last full moon of the year lingered in the early morning sky, lighting up the meditation circle as I looked out from an upstairs window.

Winter lies ahead but spring’s return is on my mind. With winter solstice just four days away, I am heartened to note the days become shorter just four more times before that trend reverses. Today the length of day will be 9h 43m 11s.  On December 21 it decreases down to 9h 42m 45s, then the day’s length creeps back up.

Frosty ice enveloped stems and leaves in the garden overnight accentuating the mounds of Thyme that form part of the labyrinth’s walls. The large hole in the foreground is damage from mole/vole activity. Solar-powered mole repeller stakes that emit a pulsating sound underground worked well this spring and summer to keep them at bay, but the devices do not last very long.

Thyme In Meditation Circle

Thyme In Meditation Circle

The Pansies and other plants that line the path of the labyrinth are stressed from the daily cooling and warming. With other parts of the country already besieged by ice and snow I am not complaining. It is sunny and almost 60°F. this afternoon and by Saturday the high will reach 70°F.

Viola 'Delta True Blue' (Pansy)

Viola ‘Delta True Blue’ (Pansy)

Rainy Sunday Musings

Warm and Sunny Friday

Two days ago the weather could  not have more different from today, as Friday was sunny and mild and today is not. The temperature Friday reached the high 70s, not high enough to set a record, but warm enough to beckon everyone to get outside. On that day we took in a lunch-time stroll around the nearby Botanical Garden (NCBG).

All fall at the Botanical Garden I have admired a large planting of Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry). The display of red berries has been very bright and long-lived.

Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry) at NCBG

Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry) at NCBG

The other thing that caught my attention that day at NCBG was an eastern North American native that reminded me of my childhood when Clark’s Teaberry chewing gum was popular. The plant is Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry). It is a low-growing evergreen with a wintergreen scent.

Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry)  Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry)-2

Earlier Friday, I had ventured out in my own garden with the camera looking for flowers. I found very little blooming but I did notice the last vestiges of the pass-along Chrysanthemums. How can it be that this flower could begin in November sporting yellow centers with pale white petals, yet as always, end up pink.

Nov 1, 2013

Nov 1, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

I have obviously sited the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea) in the wrong place. Trying to give it shade, it is tucked in so close to the fence between gardenias and behind a large spirea that it is mostly invisible until I happen right up on it.  Maybe that is not so bad to have a nice surprise. This little Ruby Slippers seems to be growing well and lives up to its promise of colorful foliage.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)-2 Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Last winter I ordered several kinds of Anemone coronaria and they were very late shipping. It was already very hot by their arrival time. Soon after I planted the bulbs I resigned myself they had all died, but I came across a few survivors Friday. Planted here are ‘The Bride’ and ‘Mr. Fokker’ and it will be exciting to see them bloom next spring (if in fact that’s what these are).

Anemone coronaria de Caen 'The Bride' and 'Mr. Fokker' -2 Anemone coronaria de Caen 'The Bride' and 'Mr. Fokker'


There was a chance of frozen rain today but we seemed to have missed it, with the temperature hovering at 34-35°F. The rain portion of the prediction was accurate.

Most of the day I have been sipping coffee and watching birds take turns at the feeders through the cold drizzle. There was so much activity at early morning that I took advantage of a momentary break in the rainfall to top off the seeds in the feeders.

Colorful red cardinals are equally beautiful against the green of junipers or against the brown stems of spirea or gray branches of dogwood. At mid-morning a pair of Eastern Bluebirds join in. A couple of Blue Jays showed up for a while, but did not dominate the feeders as I had expected.

Finding an opening, White-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos flit in to quickly grab a seed. Northern Flickers and Towhees peck through the underbrush of browned stalks and stems—remnants of perennials left around for winter.

Their pace has not slowed all day.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Rainy November View

The autumn has been dry but yesterday and today the rain has been steadily falling. Weather forecasts tease there is a chance of fleeting snow flurries. Temperatures last night after midnight were mid-60s but they have been falling during the day on the way to the mid-20s tonight.

Rainy Day November View

Rainy Day November View

Leaning out the second story window to photograph the meditation circle, I was hoping the bright red cardinals and various little gray and brown birds would venture back out from their hiding places where they had scattered when I raised the window.

None complied, so I snapped a couple of pictures, turned to the right and then it was my turn to be startled. Only a few feet away resting on the closest point of the fence was a huge hawk (guessing a Cooper’s Hawk). Too spooked to click the shutter, instead I pulled back inside. I was none too sure the hawk was not going to fly into the window. The bird of prey did not seem to appreciate that I had upset its stealthy plans and reluctantly moved on, but I realized at last why the cardinal and other birds had become stubbornly invisible and quiet.

The rain will end soon and tomorrow should be sunny, but cold. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Wherever you are, whatever your plans, enjoy a happy day of peace and gratitude.