February’s weather is reliably unpredictable and often messy. This past week is typical. There were a few bright sunny mornings but the sun was inconstant. What might have seemed reasonably warm temperatures were made bone-chilling by shifts to dull gray skies that released a see-saw of downpours and drizzle, culminating in a sloppy, wet snow yesterday (Thursday). The snow began falling mid-afternoon and I ventured outside just before dark.
Spirea branches, already in bloom, were covered in icy snow and dipping downward. Tucked deep underneath the shrub, groups of hellebores found some protection.
Narcissus have been blooming several weeks.
The advanced growth of foliage on this patch of iris surprised me.
Despite the curious common name of summer snowflakes, Leucojum aestivum began blooming this week in time for the snow. It is normal for these to appear this time of year. These came from my sisters’ garden about 5 years ago.
Snowfall ended by midnight. The sun shone brightly this morning revealing icy snow high in tree tops and a rich blue sky.
Around 8:30 a.m. a cold breeze stirred the chimes in the meditation circle, making the garden sing against the otherwise quiet hour. Birds were sheltered inside the large drooping spirea whose weighted branches touched the earth, forming a protective avian hideaway. They perched also in nearby trees, all waiting for me to finish taking pictures so they could resume visits to the freshly stocked feeder.
Much of the snow had disappeared by late afternoon and it is expected to be 61°F. Sunday.
A few days earlier, at eventide on Tuesday, I had braved the rain-saturated ground to walk the garden. Here are a few images from before the snow. This Iberis is such a delight.
The garden is in a fairly natural state this summer which seems to suit the pollinators just fine. Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon) creates a colorful swath along paths in the meditation circle.
Angelonia in blue, white, purple and bi-color bring vibrancy to the circle as well.
The paths themselves are overgrown with self-seeding Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) which I cannot bring myself to pull out. Even though the labyrinth is unwalkable in this condition the overall contribution of the cleome creates an effect in the garden that is magical.
Thymes planted along the paths are in bloom underneath the cleome.
A few more glimpses into the cleome garden…
Back to the pollinators, these happened not to have been found on the aforementioned plants but quite nearby. Here is Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’.
The garden was full of these skippers yesterday. This one is enjoying Echinacea.
Hope your gardens are teeming with blooms, activity and life.
As predicted, yesterday afternoon temperatures dropped. Rain turned to sleet and snow, quickly dusting and revealing the garden borders and meditation circle.
It is sunny this morning. The snow will soon depart, but the image leaves me contemplating why my garden design has become so stuck. I have not given it enough attention in recent years—I know that. But even when I was actively trying, I never dreamed big enough it seems.
I say that because recently my husband and I have begun watching episodes on Netflix of two British reality TV shows on landscape gardening.
One featuring Monty Don is titled Big Dreams, Small Spaces. In this series he visits lucky home gardeners, hears their goals and plans, makes suggestions, then returns once to check on progress, and a final time to reveal the results to his viewers and celebrate with a glass of champagne with the garden owners family and friends. By the end of the show the home gardeners have cut down trees, invasive vines and cleared rubbish; built walls, ponds, terraces and pathways; planted orchards, installed living walls and created multiple borders around their property all full of hundreds of English garden flowers in full bloom.
The other show is a bit of a tear jerker, but it is more interesting to me. Love Your Garden features horticulturist Alan Titchmarsh. This show’s premise has him going around the U.K. providing garden makeovers for deserving citizens. The garden owners are sent away for a while (exactly how long is not clear) while a team of experts comes in creates a garden customized for the owners needs and interests. I like this show better because there is more effort to introduce and describe the plants being used, money seems never to be an issue, and the labor it takes to do such projects seems more accurately portrayed. There are a few awkward contrivances, nods toward the reality show template that try to hype or to create drama, tension or humor—the show would be better without these distractions—but the episodes are full of information.
Both of these shows do a good job of showcasing public and private gardens where one can find inspiration for solving similar garden problems. Only one season each of these British shows are currently available, but I hope more will be released here.
While I am dreaming of a complete garden overhaul, I am curious what you think. Are you familiar with these garden icons? Do you study their books? Have you watched the shows? Where do you find inspiration?
Seven years ago, on January 7, 2011, I wrote my first pbmGarden article. Since that time I have been honored by your presence at my humble garden gate.
Initiated as a record-keeping discipline while I was working through some garden improvements, this blog has ended up being a source of deep personal satisfaction. You, dear readers, are the reason. As the garden grew, friendship sprouted. You have cheered me on with your own garden wisdoms and encouraged my efforts large and small.
We share a love of nature, we savor gardening moments, we find energy, solace and joy among the trees, birds and flowers. Through our gardens we are nourished.
It is a pleasure to have you visit. May our paths cross again soon.
Looking Back At 2017
Floral designs created for In A Vase On Monday were the majority of my posts this year, but there were some noteworthy moments in the garden itself. With emphasis on spring, my favorite time in the garden, here are a few favorites from 2017. Enjoy this quick view or click on a image to see the images full-size in a slideshow.