Tag Archives: photographing nature

Celebrating Spring

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

To celebrate the first day of Spring yesterday, we went headed to nearby Durham. First we viewed a photography exhibit at the Nasher Museum of Art on the Duke campus and enjoyed lunch at the museum cafe. Next we went to see early spring flowers in the Italianate-styled terraces of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

The beds here are planted with annuals and bulbs. Last year when we visited these gardens the tulips were just past their prime and this year we were early. Still there were many pleasures to behold whether looking close-up at the plants or taking in the long views.

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

The day was partly cloudy and I felt a bit cool, that is until we met a woman from Indiana who told us she had left home the previous day in 9°F. weather. She and her daughter were wondering the name of these eye-catching blooms. I had admired this plant earlier and was able to identify it as Anemone (Anemone coronaria ‘Lord Lieutenant’).

Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant'

Anemone coronaria ‘Lord Lieutenant’

Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant'

Anemone coronaria ‘Lord Lieutenant’

Anemone ‘Rosea’ (Windflower) was also striking.

Anemone 'Rosea' (Windflower)-Duke Gardens

Anemone ‘Rosea’ (Windflower)-Duke Gardens

Anemone 'Rosea' (Windflower)-Duke Gardens

Anemone ‘Rosea’ (Windflower)-Duke Gardens

At the bottom of the terraces is the fish pond, a favorite spot of small children and and grown-ups alike. To the right of the pond was a wonderful Witch-hazel.

Working our way back up the terraces, one planting I particularly admired was this mix of daffodils and orange tulips.

Tulips and Daffoidls-Duke Gardens

Tulips and Daffoidls-Duke Gardens

Daffodil-Duke Gardens

Daffodil-Duke Gardens

Tulip-Duke Gardens

Tulip-Duke Gardens

There were many Erysimum (Wallflowers) interspersed with tulips in the beds. Since most tulips were not open we will have to return to see the full effect. One combination of Erysimum with a salmon-pink Hyacinth was lovely.

Erysimum 'Jenny Brook' (Wallflower)-Duke Gardens

Erysimum ‘Jenny Brook’ (Wallflower)-Duke Gardens

Wallflower and Hyacinth-Duke Gardens

Wallflower and Hyacinth-Duke Gardens

Hyacinth-Duke Gardens

Hyacinth-Duke Gardens

Sweet William is an old-fashioned flower that I just love.

Sweet William and Tulip-Duke Gardens

Sweet William and Tulip-Duke Gardens

These were pretty flowers but I must have been distracted before locating the plant label. Anyone know what they are? [Update: Thanks to both Cathy and Malc for the quick ID of these. This is Bellis perennis, a perennial lawn daisy.]

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens

I imagine it might be April before the Wisteria Pergoda at the top of the terraces blooms. Another reason to visit this garden again.

Wisteria-covered Pergola-Duke Gardens

Wisteria-covered Pergola-Duke Gardens

Our spring celebration continued last night at North Carolina Botanical Garden Director Peter White’s presentation of the natural history of Robert Frost’s poetry. Robert Frost visited Chapel Hill for many years to give readings in celebration of spring and walked the woods here. His knowledge of plants is evident in his poetry as White illustrated during his talk.

A Bit Of Summer and Winter

Hibiscus, Ft. Myers, Florida

Hibiscus, Ft. Myers, Florida

I travelled to the Gulf Coast of Florida this week for a very brief family gathering. While I was away this area had a light snow—the first one this winter and I missed it!  Except for a touch of white along the shady side of the road, the snow had disappeared by the time I returned home. As consolation the weather in Florida was beautiful and there were lots of colorful Florida tropical plantings, including Hibiscus, Begonia, Croton and a gorgeous shrub with red clusters of flowers I have since identified as Ixora coccinia.

A quick walk around my garden today revealed a scary number of weeds cropping up in the soggy  flower beds. I pulled at a few of them but will have to make serious time to deal with them soon.

After the snow the Hellebores which began opening a week ago appear no worse for the wear. A small patch of Sweet Alyssum seems perky and fresh.

Along the back fence one of a small pair of Italian Cypress trees was leaning heavily into the other. It seems odd that the snow would have done that and I think pesky moles/voles are the culprits. I straightened the tree and tamped down the soil, hopeful the tree has not been damaged.

Near the front of the house Winter Daphne has begun to open slightly, releasing the first drifts of its delicious lemony fragrance for lucky passerbys to enjoy.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)-4

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)-4

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)-4

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)-4

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Early January Notes

During my frosty morning walk the sun had just begun to peek into the meditation garden, illuminating the burgundy and green hued leaves of this Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue).

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A very few orange gardenia hips have recently appeared on the ‘Chuck Hayes.’

A patch of Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum) from summer surprisingly has withstood the cold nights. This delicate-looking annual is reputed to be cold hardy (and heat tolerant), but probably Its location near the foundation of the house is giving it some extra protection.

Lobularia hybrid 'Snow Princess' (Sweet Alyssum)

Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum)

Hellebores are not as early in blooming as last year, though I did find a few fattening buds. Camellias continue to bloom and provide sweet fragrance. Several Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) flowers are visible but nothing to compare with last year’s early and prolonged display. Weeds are cropping up around the beds, especially the rather invasive Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress). The garden is overdue for a few heavy maintenance days.

Finally, one plant I noticed and photographed during a recent arboretum visit was Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Little Imp’ (flowering maple). Native to Brazil this shrubby mounding plant begins blooming in spring and still carried a quite a few of its little lanterns on the last day of December. The red calyx (or group of sepals) surrounds the yellow flowers to form its little lanterns.

An Arboretum In Winter

On the last day of 2012 my husband and I visited one of our favorite gardens and a local treasure, the ten-acre JC Raulston Arboretum in nearby Raleigh.

After many gray and rainy days we were ready to be outside. Though blue sky is visible in this picture, the day was mostly overcast and the temperature around 47F made for a chilly walk. Initially the garden seemed more stark than I had expected, yet there were many interesting discoveries as we strolled along.

Winter View At JC Raulston Arboretum

Winter View At JC Raulston Arboretum With Columnar English Oak And Variegated London Planetree

Founded in 1976 by the late J. C. Raulston, Ph.D., the garden is part of the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University. As described on its website “the Arboretum is primarily a working research and teaching garden that focuses on the evaluation, selection and display of plant material gathered from around the world. Plants especially adapted to Piedmont North Carolina conditions are identified in an effort to find better plants for southern landscapes.”

One benefit of walking through this arboretum is that plants are usually well-labelled. On our way toward the Winter Garden we encountered an interesting specimen. A plaque indicated this Quercus robur f. fastigiata (Columnar English Oak) was the first tree Dr. Raulston planted at the arboretum and it is now over 50 feet tall. The layout of the arboretum has been redesigned over the years, but the tree stands at what was the original entrance to the garden.

Quercus robur f. fastigiata (Columnar English Oak)

Quercus robur f. fastigiata (Columnar English Oak)

The oak is still holding its brown autumn leaves. “Unlike many fastigiate (upright) tree selections, this form of English oak was found growing wild in a forest in Germany and was propagated by grafting in 1783. Most acorns from the tree will form columnar trees.

Just to the right of the English oak is a Platanus x hispanica ‘Suttneri’ (variegated London planetree) with its showy white bark.

Platanus x hispanica 'Suttneri' (variegated London planetree)

Platanus x hispanica ‘Suttneri’ (variegated London planetree)

A closeup look at a lower branch of the London planetree reveals the patchy greenish-gray variations and interesting bark texture.

Branch - variegated London planetree

Branch – variegated London planetree

Among the many blooming plants we encountered were Edgeworthia, many different kinds of Camellia and Japanese Flowering Apricot, Quince, Snow drops and Hellebores. A special delight was the Iris unguicularis (winter flowering iris) tucked underneath a shrub. (The Edgeworthia nor any of the plants looked as unfocused in real life as some of these images suggest! Click on an image for larger images in a gallery view.)

The Winter Garden was brightened by the use of yellow in the form of Mahonia flowers, berries (yellow-berry Chinese holly) and the variegated leaves of Golden Spangles camellia.

Winter Garden Entrance

Winter Garden Entrance

Click on an image for larger images in a gallery view.

We saw just a fraction of the Arboretum on this trip, but having visited there many times we knew the Winter Garden was an appropriate section to explore that day. Heading toward the exit we passed again the weeping forms that greeted us upon our arrival near the new entrance. The trees here are marvelous in other seasons but winter highlights their framework.

Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’ (weeping bald cypress)

Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’ (weeping bald cypress)

Albizia julibrissin 'Ishii Weeping' (weeping mimosa)

Albizia julibrissin ‘Ishii Weeping’ (weeping mimosa)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis 'Traveller' (weeping Texas redbud)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Traveller’ (weeping Texas redbud)

Why I Garden

As 2012 ends, I complete a second full year of WordPress blogging. I cannot express how much I appreciate your visits to pbmGarden. Thank you for taking time and interest in my little backyard garden retreat, for offering your friendly support and for sharing your ideas and expertise so generously.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower) October 4, 2012

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower) October 4, 2012

I began planting perennials in earnest about 1996 in a very different setting, though not far from where I live now. A bit of beginner’s luck that first season strengthened my interest and now it is hard to imagine not tending a gardening. I still miss that first garden, which promptly was returned to lawn after we moved.

Since it no longer exists, not even in pictures, it is easy to idealize that garden, but I will always carry with me a deep satisfaction of one moment in time, almost a sigh really, when I surveyed the spring blossoms through dappled sunlight and felt the world just click into place.

That stop-time experience is what I will always be seeking in this garden. It may never be reached again but several times this spring I sensed that moment was close.

The tagline for pbmGarden is actually one I used for another garden blog between 2006-2009.

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

It comes from realizing the awesomeness of working and just being in a garden. Of guiding and being guided by the world of plants. Of noticing the restorative properties the garden bestows. Of being humbled by the whims of nature.

I just like the way I feel when I am in a garden. What inspires your interest in gardens?

Winter Daphne

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

The blushing reddish pink, fleshy flowers forming on Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne) are a cheery sight on this gray and soggy day. There are three of these low-growing evergreen shrubs planted along the front porch. By late January or early February each should be covered with white clusters of sweetly scented blooms.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)-5

Heavy rains that began Christmas night have saturated the garden. Three loud claps of thunder during today’s lunchtime downpour have set into play my father’s old saying, “thunder in winter will bring snow within two weeks.”  (Other versions of this folk wisdom bring snow within seven days!)

We do not get a lot of snow in this part of North Carolina, but I have known thunder and snow to coincide this way a few times, making the rare snow events even more delightful.

No snow in the official forecast. It is overcast and 46.2 °F on this day after Christmas.

A Hint Of Winter

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Frosty patterns on Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

It was cold during the night and frost was heavy on the ground when I entered the main garden early this morning. Icy formations accentuated leaf shapes and stem structures, lending elevated status to the humble remnants of the garden season just past.

In the meditation circle the frost’s silvery-white seemed to enhance the colors of the plants.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The textural contrast between hard red stepping stones of the path and soft mounds of thyme was made stronger by the thyme’s frosty coating.

Thyme in Meditation Circle

Thyme in Meditation Circle

The weather is warming again for the weekend and into next week high temperatures will be in the sixties, but today there was a hint of winter.

Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Last night the sky was clear for the annual Geminid meteor shower.  Despite street lamps and traffic headlights in our neighborhood we were able to watch meteors streaking through the sky. Awesome!