Tag Archives: winter garden

In A Vase On Monday – Color Burst

In A Vase On Monday – Color Burst

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

A snow storm passed through Thursday, flattening most of the daffodils. I picked a few for a vase today but actually I had a different flower in mind to feature. I planted 100 Anemone De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’ last year and disappointingly only 5 or 6 survived. The first bloom emerged from the snow unscathed. It opened Sunday and I designated it star of today’s vase, pairing it with hellebores.

Anemone De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’

In A Vase On Monday – Color Burst

Modest in size the anemone was nearly overwhelmed by its taller and bulkier companions but I liked the rich color palette the hellebores added.

In A Vase On Monday – Color Burst

The shorter hellebore in front is Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ and the taller one at back right is Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

The white/green with pink touches is an unnamed hybrid.

Helleborus x hybridus With Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

Materials
Flowers and Foliage
Anemone De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF
Container
Porcelain Ikebana vase, Georgetown Pottery, Maine. Triangle Black Wave (6.5 W x 6.5 L x 2H)

In A Vase On Monday – Color Burst

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week.

Late February Garden With Snow

February Snow Feb 20, 2020 5:18pm

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.

Hellebores beneath Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

Narcissus have been blooming several weeks.

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

The advanced growth of foliage on this patch of iris surprised me.

February Snow -Iris

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.

February Snow -Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake)

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.

Meditation Circle Feb 21, 2020 8:30am

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.

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake)

Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake)

 

In A Vase On Monday – Cream To Green

In A Vase On Monday – Cream To Green

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

A dreamy creamy Hellebore, one I have featured before, called my attention again this week. This hybrid purchased from Pine Knot Farms in Virginia in 2016 has been magnificent this season.

In A Vase On Monday – Cream To Green

In A Vase On Monday – Cream To Green

Now that the plant has been in bloom for a few weeks it is interesting to observe how the early ivory buds open to reveal green at center and on the outermost petals before maturing to delicate green.

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Materials
Flowers and Foliage
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Container
Blue ceramic mug with botanical design

Helleborus x hybridus

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week.

In A Vase On Monday – Golden Cheer

In A Vase On Monday – Golden Cheer

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden encourages us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

Large-trumpet golden King Alfred daffodils ushered in early spring this past week just in time to be smacked down by rain and wind.  I gathered a generous bunch to share in a vase this week.  Many of these were resting on the earth so it made sense to salvage as many as possible and restore a modicum of dignity to these regal flowers.

In A Vase On Monday – Golden Cheer

In A Vase On Monday – Golden Cheer

Materials
Flowers
Narcissus ‘King Alfred’
Foliage
Container
Straight-sided glass vase

In A Vase On Monday – Golden Cheer

After a stormy week in many parts of the world, I hope everyone is safe. Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the globe. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In a vase this week.

Part Of A Landscape

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Singer and songwriter James Taylor grew up in Chapel Hill, exploring as a child the wooded banks of Morgan Creek before the land along there was developed and fashioned into suburbia. He references this place in his song “Copperline.”

Speaking with Rolling Stone in 2015, Taylor said: “This is another song about home, about my father, about a childhood that was very peaceful, which is a rare thing today. I felt like I was part of a landscape in those days – the trees, the streams and the rivers, the animals that lived there.”
Songfacts. Retrieved February 8, 2020.

During my college days at Carolina, Taylor’s unique voice was a constant in our dorm, as roommate, suite mates and I sang and danced along. I can easily place my freshman self right back at his concert in Carmichael Auditorium, listening to bittersweet sound of “Fire and Rain,” cheering the spirit of his “Carolina In My Mind,” and believing him when he sang “You’ve Got a Friend.”

It was Carole King’s lyrics of this last song that set me thinking down this path this morning, “Winter, spring, summer, or fall.” Our weather is more likely to be “winter, spring, winter, spring, summer, winter, summer, fall, actually summer again, eventually fall, just kidding–summer…” and that is just during a two-week period. It was winter here again at early morning, 27 degrees F. with frosty coatings atop the grass and plants in the garden.

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Another line from “You’ve Got a Friend” rang true as well this week: “If the sky… above you should turn dark and full of clouds.” The past few days here were marked by fierce rain, wind and tornado warnings. The river birch easily gave up stray branches all over the yard, the garden sank below standing water for a while. Some trees were down, lots of neighbors lost power, but we were spared. I righted new pots of hellebores that were blown over from a spot where they have been patiently waiting to be planted. If it will dry out a bit I can see that happening soon.

Hellebores

Hellebores

After several weeks of cautious peeking, Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ and ‘King Alfred’ had finally begun opening earlier in the week, just before being battered by rain

Daffodils In The Rain

Narcissus

Fortunately daffodils are as resilient as they are bright and cheerful.

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

Winter daphne is beginning to exhibit tiredness and a few of the flowers have begun to fade. The intoxicating fragrance was heightened earlier in the week when temperatures reached 70s, but was not detectable early this cold morning. The sky at 9 a.m. was rich with blue, but gloomy gray clouds descended soon thereafter and hung over the day.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Planted last May this perennial seems poised to flower: Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’. I am anxious to see how it performs but it does seem to have made a too early appearance.

Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’

Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’

I planted over a hundred anemone bulbs in the borders last year. They are very short-lived in my garden but a disappointing number, most in fact, failed to live or show up at all, perhaps victims of squirrels and voles. Now a few extras that I had stuck into plastic pots and tucked among some other plants have emerged the past few weeks. The flower heads are tucked down. Blue or white? Anemone De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’ or A. St Brigid ‘Mt Everest’, which one survived?

Anemone

In A Vase On Monday – Hellebores and Brass

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden encourages us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

It was beautiful and sunny yesterday with temperatures in the low 60s. In contrast Friday was rainy and so cold sleet glanced off my windshield for about sixty seconds when I was driving home after teaching an afternoon yoga class. Welcome to North Carolina where we frequently remind each other if you don’t like the weather just wait a day. It will change.

Hellebores continue their reign over the garden this week. It has become challenging to find a new way to present them. I considered floating some in a shallow dish, but chose instead to stage them without water at all, tucked into a brass sculpture created by my husband years ago. Visible in the background is a second taller sculpture and a box of paperwhites about to rebloom from last year.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Materials
Flowers
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Foliage
Paperwhite narcissus
Container
Brass sculpture

No hellebores were harmed in this production. Soon after being photographed they were safely returned to a small vase of water.  I have had good luck keeping hellebores in vases for a week or more this year.  That has not always been the case, but I have not treated them in any special way.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In a vase this week.

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Flowers In A Mug

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Flowers In A Mug

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden encourages us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Flowers In A Mug

Walking though the garden I can almost hear plants murmuring, barely able to hold back their energy and excitement. Daffodils buds are beginning to show color but none have opened. Yesterday I discovered a fat bud on a bearded iris–the first Iris germanica to appear so early.

But the week belongs to Hellebores.

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Flowers In A Mug

The flowers are served in a large pale yellow Fiestaware soup mug and photographed on the back screened porch in remnants of the late afternoon sun.

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Flowers In A Mug

Several sprigs of fresh silvery-gray Artemisia foliage is tucked underneath the blooms.

Artemisia and Hellebores

Individual faces capture my heart. Some blush.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Some have freckles.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

This one is elongated with two green petals accented in pink.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Materials
Flowers
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Foliage
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Container
Fiestaware Jumbo Soup Mug

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

If one can have a favorite it has to be this white double. Creamy and pure, with triangular petals, and unfortunately the least prolific, it was purchased at Pine Knot Farm in Virginia in 2016. I expect the plant will continue to bulk up each year.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Winter Garden

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

After some very cold days this week with lows around 26 and highs in the 40s, today feels much more moderate, overcast with high of 65. Despite the cold spell Daphne odora (Winter daphne) still scents the air deliciously but the foliage has yellowed a bit. There are two Daphnes planted in front of the house. A variegated one, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata,’ succumbed suddenly a couple of years ago.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

More hellebores are opening around the garden. Some I bought and planted 18 years ago, some were a gift from garden club friend, Vicki, about 2006. In February 2016 I added a few more specialty ones from Pine Knot Farms in Virginia that seem to open later.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Daffodils are primed, cautiously holding back. Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) is waking.

Narcissus With Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Boughs

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Boughs

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden encourages us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

After unseasonably warm (but wet) weather in January, Sunday night lows plunged to 25F. I have seen a clump of yellow daffodils blooming in my neighborhood. None of mine have opened but there are a few buds.

Daphne odora came into full bloom this week and outdoors any excuse will do to walk by the deliciously scented shrubs. For today’s vase I gathered several large stems to feature.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

A few hellebores just starting to flower were selected also to contribute soft color and form.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Bits of fresh verdant foliage—arum, camellia, and columbine—were added for contrast and texture. The greens serve also to conceal the candleholder adapter filled with florist’s foam.

In A Vase On Monday – Winter Boughs

Materials
Flowers
Daphne odora (Winter daphne)
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Foliage
Arum italicum
Container
Glass Candelabra

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

January Awakenings

On January 4, 2020 little tight hellebore buds were tucked in close to the earth. I just checked on them yesterday and they seemed content to stay hidden.  Today they have awakened.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Yesterday the lemony scent of daphne odora drifted through the air and with today’s breezes the effect is more pronounced.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Foggy Morning Musings

It has been ages since the time when I wrote nearly daily blog entries here at pbmGarden. The goings-on in my garden are still going on, often are photographed and frequently, posts are conceived and begun, only to become abandoned for other priorities.

But the after-holidays have provided a bit of respite and this morning I had a chance to wander out into a mist of fog. First stop just out the front door our river birch beckoned. It was 47 degrees at 9:00 a.m. heading up to 67.

River Birch On Foggy Morning

By the front steps Winter daphne bides its time. Each year once I have detected daphne’s pink buds, I become anxious for the appearance of white blossoms and fragrant perfume.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Near the front sidewalk an enterprising insect architect had been busy fashioning a pyramidal model.

Ilex cornuta ‘Carissa’ (Carissa Holly)

Ilex cornuta ‘Carissa’ (Carissa Holly)

Ilex cornuta ‘Carissa’ (Carissa Holly)

Temperature and rainfall measurements have been all over the place since late October. There have been dark days, wet ones, cold, brisk and sunny ones and a few, balmy. Off and on during this day weak sun broke through for a short time and the sky tended toward blue before settling back into dull whitewashed gray.

I stepped across the street into the neighborhood’s park for a few more photos.

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

The trees were filled with birds but I could not make out what kind, nor could I grab an image. I watched them dance from branch to branch and listened to their songs and maybe that was enough.

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning

Returning home I paused at the front garden to note Iberis (candytuft) planted 18 years ago still manages to if not thrive, survive; whereas, in the meditation circle and other spots in the back gardens it is very short-lived. It is an attractive ground cover even when not in flower. I do not know what is different about this one, not sure of its name. Others I have tried are Iberis sempervirens ‘Alexander’s White’  and ‘Purity.’

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Nestling up to the Iberis is visually delicate Aquilegia canadensis. This native columbine is tough despite its dainty look and remains green most of the winter. Leaves sometimes take on a charming purple-red hue.

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Through the years columbine has helped itself to new locations all around the yard. Recently I have learned to call it a useful ground cover and feel much better about it.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Are you enjoying a lull in your normal routine? Hope the days bring whatever you need, bustle or calm.

In A Vase On Monday – Holiday Cyclamen

In A Vase On Monday – Holiday Cyclamen

Each Monday from Rambling In The Garden Cathy invites us to share a vase assembled from materials collected in our gardens.

My garden club visited a member’s greenhouse during the first week of December. Although Katydid Greenhouses displayed a multitude of poinsettias, cyclamen are what I prefer for decorating with during the holidays.

Katydid Greenhouses

Fortunately there were plenty of cyclamen in varying colors from which to choose.

Katydid Greenhouses

For today’s offering I combined four cyclamen from that field trip with a few Green Trick Dianthus that caught my eye at the local grocery. I finished the arrangement with a few decorative baubles—red seedpods, glass ornaments and ribbons.

In A Vase On Monday – Holiday Cyclamen

Materials

Flowers
Cyclamen
Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’
Foliage
Cyclamen
Philodendron
Container
Silverplate Bowl and Tray

White cyclamen are my favorite but this dark pink was too appealing to leave behind.

In A Vase On Monday – Holiday Cyclamen

In A Vase On Monday – Holiday Cyclamen

Yesterday’s view of the meditation circle and garden was a snowy winter wonderland.  Fortunately I managed to get all my bulbs planted early in the week. I hope they’re settled in and enjoying a nice chill.

December Snow

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Winter Tracings And Seeking Inspiration

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?

 

Fragrant Daphne

Early yesterday morning I caught my first whiff of Daphne odora.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Just beginning to flower, the three shrubs are planted along the front of the house near the driveway. They have grown in together and appear to be one large Daphne. One of the three is D. ‘Aureomarginata’.

The cold winter and heavy snows this year severely damaged the foliage and buds. From the street side they look terrible, but the portion that backs up to the porch was more protected and will make a nice, if limited, show. And the fragrance will certainly be enjoyed.

Daphne odora (Winter daphne) protected by the overhang and proximity to the porch

The temperature yesterday reached 81° Fahrenheit. Today’s high is predicted to be 41°. I do not talk to my plants but if I did I would encourage them to “Be strong and courageous!”

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Wednesday brought a second winter snow to Chapel Hill and this time there was no messing around with a couple of inches. The garden was graced with spectacular 9.5 inches of snow. By Sunday the snow was nearly gone and the day was a pleasant 67°F.  

Snowy Beauty – On Thursday the sun returned.

The starting point for today’s vase was a piece from a large, broken branch of crape myrtle, a 3-inch circumference victim of the heavy snow. The crape myrtle wood is red and smooth and after the stark white snow it seemed especially appealing.

Crape Myrtles suffered damage from heavy snow.

I decided to sacrifice a stem from a salmon-colored phalaenopsis to set off the polished red bark. Unfortunately the portion of the crape myrtle branch that prompted this choice, the part that was interesting and colorful, was also much too thick and heavy for me to use.

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

I ended up with a couple of branch tips that serve valiantly but lack the innate beauty of the red bark.

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

Still I like the richness of the flowers against the gray stems. And outdoors in the garden, tucked deep within cold-touched gardenia shrubs, I found several sets of lush green leaves to fill out the design.

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

Materials

Flowers
Phalaenopsis (moth orchid)
Foliage
Lagerstroemia (crape myrtle) branch
Gardenia jasminoides
Vase
Porcelain Ikebana vase, Georgetown Pottery, Maine. Triangle Black Wave (6.5 W x 6.5 L x 2H)

In A Vase On Monday – Color In Winter

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Six Years In A Blink And Waiting

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

Promising myself to work toward renovating the garden,  I launched pbmGarden with an initial post on January 7, 2011.

Undoubtedly, making a public commitment in an online journal helped me stick to a few of those early improvement goals.  The labyrinth and meditation circle is one achievement from that period.

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

In the intervening six years plants, plans and even enthusiasm for gardening have cycled through high points and low.

An unexpected benefit stemming from penning that first garden entry has been receiving the support of gardeners from many corners of the world. Entering the wonderful community of garden bloggers has been a joy. I thank you readers for your kind comments, helpful advice and generous spirit, all of which have led to genuine and cherished friendships.

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

Snowy View Of Meditation Circle

Today the garden is decorated with a winter coat of white, just a couple of inches of fine powdery snow, though six to eight inches had been predicted. The smaller amount is cover for a treacherous icy layer beneath.

For those of us living in this area, temperatures are extreme, as this forecast illustrates:

SAT SNOW AND SLEET 27°F/ 8°F
SUN MOSTLY CLEAR 27°F/ 1°F
MON PARTLY CLOUDY 31°F/ 16°F

The exact numbers keep changing but frigid cold promises to make traveling the little winding curving roads leading out of my neighborhood dangerous to nearly impossible for the next few days. In the fifteen years of living here, snow plows have come through only once.

Normally I would not mind waiting it out but this has proved a particularly frustrating and disruptive weather event, affecting a planned all-weekend activity and threatening an important appointment for early Monday.  Deep sigh. Deep sigh. Deep sigh.

Lessons learned from walking this meditation path are more valuable than ever today.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Snowy Meditation Path

Snowy Meditation Path

A Hellebore Festival

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

A week ago my friend and I travelled 70 miles north into southern Virginia to attend a hellebore festival at Pine Knot Farms (PKF).

I learned of this event a few years ago when the hellebore nursery owners, Dick Tyler and Judith Knott Tyler, spoke at a local garden club meeting. The couple holds this open house annually for three weekends in late winter, obviously the time when hellebores are in season.

Two years ago I had attempted to visit Pine Knot Farms but my travel plans were thwarted by an ice storm. So when after a fundraiser event last spring my friend ended up with two gift certificates for PKF, I jumped at the chance to try again to visit this nursery.

Weather in February is particularly variable and unpredictable. This year our trip seemed threatened again.

A week before the festival started, another big snow and ice storm arrived.  Fortunately the ice cleared up quickly though and the day of our visit was picture-book lovely, deep blue sky, sunny and temperatures in mid-60s F. [Where I reside in piedmont North Carolina, people are used to this back and forth kind of weather, often remarking they like living in a place where they can experience four distinct seasons of the year, sometimes all in one day.]

We arrived at the hellebore festival in the late morning, about an hour after opening, surprised there were not larger crowds. We parked easily and were directed toward the greenhouses.

At the first greenhouse we were quickly ushered in and greeted by friendly smiles, shown coffee and cookies.

Hellebores-Pine Knot Farms

Hellebores-Pine Knot Farms

Next we were given guidelines about where to find each category of hellebore: seedlings on this table (some from their friends Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne at Northwest Garden Nursery), other vendors offering spring ephemerals here, all PKF singles in the back set of greenhouses on the left, PKF doubles in the greenhouse on the right (or vice-versa).

Already by this time, just hearing these directions, I was overwhelmed and I think my friend was as well.

In anticipation of this trip I had tried to prepare myself by looking on PKF’s website at the categories of hellebores they sell: Hellebores species, Interspecies Hybrids, Helleborus x hybrids, and Northwest Garden Nursery Hellebores. But despite this minor research and later during the trip, despite several engaging conversations with willing and knowledgeable staff, I was hesitant about how to sort out the differences among the hellebores being offered.

Many of the hellebores were not yet in bloom and later we wondered if our choices would have been made easier by visiting the third weekend of the festival rather than the first. Perhaps more flowers would have been open and that would have made it easier for an hellebore novices like us to decide.

Hellebores Near Entry Table at Pine Knot Farms

Hellebores Near Entry Table at Pine Knot Farms

I wish I had just pointed to some of the flowers floating in dishes and asked for them, but in the end it all went fine. Even though we never found hellebore enlightenment we had a good time exploring the offerings.

Before I could get started shopping for hellebores, I became distracted by other vendor tables, including one with a beautiful array of Cyclamen coum. There was also a nice display of primroses in bloom and affordably priced, but I decided to concentrate first on the hellebores. I do regret not picking up a few of these cyclamen.

Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum

We made our way into the back greenhouses. Along the route there were a few other temptations, in particular daphnes and a really nice edgeworthia.

Doubles - Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Soon we were carrying around pots of hellebores. A white double with greenish overtones was the first plant I chose. I also found a single with a greenish cast.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose) -double

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose) -double

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Below is another single that was especially charming. The green coloring with tinges of red/pink reminds me of apple.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

I selected other hellebores in Golden Sunrise and Apricot Blush color ranges. The apricot blush is not yet blooming but the golden sunrise has two flowers.

Helleborus Winter Jewels 'Golden Sunrise' -Hellebore Orientalis

Helleborus Winter Jewels ‘Golden Sunrise’ -Hellebore Orientalis

One color I was especially interested in acquiring was dark purple. I had already picked up one of these Black Diamonds without a bloom. When I asked about finding others the man I spoke to said he and others had been commenting that this year the darks are scarce.  He accompanied me back to the seedlings table to help me search.

Helleborus Winter Jewels Black Diamond (Hellebore Orientalis)

Helleborus Winter Jewels Black Diamond (Hellebore Orientalis)

While we were talking he stopped suddenly having spotted this little plant, also a seedling. He suggested it was unusual and I might want to buy it because of it unusual marking. I did.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

One useful tip he offered was that it can be more successful to gather ripened seeds and toss them where you want new plants, instead of transplanting the the little seedlings that spring up on their own.

Eventually my friend and I settled on our purchases.  She generously shared a gift certificate with me, making check-out time a lot less painful. Back in Chapel Hill we discussed hellebores over a late lunch.

Unfortunately I did not get a picture of her plants before we parted; however, within a few minutes after returning home I was photographing my new plants on the front porch.

Hellebore Purchases From Pine Knot Farms

Hellebore Purchases From Pine Knot Farms

Serendipitously, a neighbor stopped by my house, opened her car trunk and lifted out two Bearclaw hellebores she had dug from her yard that morning for me. A nice gesture.

Helleborus Foetidus (Bearclaw Hellebore) from my neighbor

Helleborus Foetidus (Bearclaw Hellebore) from my neighbor

Visiting the hellebore nursery made for a fun expedition and I was happy at the chance to expand my collection. Hellebores are winter-flowering wonders.

 

Early Sunday Morning

Sleet and frozen rain on Friday was followed by snow on Saturday and snow is an Event around these parts.

Now Sunday, the first rays of sun touched the meditation circle at 8:30 a.m. this morning. 28°F (-2°C).

Sun Returning To Garden

Sun Returning To Garden

A half-hour later sunlight found the garden’s back corner and began waking up the landscape.

Early Sun On Icy Garden

Early Sun On Icy Garden

Though it looks deserted it actually is filled with avian friends just waiting for me to close the upstairs window and let them get on with eating.

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Eastern Bluebird, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal and many other species are visiting the feeders this winter.

Yesterday they were desperately focused on food and were less worried about me taking their picture.

Winter Birds

Winter Birds

Notice the Eastern towhee under the left edge of the feeder with its black head and back, rufous sides and white breast. It is normal to have one or two Eastern towhee in the garden, scratching and foraging along the ground, and occasionally checking out the feeder.

This weekend I was surprised to see a much larger group of them, maybe 8-10. At every chance they abandoned their traditional rummaging and went for the easy food.

And what is a collection of towhee called, I wondered? A “tangle” or a “teapot.”

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – January 2016

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

It is time again for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), but everything along the East Coast except for bird feeders is shut down for the weekend, courtesy of Winter Storm Jonas.

Predictions for here in Chapel Hill were for 4-6 inches of snow, but in early afternoon we are getting freezing rain and sleet, 29°F (-1.6°C). Conditions were not bad when I went out to get the newspaper this morning and snapped several photos, but now most of the grass is white and roads are icy and dangerous.

Foliage Day Panorama 2016-01-22

Foliage Day Panorama 2016-01-22

I am using panoramas to help me study and evaluate the structural elements in the garden. So many trees and shrubs have died and I am making plans to tackle a plan for improvements. Thanks to Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for hosting. Read her foliage update and see more links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.

Mid-January Garden

Today, Saturday, was a beauty of a day here in Chapel Hill with sunny skies and pleasant temperature of 61°F (16°C). In contrast, forecasts call for rain and maybe even a snow flurry Sunday morning and unseasonably cold on Monday with highs only in mid 30s and low 18°F.

Just after the grass was cut yesterday another heavy rain started falling. The ground was completely saturated again this morning.

Freshly Mown Grass Beside Meditation CIrcle

Freshly Mown Grass Beside Meditation CIrcle

I stitched together a panorama capturing most of the garden as it appeared around 8:45 a.m. looking westward from the top of the screen porch stairs. Sunlight was just reaching into the tops of the trees; the garden was still shaded.

Garden Panorama 2016-01-16

Garden Panorama 2016-01-16

About an hour later I had a chance to inspect the borders more closely. With leaves caked in mud this poor hyacinth, alternately enticed by days of warm sunlight and bashed by rain and cold, is the only one of its group to open. Others are up, but remain in tight bud.

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

By this time of year it is not unusual to have Hellebores in bloom; however, despite the many warm days this winter they do not seem to be opening very quickly. There are lots of buds.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) is spreading far and wide. Fortunately it is easy to pull out when it oversteps its welcome.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I planted Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge) last spring and am happy with its color and form. Still covered in raindrops it seemed to be dancing in the morning light.

Euphorbia 'Shorty' (Shorty Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge)

Last winter was unusually cold and long and a late February 2°F cold snap ruined the leaves and buds of Daphne odora (Winter daphne) before it could flower. It eventually recovered its foliage. This winter it has already been blooming for several weeks. There are 3 bushes clustered together. This one in front is Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata.’

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Pansies are blooming throughout the meditation circle, but the plants themselves have not grown much. In spring they should fill out more.

A female Northern Cardinal was one of many birds happy to find the feeder has been restocked.

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Late February Garden Report

This Eastern Bluebird is perched on the folded tip of the juniper next door.

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

A heavy wet snow overnight transformed the winter garden.

Snow Dressed Garden

Snow Dressed Garden

Once again the birds are scurrying back and forth between feeders and favorite perches.

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Surrounded by draping branches of ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress, a Northern Cardinal waits patiently on a redbud branch while the Eastern Bluebirds take a turn at the feeder.

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Looking below and to the right of the cardinal, the green clumps on the ground are Hellebores. Here are the same ones seen looking more colorful yesterday. This collection of Hellebores in the garden’s southwest corner were among the last to bloom.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Speaking of hellebores, I highly recommend this new video from a well-known, North Carolina-based nursery: Hellebore (Lenten Rose) Production at Plant Delights Nursery. Owner Tony Avent explains how he grows and selects Hellebores to sell at his nursery.

Fortunately with a high forecast of 37 °F today the snow is already beginning to melt, but winter refuses to leave. Low temperatures for the next 3 nights: 26 °F; 18 °F; and 12 °F.  There are broken branches in the neighbors’ yards and lots of bent branches and shrubs in the back garden. Out front the Crape Myrtle pair have once again been damaged. The crushed one on the left had make such a nice recovery too, after having been flattened by a freakish summer wind shear several years ago. The tree on the right lost a lower branch this time.

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

This bird flew up into the bottom of the feeder two or three times before finally landing on the feeding perch. I wonder if it was trying to shake down the seeds toward the front or was just beating itself up over this weather. Spring is coming, spring is coming, spring is coming…

Avian Antics

Avian Antics

February Snow and Birds

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

This is my 500th post!

Snow today was a big surprise this morning when my husband brought me a cup of coffee and opened the window blind. Some parts of the US are measuring snow in feet this year, but we had about 3 inches—maybe 3-5 inches more tomorrow night.

Most schools in the area cancelled classes due to unsafe road conditions. The local garden club follows the school schedule for inclement weather, so our monthly meeting was also cancelled today. That left my morning free to enjoy the snow falling and watching the birds vying for position at and around the feeders.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

I had to run out first thing to fill both feeders, which have been quite the popular hangouts lately.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

It is frustrating to try to get good images of the birds with my camera but there was such a gathering of species I could not resist trying. This video gets off to a slow start, but eventually shows a few of today’s visitors, starting with an Eastern Bluebird.

An Edwardian Lady’s February

A number of years back my daughter and I attended a nature journalling workshop at the nearby botanical garden, where we were first introduced to the lovely detailed drawings and observations of Edith Holden’s Nature Notes For 1906.

The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady

The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady

Holden was a 35-year old artist and illustrator living with her family at Gowan Bank, Olton, Warwickshire, when she meticulously crafted this month-by-month collection of poetry, flowers and wildlife. A facsimile of her diary was published years later in 1977 under the title, The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady.

A year or two after the journalling workshop my daughter surprised me with a copy of Holden’s diary as a Mother’s Day gift. While reshelving some books I came upon it today and as always, once I opened it up I could not resist the wonders within its pages. The watercolors are charming and in general I have always been intrigued with artists’ sketchbooks.

I decided to look up February to see what this month had been like in 1906 for the naturalist.

February Illustrated

February Illustrated

I was surprised to see a lovely little sketch of Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus), something I had only yesterday learned about through a photo on Gardening Jules. On February 12 Holden noted she had gathered some Gorse blossom on her way home from visiting the violet wood. That does sound splendid.

Common Gorse

Common Gorse

And while I have been indoors and overly obsessed with the weather lately, she recorded this entry for February 24.

Cycled to Packwood through Solihull and Bentley-heath.  I passed a rookery on the way, the Rooks were all very busy building yup their old nests, and a great deal of chatter they made over it.  I saw a little Robin gathering materials for its nest, at one place on the bank and further on, a Thrush with a beakful of long straws. Everywhere the branches of the Willow bushes were tipped with downy white balls and the Alder-catkins were shewing very red. In the garden of Packwood hall adding the church years the borders were full of large clumps of single snowdrops. I brought away a great bunch.  The farmer living there brought out a little lamb to show me, one of a family of three born that morning. I held i in my arms and it seemed quite fearless—poking its little black head up into my face. Rode home seven miles, in a storm of sleet and snow.

February entry

February entry

While I merely opened the window to take a quick picture through sleet and snow, she actually cycled home in the storm seven miles. (In common with her though I have noticed several American Robins checking out things the past week!)

With many blogging friends writing about snowdrops and after seeing catkins used in flower vases, I realize there is so much more contained in the pages of this journal than what I have gleaned before. After a few years of following blogs I have more context for seeing and understanding Edith Holden’s world. I am looking forward to reading back through her observations.

Aspen Catkins, Purple Willow, Goat Willow and Alder

Aspen Catkins, Purple Willow, Goat Willow and Alder

There is something decidedly unique about seeing Holden’s work on paper. Still, I wonder if she would have also considered keeping a garden blog.

____
Holden, Edith. 1977. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, 1906: A Facsimile Reproduction of a Naturalist’s Diary. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.