Tag Archives: winter gardening

Garden Therapy

A bit of garden therapy put a spring in my step this afternoon. I saw a breathtaking display of hellebores a few days ago at a local garden center, but I left without indulging, telling myself the plants were much too extravagant.

I remained unconvinced. Nearly every hour thereafter visions of those flowers popped into my consciousness bringing regret.

Now I feel better.

2020 Lenten Rose (southern states)

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’ has large forward-facing flowers. Emerging leaves have pink veins.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Frostkiss™ Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus Honeymoon® ‘Vegas Nights’ is described as having slate gray to dark purple blooms. Unlike the other purchases this plant had only one flower, maybe a couple more buds. Hope to see more grayish sepals in the future.

Helleborus Honeymoon® ‘Vegas Nights’

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC® Champion’ ‘COSEH 940’ PPAF is covered in plenty of creamy flowers with pink accents.  These hybrids come with complicated names and I wonder if this tag is really correct. In searching the web for more information, COSEH 940 is most often referred to as ‘HGC Camelot’ and ‘HGC Champion’ is associated with COSEH 730.  Hmm!

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC® Champion’ ‘COSEH 940’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC® Champion’ ‘COSEH 940’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC® Champion’ ‘COSEH 940’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF has pink buds which open to white flowers brushed with pink. They become deeper pink as they mature. Foliage is described as blue-green. I bought two of this plant.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ PPAF

Helleborus x b. Gold Collection® Merlin PP#22350
Helleborus x ballardiae ‘COSEH -810’ PP#22350
Outward facing light pink to pink flowers mature to a deep cranberry. Very dark green foliage with dark stems.

Helleborus x b. Gold Collection® Merlin PP#22350

Helleborus x b. Gold Collection® Merlin PP#22350

Do something nice for yourself today!

In A Vase On Monday – Anniversary Five

In A Vase On Monday – Anniversary Five

On January 14, 2014 I began creating weekly vases and participating in a popular ritual called “in A Vase On Monday.” Hosted by Cathy at Rambling In The Garden, “In A Vase On Monday” has intrigued and enticed people across the globe to share some flowers, foliage, berries and branches plucked mostly from their gardens.

But before I was in the know about it, Cathy had already been building a community of floral enthusiasts for months. This week Cathy is celebrating the Five-Year Anniversary of her first Monday vase posting. I cannot thank her enough for providing this unique coming-together of garden bloggers. Mondays are made better seen through her eyes, with Cathy-style plants, props and commentary. So thank you Cathy and Happy IAVOM Anniversary!

In A Vase On Monday – Anniversary Five

To mark her fifth anniversary Cathy challenged contributors to create a (Not) In a Vase on Monday this week. Every idea I came up with for presenting my flowers seemed to still need a container. So I am sneaking in a vase while declaring it is I who cannot be contained. I cannot contain my enthusiasm for this last collection from the garden, picked before our first dip below freezing. Though I gathered some sasanquas just in case, there were plenty of other colorful choices to use instead today.

A few pristine Shasta daisies seem to defy the season. I plucked them first.

Dahlia and Shasta Daisy

Next are pale yellow button chrysanthemums just coming into bloom, passalongs from my mother’s first cousin, Virgie. She shared many, many of her plants with me and I have had them now for a good part of my life.

Chrysanthemum and Shasta Daisy

Button Chrysanthemum With Shasta, Purple Coneflower and Begonia

My uncontainable enthusiasm though mainly is reserved for the Jackmanii clematis, whose large purple blooms always bring a smile to my face—especially so in November. I envisioned them cascading beyond the vase and they more or less achieved my vision. Arum leaves dance in proximity on the right side of the design.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ and Arum Italicum Add Drama

Purple Blooms of Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Button Chrysanthemum (Hardy Chrysanthemum passalong from Virgie)
Dahlia ‘Fireworks’
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Leucanthemum superbum ‘Becky’ (Shasta Daisy)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Arum italicum
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Ceramic Urn Stamped “Vintage 4”

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

In A Vase On Monday – Anniversary Five

Again, happy anniversary and 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 the other wonderful contributors have found to place In A Vase On Monday.

For even more flowers see all my Monday vases: 2018   2017   2016   2015   2014

After Five

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Five years ago today my initial pbmGarden entry, Garden Regeneration, began with these words.

The garden has been neglected the last few years. Too many frustrations: deer, noisy surroundings, drought, and life’s distractions. Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting.

I began a garden blog on January 7, 2011, as a way to document some planned renovations, while also establishing some post-retirement discipline for myself. I never imagined at the time how much enjoyment it would bring.

Because of writing pbmGarden I have watched more closely the cycle of seasons, listened more keenly to bird song and call, and felt sincerely the friendships of readers from many parts of the world. I am glad you are part of my life and I thank you.

The perfect garden has proven to be elusive, but it is easy to spend a good day in the garden and to know a peaceful moment.

Fooled by temperate weather in December and despite below freezing temperatures this week, hyacinths are bursting forth with color. The weekend is expected to be very warm again and wet.

Hyacinth orientalis

Hyacinth orientalis


In January I usually write a review of the previous gardening year. I am starting with images of my Monday vases from 2015.


Everything Is New

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Recently my yoga teacher suggested the class think of the phrase everything is new as we moved through the poses. The idea was to pay attention to every aspect of each asana as if we were experiencing the posture for the first time.

I brought home the phrase to use with my garden. Adopting everything is new will not require starting over with new plants nor throwing out accumulated knowledge from my few years of gardening.  The phrase simply inspires me to pay attention without overthinking everything.

Observe. Take time to notice.

Everything is new reminds me to focus on the joy of being in the garden and experience gardening anew.



Sunshine and Weeds

Today was ideal for being in the garden, even if the task at hand was to weed a long strip along the fence on the north side. It was sunny, temperatures in low sixties and peaceful—no mosquitoes, no air conditioners running yet and only one neighbor mowed his lawn.

There is nothing new blooming at this time, but the daffodils continue to add brightness and cheer.





Recently there have been some very windy days, sending drifts of lemony fragrance around the yard from the Daphne odora (Winter daphne) The Winter daphne has been blooming for weeks. Most of the flowers are browned, damaged by cold weather, but the delicious scent lingers.

Daphne odora  (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

Progress in pulling weeds today was slow as I have injured my left hand and doctor’s orders are to rest it and not lift more than a few pounds. The hand seems to be improving, but slowly. I could not waste the beautiful day so I weeded with the other hand. This was highly inefficient but it allowed me to enjoy being in the garden, thinking garden thoughts.

One thing I contemplated is where are all the early spring plants I added last year? There is no sign that Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebell) will return—I think it should coming up by now. It was among a group of natives I added to the garden last March. From that group at least the three Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) and three Phlox divaricata (Eastern Blue Phlox) have survived.  Others which I believe likely did not make it are Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold), Geranium maculatum (Wild geranium), and Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot). There is no sign either of Polemonium ‘Bressingham Purple’ (Jacob’s Ladder), which was crushed by a neighbor’s broken pine tree mid-summer. I hoped somehow it was tough enough to rebound.

It is too early in the gardening season to be discouraged I think. Tomorrow should be another nice day for gardening. With plenty more weeds awaiting, there should be ample time to ponder the fate of these lost plants and to work out how to fill the void, yet again, left by their absence. Better still, perhaps the plants will turn up.

Welcoming March

Sunlight greeted the garden this March morning, pulling an Iberis inflorescence out of shadow as February slipped into history.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

A blue-violet Hyacinth opened this week, one of only two remaining from an impulse planting a decade ago.

Almanac and Mulch

Clouds are moving in this afternoon and temperatures will remain cooler than normal, but at least rain is out of the picture for a few days. When I began a project at the beginning of last month to mulch the garden, little did I know we would have rain for 14 of February’s 28 days. And it was cold. What I estimated would take a week is dragging on, although progress is visible and the effort actually has been enjoyable. The driveway had been hidden by 14 cubic yards of double-shredded hardwood mulch, but at this point the remaining pile seems almost a minor detail. There is still a lot of weeding and trimming to do in the back.

Looking Around

The mulching project has afforded me a chance to notice the garden’s earliest plants waking up.

Powerful Wings

A Bald Eagle flew over the garden today. What an enormous bird and, in the true sense of the word, awesome. The Jordan Lake EagleCam is currently monitoring a nest with one chick at nearby Jordan Lake.

Assessment and a Few Garden Chores

The sunny, warm, 53-degree day made it seem imperative to accomplish some chores in the garden today. Having missed, well ignored, the fall cleanup tasks lists that gardening columnists wisely reissue annually, it must be acknowledged that the garden’s many plants are begging to be trimmed and tidied. It had been nice though to leave some things for the birds to enjoy and for adding extra visual interest when December brought unusual amounts of snow.

Lavender and Artemisia, June 2006

Trimmed back both an English Lavender and an artemisia (‘Powis Castle’) that overrun the stepping stones each year (shown here in June 2006). A few sections of lavender that had a good root system were optimistically tucked gently into some pots on the patio.

Echinacea and Canna, June 2006



Cut back a stand of shasta daisies and several echinacea (purple coneflower). Removed the browned stalks and leaves of both the canna and the wild ginger that live along the southern garden path.  The canna and echinacea are shown here as they looked in June 2006.

Wild Ginger, October 25, 2009



The wild ginger blooms were significant during September-October 2009, but not this past year, nor the preceding three or four years. Its flowers though were so fragrant and strikingly beautiful during that one time, there are no plans to abandon the wild ginger.

Daffodils Emerging, January 19, 2011



Daffodils are shooting up out of the earth today. When did that happen? Actually, seeing the inch or two of green pushing though the soil this morning was the impetus it took to push this garden’s caretaker outdoors this mid-January day.  The temperature made it up to 60 degrees by late afternoon.



Winter gardening projects, some light (as today’s were), some serious, offer opportunities to assess the garden’s strengths and weaknesses. Assessment is a valuable exercise if this garden truly is to be redesigned and rejuvenated this year.