Colors in the winter garden

Last week the temperature soared into the fifties, and plans and visions of spring swirled through my head. Today winter returned with cold air and drizzle, and I am reminded it is still January. So this afternoon I decided to see what surprises the winter garden had for me, for there is always a surprise. Always.

Today it was color. 

First thing I saw was my Lady, of the Lady Garden. She is visiting the patio for the winter, for she is made of terra cotta and could crack during the hardest freezes. She is staying close to the house so I can bring her in easily when needed. She recently acquired a new hairdo of variegated ivy, because the charming woman was going bald as her hair of creeping fig went dormant. The Lady is a bright spot in the winter landscape.

Also on the patio is an old concrete planter that belonged to my parents. The side of it is covered with deep green moss. I like the pattern it makes.

The bluebird house near the Lady Garden stands out against the browns and grays of nearby trees and shrubs. I once read that bluebirds are attracted to the color blue. I guess it works, because each spring bluebirds nest in this house.

Another bird house sits in the herb bed. No bird has ever lived here, possibly because Lily, our dog, is in the fenced-in area just a few feet away. Or maybe birds don't like its artificial wood material. I do like the way it looks, although its pastel colors have faded. I will need to paint it soon.

The knockout rose bushes were frosted by our recent frigid temperatures, but amazingly, the shrubs still have leaves and vestiges of pink colored buds.

I did a double take when I saw the fresh colors of the false holly, osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki'. Could that be new growth?

I didn't wear gloves on my garden stroll today, and by the time I got to the woodland garden, my hands were frozen. But it was worth it. The nandina are really standing out now.

 I love the way their red berries and bright foliage look against the dark trunks of nearby trees.

The autumn ferns also look lovely against a background of nandina.

Spreading juniper 'Saybrook Gold' has beautiful gold tipped foliage. The woodland garden is one of my favorite places. I do a lot of editing, but I let nature run its course for the most part. I like the colors and textures of mosses and lichens, rocks, and decaying wood.

There are many shades of green in my woodland garden, and I am reminded to appreciate the subtle beauty that winter offers on a cold January day. 

When I ended my garden stroll, I went back inside the house and placed my icy hands against my husband's face. He immediately got the message and built a fire in the fireplace. Soon spring will come, but for now I am content to dream about it while I watch the crackling flames.

Stay warm, everybody!  Deborah

You might also like "A perfect day in November" or "Fall colors in my garden".


Wine country and the Columbia River Gorge

It was my birthday last August. Lou, my three sons, and I were touring parts of Oregon. We had departed the Oregon coast (See my last post, "Road trip - the Oregon coast") and headed inland toward Portland, traveling through the Willamette Valley, the heart of Oregon's agricultural country and including more than 200 wineries. We chose to stop at Amity Vineyards for a picnic lunch.  

In theory this sounds idyllic, and the setting, overlooking the spectacular vineyards and valley, certainly was. 

But we forgot about the bees! Vineyards need bees. Now, why the bees were so interested in my sandwich, when they had thousands of grape plants to pollinate, I don't know. But the pesky creatures wouldn't leave us alone, and I came close to swallowing one or two of the bolder ones. A note to Amity: a screened-in porch would be nice! We quickly finished our lunch and left the picnic area for the quaint red building housing the wines. Amity is noted for its Pinot Noir, as well as other great wines, and we spent some time tasting the selections before choosing the best ones to celebrate my birthday later that evening. My boys also gave me some of Amity's wine filled chocolates, which make my mouth water to this day, thinking about them.

We stayed in Portland for several days, exploring local attractions. One of the highlights of our trip was the day we spent traveling the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge loop. One of our first stops was historic Vista House, which offered incredible thirty mile views of the river and valley.

Columbia River Highway 30 took us through ancient forests and past several waterfalls, including the 620 foot Multnomah falls.

We spent the morning exploring the fern filled grottos of this enchanting area. After we ate lunch in the city of Hood River,we headed across the Columbia River into Washington. I took these photos of the Columbia River from our moving car!

After fitting our bodies into wet suits, life vests and helmets, we climbed into a rubber raft for a thrilling eight mile white water journey on the White Salmon River. The scariest part was when we had to portage around a section of white water deemed too rough for rafting. I found myself clinging to ropes hooked into the slippery side of a mountain and looking down at the boiling water below.

I gulped. I am not a young person.

Well, I had to keep going, because I surely could not go back. I was glad when I was once again in the raft bouncing over class III-IV rapids.

The end of the White Salmon river trip featured a twelve foot drop over Husum Falls. I wanted to do it! But the river guide discouraged us by graphic descriptions of bodily injuries suffered by folks our age. In the end, Lou, Josh, and I bailed out, and we watched from a bridge while Sam and Mark took the plunge. Thanks to Wet Planet Rafting for the following photos. My guys are in the front, and the river guide is in the rear.

We returned to Portland by completing the Columbia River gorge loop, featuring the Mt. Hood scenic drive.


It was a good day, a very good day. May all of you have such good days to come.  

This post is dedicated to fellow garden blogger Linda, of An Artists Garden, who is blessed to live in the Columbia River Gorge.