Entries in winter garden (18)


Plants for Winter Blooms

Why in the world do we gardeners put in plants that bloom in winter? Why the obsession to find a spot of color against a gloomy landscape? I was asking these questions today when a bit of sunshine, after several overhung days, pulled me outside. The temperature was barely above freezing, a bitter breeze blew in my face, and the soil was soggy from recent rains. Nevertheless, there I was, bundled up, searching for those hardy blooms that braved the vacillations of an Alabama winter. Camellia japonica 'Red Candles' is a prolific winter bloomer, despite frosty air.

The fact is, many of us gardeners are greedy people. We want it all. We want a year-round paradise, if not in reality, at least in our dreams. Even northern gardeners who are snowed-in through much of the winter challenge the frozen land outside their windows. They hover around grow lights in the basement or bathroom, nurturing seedlings for a warmer season. They fill sunrooms, kitchens, and other living areas with green plants and pots of flowering tropicals, whose vibrant leaves and colorful blooms are remarkably beautiful against a backdrop of snow. 

As for me, today I needed to be outside, checking on things.Flowering quince, Chaenomeles, is a shrub whose flowers may persist for two or more months.Hellebores are up and producing flowers.This is another plant whose blooms may continue for several months.My garden in January is no paradise, but rather a panorama of bare stems and branches against a backdrop of evergreens. But I found occasional buds and blooms, and I was happy my garden included a few plants that dared to blossom in winter. Daffodils are just pushing up and beginning to form buds, and tea olives are filled with tiny white buds that will soon fill the arbor garden with fragrance.

Variegated Winter Daphne is also filled with buds that will soon open to fragrant blooms.

Distylium 'Vintage Jade' has many tiny red buds. When they open, they are reminiscent of witch hazel.

This Edgeworthia chrysantha bud is just beginning to open.

Another view of Edgeworthia buds. Yes, they feel furry!

Camellia 'Something Beautiful' lives up to its name.

Many of the Camellia 'Something Beautiful' blooms have fallen to the ground because of wind and rain, forming bouquets of blossoms on the earth. Fortunately, many more remain on the shrub.

I felt a hint of things stirring beneath the surface as I examined the blooms in my winter garden, and I am reassured that spring will come.


Finding Interest in the Winter Garden

The end of the year has come, and the garden seems to be covered with a gray shroud as gloomy clouds hover over a skeletal landscape. We recently had over six inches of rain within a couple of days. The sun has managed to break through a few times, however, sending me into the garden to stretch my legs and to breathe in the cool air. 

I don't mind winter. It is an opportunity to examine the bones of my yard and to plan future projects. And it presents a fun challenge to find interesting and beautiful images within the subdued garden:Despite the brown and gray tones, there is still plenty of green in the garden because of our many evergreens. The moss paths love all the rain we have had!

My peacock moss is going dormant. If I lived a little farther south, it would be evergreen.

Clockwise from top left: Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' still has its beautiful fall foliage; 'Snowflake' hydrangea has only a few leaves clinging to its stems; It's the end for these leaves; A single brown leaf has fallen into a winterberry shrub.

This stump seems to have an evil grin!

I use potted tropicals to fill in bare spots and to add color to the garden during warm months. We always bring them into my husband's office for the winter. (I keep hoping he will get tired of the greenhouse effect and build me a heated garden house!) Well, look what we found in one of the pots:

This little toad has dug a depression in the soil and is hibernating! I wanted to put him outside, but Lou has adopted him. I suppose we will release him into the garden when he wakes up in the spring.

Happy New Year!