The gentlemen may well be resting and making merry but, never one to sit and twiddle my thumbs, I have suddenly found myself in the middle of another project. With only eight weeks until we open the garden again, it is not necessarily a sensible thing to be doing, but with a settled period of weather in the offing it was hard to resist, especially as the Golfer was very much up for the challenge. In fact, unusually, the project developed from an idea of his, a practical revision of the status quo, and began with stealing one of the cutting beds (above) and temporarily bagging it up (below):
Next, the greenhouse needs to be emptied, meaning the sitooterie, Coop and house will simultaneously fill up with the contents :
Christmas Day is due to be wet and no doubt I shall be giving myself and the garden a rest for the day, but have found myself reminded of the last occupants of this house, who purportedly spent their last Christmas Day together but apart, one dismantling an engine in the garden and the other doing who knows what – no chance of that here, just in case you are wondering!
Despite falling headlong into this project, there is still time for rambling and observing the garden as it continually moves forward at its own pace, so have been able to note the emergence of tiny shoots from pots of snowdrops I ‘twin-scaled’ last year, as the new bulbs slowly develop. I repeated the exercise this year, with less success, but still have the confidence to persist. What especially pleased me was that some of the bulbs twin-scaled were the sole and not pristine remnants of those varieties, like G ‘Mrs Thompson’ (below):
In the woodland, more of the named snowdrops are emerging too, and I must take the snowdrop map on my ramble
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If there is a lesson to be learned about the rose above, ‘Phyllis Bide’, it is not to overlook what is in front of your face. Planted outside the front door a few years ago to replace, on a whim, the bright pink ‘Pink Perpetue’, the bud that this bloom opened from must have been in evidence before I noticed the fully open flower on Thursday, but I hadn’t seen it. Not that I was expecting to see any roses in bloom halfway through January, although it does sometimes happen – and admittedly it tells me that this is a rose I had forgotten to prune when I did my climbers back in the late autumn! The front of the house is in full sun for most of the morning, so the sunshine that accompanied some bitterly cold days this last week has clearly given Phyllis a boost. Overall, however, she has still been outperformed by her predecessor, and needs to pull her socks up to justify her front-of-house position.
During the winter months many plants reveal subtle patterns, fine details, and a new range of colors that help us to see familiar beds and borders with fresh eyes. This is an excellent time to get outside, evaluate your garden’s bones, and make some plans for spring planting. In this episode Danielle, Carol, and their guest will explore some of the plants that fly a bit under the radar in winter months, but certainly deserve more attention. Do you have any of these underappreciated wonders in your landscape? If not, you may want to start digging holes as soon as the ground thaws to ensure that some of these unsung heroes get some well-deserved garden real estate. Will any of these winter beauties make it onto your wish list this year?
I feel sorry for gardeners who have no incentive to spend time in their gardens in January, especially on the more clement days like those we have had this week – with colder days due soon, however, it might be a matter of looking for tasks that can be carried out inside for a while! Now that the working greenhouse is up and running again (albeit currently sharing the space with the remnants of reconstruction and unpacked bags and crates) I can at least begin sowing seeds, starting them inside the house before moving them into the greenhouse upon germination.
Liatris spicata is one of my favorite perennials in my front yard garden. Commonly referred to as Dense Blazing Star, Blazing Star, and Gayfeather, my appreciation for this plant native to parts of North America, is well documented. Stems surrounded by vibrant, grass-like green foliage shoot up and form long tips covered in buds. Eventually, feathery, pinkish-purple flowers emerge, attracting bees and other pollinators. Then, as the flowers dry, they look like brown, fuzzy bottle brushes. That’s one of the reasons Liatris is high on my list: four-season interest. In this article, I’m going to share tips for planting Liatris, why I consider it to be a perfect perennial, and what not to do with it in the fall.
I have no idea what has caused this ‘flame’ in the garden, but perhaps it really does symbolise the heart of it. I was not aware of the flame while I was working in the garden today, removing and cleaning the bricks from the low retaining wall at the back of one of the bold borders, and it only became evident when I looked at the photos later. Looking at the wider picture, when there was about a third of the wall left to remove and clean, you can see that there is a glass sculpture in the border but, at the time the picture was taken, the sun (and it was a sunny day) was behind me and to my right, so it wasn’t shining through the glass. Curiously, as I perched on my makeshift stool, chipping away at the bricks with my lump hammer and chisel, I found myself thinking of earlier civilisations, chipping away with bones and stones to make their artefacts – so could I perhaps have been joined by ghosts from the distant past, huddled round their fire for warmth…?
Without a doubt one of the best parts about gardening in the Southeast is winters that are temperate yet still bring seasonality to the garden. I’m grateful that we don’t often get bone-chilling cold that lasts for days and weeks on end. Many gardeners in colder climates spend their winters waiting for spring. As gardeners in the Southeast, we can plan for vibrant gardens with winter interest in mind. For our purposes, we will define “winter” as December through February. For this article I will take you on a journey through the plants that are looking good in my winter garden in eastern Tennessee during these few months. I’ve made a note of the date I took the photo of each plant to give you a feeling of how the season progresses throughout my garden in the Southeast.
Working through winter tasks in the garden when time and weather align favourably, there are plenty of opportunities to look forward and back, usually simultaneously, such as with crab apple Malus ‘Evereste’. This sad, mushy state was pretty normal for M ‘Golden Hornet’, but the blackbirds have usually taken all the peachy crabs from ‘Evereste’ well before now, leaving me looking forward to the pretty spring blossom or at least to when I am able to remove the offending fruit. Even the red Christmas lights do little to enhance their ugliness.
As an experienced and respected professional florist, Róisín Godfrey has spent the last eight years working alongside some of the biggest names in the industry in the UK and Ireland, a career that has taken her to some of the most beautiful private houses, hotels and art galleries in the world.
When I moved to Michigan 13 years ago, I was excited by the endless plant possibilities afforded by my new Zone 6 location. Compared to the secluded 5-acre garden I had left behind in southern Minnesota, however, my newly purchased corner lot surrounded by houses and neighbors felt like a fishbowl.
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