March 15, 2009

moving ..

hi .. i just wanted to let anyone know who would like to continue reading this blog, that i have moved it to my new website: ..

thanks for reading

March 1, 2009

a trio of hazelnuts ..

i was recently asked if i could write a bit about hazelnut trees .. the person who asked said she was always so taken by the catkins that cascade down from slender stems .. sounds so poetic, somehow ..

i can remember catkins on trees from when i was a little girl, living on the prairies .. i didn't know the names of the trees, or even that the hanging clusters were called 'catkins' ..i learned that later on in my life .. catkins .. an essential aspect of the winter flowering garden ..

my more recent experience with hazelnut trees and catkins was with phil .. i must have walked into his yard more than a hundred times without even realizing the trees were there .. then, one late december, early january day, phil introduced us .. he took me to see a trio of spindly, yet graceful small trees growing along the side of the golf cart shelter, on the boulevard .. their branches were adorned with catkins .. he said the trees probably wouldn't do very well, as they were overshadowed by a towering maple .. not enough light .. nonetheless, he loved that they were there as they are, indeed, among the hardy entities of the winter flowering garden ..

now, years later, as i watch for them, it seems one day they are not there, and the next time i look, they are .. poof .. another pleasureful display of magic .. catkins stretching out .. loosening .. transforming into fluffy cat tails ..

and then, miracle of miracles .. miniscule flowers at the tips of buds ..

the trees produce a few nuts, as well, although really it is the presence of the catkins and the tiny red flowers that make the biggest impression ..

January 16, 2009

january flowers ..

the other morning, clothed in a multitude of layers, with scarf, hat and gloves covering my extremities, loading up my wheelbarrow in readiness for heading down the road, i was suddenly struck with a curious wondering about how other people might view me as i head out to garden in -1 degree celcius weather .. (with humour, hopefully) .. not that it really matters .. i mean, there aren't many other gardeners on this island venturing out in, what is to us, frigid weather .. most are content to stay indoors until things warm up a bit .. understandably so .. but not me .. this time of year, particularly, i'm so excited to get out and see how everyone over in the winter flowering garden is doing .. after all, it's been more than three weeks since i was last there .. so much has happened .. temperature isn't really even a factor as to whether i'll go, or not .. i'm gone ..

naturally, my first task will be to clean up needles and a few errant maple leaves .. that's a given .. yet, once done, all the better to see the garden .. this was always my first priority when phil was alive .. as i saw it, he was the artist, the plants were the medium, and i was the brush .. it was important that he be able to see his creation .. so, i was always busying about, tidying up, raking, sweeping, cleaning the canvas so he could sit in his chair at the sliding glass doors, attached to his oxygen machine, and see how the garden was growing .. because you want to see this winter flowering garden .. it is a miraculous, growing, living work of art, whose initial intent was to bring colour to an otherwise drab, and dormant, winter surround .. and so, the main attraction for phil and me then, and for me now, is watching the picture appear .. and it comes .. slowly .. subtly .. through the decidious shrubs .. the witchhazels, the sarcacocca, the hazelnuts, the winter flowering cherries, and more .. and through the perennials .. the cyclamen coum, the hellebores, the primula, the mahonia, and more .. over the past three weeks, despite the snow, there has been a lot of growing going on, and as i walk over to the garden, the previous wonderings of my curious mind falling away behind me as i fill with anticipation for what lies ahead ..

although it's only a five minute walk from home, the change in atmosphere is tangible as soon as i step into the driveway .. suddenly, it feels like spring .. in this yard, plants are coming into bud, and even blooming .. the effect of their presence is astounding to me, even though i've witnessed it winter after winter for over 10 years .. i am immediately greeted by the witchhazel .. its crumpled up tendrils of yellow emerging from the tight buds of three weeks ago .. its fragrance wafts around me .. man, i love this garden!

and there's more ..

many of these cyclamen 'coum' grow beneath the witchhazel .. they come leaf first .. then, tight to the ground, wee little magenta buds show themselves, slowly lifting up on three inch stalks (like little soldiers, phil used to say) waiting until just the right moment to flower .. until then they are furled, like this one ..

and snowdrops .. who doesn't love these guys .. so sweet ..

here is a helleborus 'niger' .. a christmas rose.. it's the first of the different hellebores to bloom in this garden .. phil loved hellebores for their reliability in the shade .. we planted them all over the yard ..

this rhododendron is beginning to make its presence known .. big, fat buds .. i think it's rhododendron mucranulatum, but i'll have to check that to be sure ..

a mahonia, whose name i believe is 'charity' .. we have native mahonia here that grows closer to the ground .. this one, however, stands tall on a five foot stalk .. beautiful .. actually, there's a picture of one blooming, and covered in snow, in a previous post .. also fragrant ..

phil and i moved this witchhazel over to the fence where it tangles up with a winter flowering jasmine .. the jasmine doesn't really get the kind of sun it likes, but nonetheless, there are always a few brilliant yellow flowers mingled in with the rediness of this guy .. a wonderfull combination .. (it's working, phil!)

this witchhazel grows by the back of the house .. i believe his name is 'arnold's promise' .. a bright lemony yellow with a citrusy fragrance .. he comes just a bit later than the 'pallida' of the first pictures ..

another kind of hellebore .. foetidus .. the stinking hellebore, although i've never found it offensive .. i love the greenness and roundness of its flower buds ..

a close up of the winter flowering cherry (prunus subhirtella 'autumnalis') although not a very clear picture .. hopefully, i'll get sharper as the flowers open .. such a soft pink on this one ..

here's sarcacocca 'humilis' .. it's so delightfull that it has berries and flowers at the same time .. they contrast beautifully with the green of the leaf .. the berries are actually red before they reach this deep maroon colour .. the tiny dangling flowers are full of fragrance .. another wafter ..

and, i discovered this little fungi growing on the inside of one of the half oak barrels that line the driveway .. i almost mistook it for a very moldy cedar needle, at first ..

having been witness to these early january wonders, i look forward to what will greet me next week .. more magic, no doubt ..

January 5, 2009

into our third week of snow ..

i'm feeling a bit antsy .. i'm happy for having the time off from gardening, however, i'm also looking forward to puttering around again, getting a sense of what's been growing over the past three weeks while the snow's been here .. in the winter garden, in particular, a new season is beginning .. before long, the atmosphere will be spring-like there .. flower buds are already expanding .. soon, i'll be greeting old "friends" i haven't seen for a year .. imagine, if you can, a winter flowering garden .. let's see .. it's january now .. who will be the first to show ..

hmmm .. think i'll go for a walk ..

December 26, 2008

random snow thots ..

i'm sitting here, listening to jack johnson's 'sleep through the static' .. i've only recently been introduced to his music and lyrics .. i'd heard reference to 'banana pancakes' a couple of times during conversations, as though it were a code of some sort .. not knowing jack's music, i couldn't begin to understand .. then, i heard 'in between dreams' and there it was .. 'banana pancakes' .. take a break .. leave the busyness of your immediate world and pause .. sigh .. relax in knowing all you need is right here, right now .. ah, banana pancakes .. i get it! .. i simply hadn't thought it in terms of pancakes .. well, who is to say what words need to be used to refer us to the present moment .. where "we have everything we need .. and everything we need is enough" ..

makes me think of christmas .. when is all we have enough .. this year, as in many past, i observed that the spirit of christmas has slipped from the heart to the pocketbook .. sad, really .. sad that we humans get so caught up in buying to fulfill perceived needs .. sad that children have come to believe that getting more stuff (adding to the mountains already accumulated over such a short time on the planet), is somehow fulfilling .. i feel sorry for us .. in my own random thots, it occurs to me that we are way off the track .. heart to pocketbook is a drastic shift in consciousness .. not to say that it is "wrong," because who is to say what is wrong or right .. i tend to think of it more in terms of spans of time .. as in, it took a span of time for us to get where we are now, i wonder what span of time will pass before we get back on track .. being here, now, where everything we have is enough ..

christmas is so not a now situation .. at least, we've built it up to such a disproportion that as soon as hallowe'en has passed, we are being prompted to think about christmas, about those we love, and about how we have to spend money to demonstrate that love .. money equals love ..hmmmm .. i'm not sure i'm convinced on that score .. however, i don't mean to bore you all with these seemingly disgruntled philosophical ramblings of my own mind re the spirit of christmas .. on the flip side, i observe that there is a more intensified love between us during this time of year .. in my own experience, my heart seems to open a little wider to include people beyond my immediate scope .. i drop a few more dollars in a busker's hat .. help more elderly cross the snowy road .. smile more .. i am more aware that love is demonstrated in a myriad of different little things i do .. but is it christmas that brings out this sensitivity to love .. or would it be here regardless .. could it be here regardless of the season .. perhaps it is always here, now .. maybe we just aren't .. yet ..

i believe we are on our way .. may we glide gently into the new year ..

December 23, 2008

a winter wonder land ..

right now, we're enjoying a winter wonder land here .. it's quite an unusual occurrence for us to have over a foot of snow on the ground (not sure how many centimeters .. lots) for any length of time .. this year the snow has been falling for over a week .. that's unusual, too .. often what happens is we get a big dump, and then it rains .. not so this year ..

the walk to and from the ferry now means stumbling along the ruts previously made by others with vehicles .. trucks and cars, mainly, as likely, golf carts would just get hung up on the snow between the ruts .. so, getting around is a bit different for us .. in town, it's a whole other ball game .. there isn't really enough snow removing equipment to make much of a dent in what's graced the island .. however, i think, things could be so much worse .. for this, and for what's occurring with the weather in other places on the planet these days, we can be thankfull ..

in all of this, i am feeling a little bit smug .. as a gardener i am out and about, puttering around in some fashion, in some garden, on any day that it isn't pouring down with rain, or blowing up a storm .. now that the ground is covered in white, there isn't really anywhere to garden .. and so i sit .. and i read .. or i knit .. or i get up and bake .. i've had so much time at home that i managed to get christmas gifts made, packed up and shipped out to varying places in the country with time to spare .. and still i have time to sit, and read, or knit or blog or not .. it's such a pleasure, really, and every winter in times of snow i get more comfortable, in myself, with just sitting .. and reading .. or knitting .. or whatever else suits my fancy .. i am revelling in my non gardening time .. how lovely ..

oh, and i get outside at least once a day .. because i can get cabin fever after a few hours of being inside .. i take my camera and off i go .. if i can't be out there gardening, then i can be out there taking pictures of gardens under snow .. someone has to do it, i suppose ..

December 4, 2008

winter flowering magic ..

below is a photo of helleborus niger flower buds .. this is the first of many different hellebores that will bloom in this winter .. hellebores were one of phil's favourites for the garden because they are able to tolerate varying amounts of shade and, of course, because they bloom during winter months ..

i attempted to get a good close up of one of the hellebore's buds .. i wish you could see it the way i do ..

and, i've been watching this witchhazel (hamammelis intermedia) for a few weeks waiting to see just what i'm seeing here .. this crack of colour is stunning .. what a performance this one is starting to put on for us ..