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 ..