Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cloverleaf in the Winter - Part 2

Winter interest in the garden sounds like an impossibility in our area. But the longer I garden the more I find of interest in the winter. There are a few plants which actually bloom in the winter. We have a witch hazel tree in the medicinal garden and it blooms with small yellow flowers in February.
Aconite and some hellebores also bloom in winter.

It's also a good time to appreciate the form of plants - particularly trees and shrubs. Without leaves, it's easier to notice their shape and even the arrangement of branches. We have a red-twig dogwood growing in our side border. It's actually a multi-stemmed shrub, unlike the common dogwood tree. It has flowers in the spring, but they're not too showy. Now, however, without its leaves you can really appreciate the bright red stems-looks especially pretty with snow cover.

Woody stemmed herbs which do not die back are still attractive in winter. Lavender, thyme, rosemary,(all my second year plants which survived last winter are still going strong) santolina, sage,etc. provide interesting form and foliage. Plantings, like our knot garden and thyme walk, that depend more on their form rather than color or bloom, look just as good as in summer and stand out more against the quiet winter landscape. Echinacea flowerheads, which I let stand to feed the finches are attractive, as are sedum's dried flowers and the bare, bleached stems of russian sage. I let these stand through the winter and just cut them off in the spring as new growth emerges from the base.

Some things stay green or at least produce new growth under a top that has died back. Much of chamomile's foliage remains green, ornamental candytuft has evergreen foliage and there's new foliage underneath on burnet, costmary and St. John's wort. There's winter interest out there. It just doesn't shout at you like it does in spring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cloverleaf in the Winter

Hope you all enjoyed your holiday season and did not overeat or overspend. We had a great holiday. Lucy enjoyed herself-she got a new toy. She acts likes a kid does when obsessed with a new toy. She chewed on it for about six hours the first day - I actually think her mouth got tired. She ignored all her other toys and is just finally beginning to play with them again. But when John gets home, and she runs for a toy, it's always the new one. She is still on her hunt for field mice in the "wilderness area" at the back of our property. She dives on a spot with both front paws and buries her nose in the high grass, sniffing away. I'm sure any mouse in the area is long gone when it hears her bounding through the grass. Her tail wags like mad, so I guess she's enjoying herself.

The ice storms have been pretty and not too severe, so I guess we've been lucky. The last one encased each individual branch in ice and the red hawthorn berries and rose hips were each surrounded by its own icicle - very pretty. Late in the day it was kind of foggy-hazy. It looked like a painting with muted monochromatic colors. I do like the change in seasons. Winter has a scaled back, simplistic kind of beauty.

But, since I have started seeds and they have germinated into tiny little plants, it means spring is just around the corner! It's much easier to contend with winter when I can check the progress of the tiny herbs and flowers each day. I've started lavender "Lady" seedlings and the little plants smell just as fragrant as a full grown example. That's some good aromatherapy.

The shop is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9-5 through March.