A TASTE OF SPRING

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When I was out walking in the garden today I was admiring the camellias. They are the evergreen structure that forms the bones of the garden and they bloom to boot!

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daffodils in the Wordsworth meadow are up and some are already blooming   …… but

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the meadow was not cut last summer so there are plenty of weeds, and several trees and limbs are down. Victims of the  heavy saturating rains and strong winds of late.

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One of the first times I’ve seen the incredible flowers of the ‘evermottled’ ginger…….. blooming at ground level.  I have not often seen them as I’m hesitant to crawl around the garden on all fours when it is cold and damp. This one just jumped out at me.

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Spring is here again!

 

SASANQUA SEASON

I can’t believe it’s already autumn. Time flies, as they say. So here’s what is happening in my garden.P1230952

While my Northern garden buddies are cutting back perennials and putting their gardens to sleep… I am enjoying an embarrassment of riches in the way of Camellia sasanqua blooms.

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Some so profuse they look like cascading roses from a distance.

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Last fall I finally found the Camellia sasanqua ‘Cotton Candy’ a favorite of my dear late friend Margaret Moseley. It was one she had recommended to me many years ago when I first started my garden, but I was never able to locate it. When it starts to bloom I will post a photo. I know Margaret would be pleased. Still on the lookout for  Camellia ‘Martha’s Dream’ yet another of her early blooming favorites.

P1230956Camellia ‘Daydream’ which I rescued from a compost heap at a nursery. I followed the fragrance and found it. I have never seen it in the trade before or since. Of course the first time I saw it was in Margaret’s garden.

Mine is a garden of memories.

POLAR VORTEX UPDATE

The Polar Vortex that crippled the south last week wreaked some havoc  in my garden.

I could tell from the window that the Michelia foliage was damaged and the Camellia blossoms were brown and mushy. Today I ventured out (74 degrees) to access the damage.

Michelia

Although there is some browning of foliage, it is not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

The Michelia (now reclassified as a Magnolia) looks awful, but the buds seem to be viable in their protected furry coats.

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The camellias, on the other hand did not fare as well. The good news is  the plants survived, however, many tight buds came off in my hand when I touched them.

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The  few that are okay are on the underside of the foliage so I guess that was their protection . ( Like all gardeners, I wish plants could talk!)

Now for the bad news… I doubt there will be  Hydrangeas this year, most of the buds are frozen & dead. While the stems appear fine right now, only time will tell.

Bay Laurel

Above, my Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)… bit the proverbial dust.

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Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) (above)  may be short in the stem but they are coming along.

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 Above, Winter Daphne ( Daphne odora aureomarginata)  unscathed & looking cheerful. Waiting for another few sunny days to unfurl and envelope the garden in its wonderful perfume.

And, as always, there is something cheerful waiting to brighten my day…

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Early species crocus.

What damage if any, did your garden experience?

WAY BEHIND!

Judging by my last post I am way behind. It is almost Christmas! To celebrate I just bought a camellia  sasanqua ‘Yuletide’. I can’t believe I waited so long before adding  this one to the garden. Actually it will be planted at the house  so I can see it from the living room window.

                                                                       Yuletide camellia

The glossy dark green foliage and  bright red single flowers with their golden centers will look fabulous against the white house and are perfect for the season. I plan to cut some and combine them with some holly & berries for the mantle and add Paperwhites for both colour and fragrance.

I’ll post photos of my decorations when they are finally done.  Meanwhile I hope you are all doing well and ready for the Holidays.

What are your favorite flowers for the Holidays?

THIS ‘N’ THAT

I planned this post about Robert Mallet’s lecture but I got carried away with the early Clematis and the Southern Azaleas (Rhododendron indica) and… and…   So here goes…a bit of this and that. (Robert’s inspirational lecture next, promise)

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The walkway from the work /compost area.

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The drive doesn’t look so bad after all. Blooming plants are a great distraction. When the Azalea (Rhododendron indica G.G. Gerbing) is done, the Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) on the right will start.

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The first clematis to bloom for me is the Japanese cultivar ‘Asao’. followed by…

P1210528‘H.F. Young’ and…

P1210534‘Josephine’. This year she is not as double as most. Lyndy, can you shed some light on this please.

Then there is my favorite rose…

P1210539‘Madame Alfred Carrier’.

The garden is glorious and I have not yet mentioned the Styrax obasia, the white Lady Banks rose, the Viburnums (more about them in the next post)…Life is good!

CAMELLIAS

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Years ago, when we lived in the Boston area, I visited The Lyman Estates.  Here I first saw camellias. They were growing in a greenhouse devoted exclusively to them.

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It was on that cold February day my love of Camellias was born. This love has been nurtured and encouraged by my dear friend Margaret Moseley whom I met years later when I moved to Georgia.

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Most of the Camellias I planted were recommended by Margaret.  She never gave me a list, rather it was a running commentary on what was blooming in her garden …

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“If you ever come across ‘ White Empress’  buy every one they have”

“Cotton Candy’ is blooming, prettiest thing you ever saw”

“Oh my, ‘Professor Sargent’  must have a hundred blooms on it today!”

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I followed her advice. Below is a sample of the camellias blooming in my garden today.

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 How lucky I am to know Margaret.

As a garden designer I incorporate camellias as an evergreen where conditions allow.  They make a beautiful,  glossy, dark green, hedge with the added bonus of fall/winter flowers.

JUNE IN JANUARY

The temperature here in Georgia is an unseasonable 76° F. I should not complain about this (coming from Canada), however all the buds on the spring bloomers are swelling and the cold, that is sure to come, will inevitably kill them.
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In a ‘normal’ year the Japanese Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume) above, starts to bloom sporadically  mid to end of January. This year on the 15th, it is almost done, its petals adorning the ground.

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The Helleborus, commonly called Lenten Roses, should peak, you guessed it, at Lent. Not this year,(below)

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I’ll not whine any longer. The camellias are putting on a spectacular show…

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and Margaret Moseley’s favorite, ‘Fragrant Pink’ is perfuming the air with its rose-like fragrance.

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This is also the earliest I have ever seen  Edgeworthia crysantha open.

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All in all this is going to be a very interesting gardening year.

It is never too late to wish you all a wonderful healthy & joyous New Year.

A GRACIOUS PLENTY

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Blooming this month, a gracious plenty of camellias. The first time I heard this I totally understood what it meant. Basically it means  ‘a lot of ‘, but you must admit, it is a more gracious expression .

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Have I mentioned before how I love the south? It bears repeating!

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I love living and gardening in the south. Happy Holidays Y’all!

MAGIC OF THE GARDEN

                                                                 

 Doing repetitive chores in the Potager sets  my mind free…

                                                                         

to traveled back in time….

 another season..

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory,

And like a dream of beauty glides away.”

                                     -Sarah Helen Power Whitman

                                                                             

THE GOLDEN SEASON

The Golden Season is upon us. The quality of light has changed and there is more than a touch of nostalgia in the air.

The weather in Georgia is still fine; the daytime temps are mild with crisp early mornings and evenings.

                                                                                              

While we cannot boast the colour changes of the northern states, there is still much to celebrate.

The early camellias are blooming……

and the salad garden is coming along….

Gardening may slow down a bit but it does not end. Still have to weed!

To see the name of the plants, hold your mouse over photos.

THIS ‘N’ THAT

Due to an injury I have been unable to garden. I finally got to take a walk and snap some photos so here goes.. a bit of this ‘n’ that.

This scene makes me smile every time..the faded flowers on the hydrangea and the Camellia sasanqua ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ perfect partners.

Stewartia  showing some of its famous exfoliating  bark. This was the year  to remove all the lower branches, it will look somewhat awkward for a few years…

Camellia sasanqua ‘Daydream’ I rescued this plant from the trash at a nursery. Margaret Moseley told me it was the only fragrant sasanqua in her garden…If  Margaret was growing it ..I needed to have one too; but it was an old variety and no one carried it. One Autumn day, plant shopping in Alabama, I caught a sweet fragrance and went to investigate…there it was, a broken scraggly mess, lying in the trash heap… the treasure I was seeking!  They gave it to me.

Beautiful colours on the lacecap hydrangea…

 eggplants and peppers still going in the potager…

and the clematis that bloomed all summer & going strong still… Clematis ‘Odoriba’

Life is good.

SO NOT READY!!!

 It’s really September and I am so not ready for the change of seasons. The Camellia  sasanqua  ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ is blooming….

and all the berries on the viburnums are full & beautiful…

Neglected area..or should I say areas I left to Mother Nature are actually lovely, nurturing many beneficial insects, Humming birds  and other wildlife

…including deer. I’ve stopped chasing them away.. they love these hydrangeas!

Once again, The Season of The Mourning Bench………….

REFINING THE GARDEN

When I ‘mapped out’ the gardens here at Hamilton House, I did not draw the plan on paper, rather I did it on-site; marking  out all areas with twine and grading stakes.  This is the ideal way to design, for me, ( translating that vision to a drawing takes time; then there are the endless details and decisions.)

First, the slow-growing plants that would form the foundation of the  landscape were put in… they required the time to bulk up while other areas of the garden were dug & created.

The Circle of Friends was first planted with the surround of camellias; these would form THE WALLS which would isolate it from the rest of the gardens and create a human sized room.)

This area was then left  for several years, before the hydrangeas were planted.

From a design point of view, the hydrangea planting should consist entirely of Hydrangea arborescens ‘ Annabelle’…. This would continue the planting leading to and from this area….

but I am an avid plant collector and sentimentalist, so here reside hydrangeas of all sorts…

cuttings from dear friends.. each with its own story and memory.

I was also fortunate enough to be a recipient of a tray of cuttings from Michael Dirr when he was heading research on  hydrangeas at the University of Georgia. So some of those plants are here as well.

A few years ago I planted the variegated boxwood, These serve a dual purpose;

1) they  ‘lead the eye’ as a  repeated element, which ties the garden together…

2) they articulate the space.

This fall I will execute the rest of the design by planting out the small hedge of Variegated Boxwood.

( I took these cuttings from the plants at the Mourning Bench in August/September of last year.)

The little plants are firmly rooted and healthy….soon it will be a beautiful enclosure for all the hydrangeas, like the tight little hedge in the photo below.

I could have gone another route here and planted shade loving hosta,  ferns, and the myriad of plants the enjoy these conditions.

This, however, is what I designed for the Camellia Walk /Woodland Garden and I wanted a more formal feeling for this room.

Also, for maintenance, one trim a year should keep it looking neat & contained.

I will wisely wait till the weather cools, in concert with  Mother Nature, to plant. Meanwhile, I will spread a nice layer of compost, shredded leaves & manure over the area , turn it in, to prepare the soil, then add more on top.

Please excuse all the leaves & debris… I am care-giving at the moment and unable to keep up with the garden the way I would like.

CAN IT BE ….SPRING?

I can’t believe I went from this..Image

to this in one day!!Image

How wonderful to be back in Georgia, where it appears we are in full-blown spring….

The gardening to do list grows daily as the overwhelming season is upon us.  Trying to separate the list into A) what will make an impact in the garden visually, and B) plant requirements. e.g. weeding  and feeding.

                                                                                       

All the camellias, both in the Circle of Friends, and the Camellia Walk are in bloom along with the Hellebores.

                                                                                          

Permeating the air is the fragrance of Daphne odora…. The garden is truly magnificent. A celebration of all the senses.

                                                                                             

The daffodils… well, they deserve their own  post.

MIXED EMOTIONS

Well, it really turned cold …. for middle Georgia. The temperatures were in the teens last night, according to my thermometer. The predicted 20 degrees was 18 here in my micro-climate.

                                                                                         

While I dread the camellias that are open, turning to brown mush, above. I am thrilled that the peonies will have the required chill hours to put on a show. See what I mean about mixed emotions?

Still, it is better to look at the  bright side, I cannot control Mother Nature, (much as I try)  and the closed buds for  future blooms look  perfect….so far.

                                                                                   

I will be out-of-pocket till the end of this month with little or no access to the internet (YIKES ?!!) So, have a fun January and keep warm.