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?

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!

DECEMBER DELIGHTS

December delights, in the garden that is…..

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 The crunch of leaves under my feet, I find myself shuffling through the leaves to amplify the sound, much as my children did years ago. Living in the city we would have to go to a park to find this carpet..

I refuse to have them raked just yet. The ‘Mighty Oak’ has not yet dropped its leaves….

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so that’s my excuse, but really….too much fun!

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French Breakfast radishes from the Potager and Spicy Baby Lettuce  ready for a small salad.

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Perfuming the air is  the shrub “Wintersweet” Chimonanthus praecox.

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It always blooms for my birthday. What a gift!!

More on Wintersweet here

BOXWOOD CUTTINGS

I was all set to plant out the little cuttings of Boxwood

directly into the Circle of Friends,

According to my reference book…

at this size I would have to plant them 6″ apart!…

then I read Monty Don…..

                                                                                                   

He transplants his Box cuttings into a nursery bed and  grows them on for two or three years

To me, that makes sense, the plants are tiny.. I can baby them a bit longer,  give them a better start, fatten them up and plant them 3′ apart.

All the while I will be adding organic matter to the ultimate location of the box babies. Layer following layer of shredded leaves and rabbit Manure, and more leaves & compost….and  more leaves…. and….

HELLEBORES

                                                                            

 Hellebores are by far the most important perennial in all the garden. These are the widely grown  Helleborus orientalis .

                                                                                     

They form a carpet among the camellias and under the hydrangeas.  Stunning when they bloom, they exhibit handsome foliage  all year-long and are tolerant of the shade the hydrangeas provide during the summer when many are hidden under their  foliage.

                                                                               

 Below, is the Heronswood “Party Dress Strain’.  It is tiny with absolutely no landscape value whatever. 

                                                                                      

In a vase as a dinner companion, however, Joy!

                                                                                      

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.

WINTER GARDEN WALK 2

This time we had to see if there was any damage in the garden. We had already heard the loud thump as a huge limb fell in the drive. Our guests thought it might have hit their car, which it did not…. but not by much!

                                                                                                                                                     

This is the other side of the coin… gardening under trees can result in some damage in a windstorm. and these storms are not uncommon in Georgia.

                                                                                  

Below,the evergreen planting of Viburnum awabuki ‘Shindo’ meant to hide the garden shed is ravaged! A large limb (not shown)  came down right in the middle of it.

                                                                                   

                                                                                             

 Some major pruning and clean-up, is now on my “To Do” list.

Still there is so much beauty out there I can hardly complain…

                                                                                     

While Mother Nature is editing the garden……..

WINTER GARDEN WALK

Although it has been a bit dreary and raining I couldn’t resist taking a walk in the garden today. I could see the Japanese Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume) from the kitchen window but to experience the fragrance I needed to venture outdoors.

                                                                                   

Plenty of eye candy wherever one looks.                                                                        

                                                                                        

 Here at Hamilton House,  the scale is so vast that a  plant had virtually no impact unless it was large and from a landscape point of view, there needed to be several of the same plant to form a balanced composition.

                                                                                   

There was, initially the temptation to plant several plants close together so it would in a very little time have more impact; but I opted not to do that. I had seen that done in several gardens in Atlanta and always wondered which plants would have to be sacrificed when they outgrew their space. Instead I went with the tried and true technique, where, no matter the size plant I started with, it was planted with plenty of space to allow it to mature to its ultimate size.

                                                                                        

Needless to say the first several years everything looked silly as the plants were small and one could see clear across the entire garden.

                                                                               

Today, 15 years later, I know it was the right choice.With a little pruning here and there, everything (well, almost) can be kept within bounds.

                                                                                   

Still to come (above) Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

The bees are happy too!

A GARDEN VISIT

Yesterday I visited with Margaret Moseley. As usual I came home with a list of ‘must have’ plants.

                                                                                            

Margaret  has been an inspiration for many gardeners. Every season her garden is filled beauty wherever one looks.

                                                                                   

Above, a welcoming entrance… the large tree to the right is a Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), straight ahead is a Japanese Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume).

Margaret laid those stones when she was in her 70’s!

  Below, a seating area beneath a flowering cherry tree  (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’) surrounded by azaleas, camellias and underplanted with a variety of textured  & fragrant groundcovers…                                                                         

                                                                                      

Well thought out focal points….

                                                                                   

Her philosophy…

                                                                                 

Camellias in bloom…. my new plant list…

                                                                                  

                                                                                                             

                                                                                           

                                                                              

Some of these Camellias  are heirlooms, rare in the trade. While they may be a challenge to locate,  don’t give up, they are out there.

                                                                                               

                                                               

One of my personal favorites is Camellia japonica ‘Ava Maria’ (above). When I first saw it in Margret’s garden the hunt to acquire one was on! Her very generous daughter Jane located it for me. It is a  gift I treasure, as is Margaret’s friendship.

Note: plant names are visible if cursor is on photo. To read more on Margaret & her garden visit GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY. She is often featured.

BERRIES!!

Some great plants for both the landscape and holiday decorations.

                                                                           

Hollies… you cannot beat them for their beauty this time of year. Above, Ilex x ‘Emily Bruner’  with berries that encircle the stem…

                                                                                   

The Buford Holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii’)  exhibits a heavy fruit set in clusters, except when a late frost kills the blossoms.

                                                                               

 Heavenly Bamboo  (Nandina domestica);  I refer here to the species and not some of the newly engineered dwarfs. Gorgeous grape like clusters of berries that last a very, very long time. (Note, this is NOT a bamboo)

                                                                                                                                                                                

The Viburnum berries that were wonderful & fresh for Thanksgiving are looking a bit tired but still ornamental…

                                                                                              

The yellow berries of Viburnum ‘ Michael Dodge’ almost ready for the birds. When they are ‘ready’ they will be devoured in a day.

Happy decorating!  And thank you WORDPRESS for the snow.

WAIT A MINUTE

If you don’t like the weather “Wait a minute”  I was told when I first moved to Georgia; so it’s no big surprise that while last week was cold & rainy and even frosty some mornings, this week we are in the high 60’s.

                                                                                       

I have no idea when the  Fragrant Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) started to bloom but here it is Dec 3rd.

                                                                                     

Wonderfully fragrant, not overly sweet but a clean rather fresh scent, usually starting in mid to late November in my garden.(I usually look for it around Thanksgiving)

                                                                                     

 Not the best looking shrub in the border, rather a bit course and ragged  so I camouflage it  with a clematis during the summer.

Winter blooming shrubs or perennials are worth their weight in gold…even at today’s  prices.

NATURE’S MASTERPIECES

These are some of nature’s masterpieces. Every bit as beautiful as roses… don’t you think?

                                                                                                

                                              REV. JOHN DRAYTON                                                                                         

                                                   MAGNOLIAEFLORA

                                                                                           

                                                TAYLOR’S PERFECTION                                                                                            

                                                    WHITE EMPRESS

                                                                                       

                                                      ROSE DAWN

                                                                                    

                                                       BETTY SHEFFIELD

The above Camellias all reside in the ‘Circle of Friends.’

                                                                                                    

Just a thought… there needs to be a larger more interesting focal point there.

CAMELLIA MADNESS

The Camellia Walk  is in full flower.

                                                                                                                                                                                  

 The Helleborus are also at their peak, I love them together, makes for a lush planting…the only kind.

                                                                                   

Just about here, I turn around to see………

                                                                                                                                                                                            The daffodils in The Meadow.                                           

Up close & personal………                                                                                       

                                                                                              

                                                                                                      

                                                                                            

© All photos & text 2011