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!

 

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.

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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?

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

                                                                             

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.

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

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!