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.

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?

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!

MEANWHILE, IN THE GARDEN..

On a tour of the garden today, signs of spring …

                                                                                           

The Meadow is coming alive..

                                                                                              

Soon I’ll  post the results of 13 years of rescuing daffs and trying to achieve the ‘English Thing’.

                                                                                   

Meanwhile the Winter garden is doing what it is supposed to and is at  its peak….The “peak” lasts a few months…  Above, Prunus mume & Helleborus, below, a camellia…

                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Below,  evergreen shrubs make this is a very satisfactory garden area. 

                                                                                                                                                    

 

Notice, below, the variegated Boxwood, the berries on the Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica ‘Alba’) and the groundcover  Sweet Flag  (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ )…

                                                                                                    

 This is usually the time of year projects get started &/ or continued to be worked on, some, for many seasons. There are so many projects…..

When we started this  garden, we did not consider, EVER, declining  physical stamina.

© All photos & text 2011

DRUNK with CAMELLIAS!!

Vita Sackville West wrote of her garden… “I am drunk with roses!”

I, am drunk with Camellias!

blooming on the right …

                                                                       

              Camellia japonica ‘Debutante’                                                       

The Camellia Walk snakes through the shade garden in the form of an inverted ‘S’

Below, it is the Camellia Walk which forms the background for the Mourning Bench.

                                                                    

                                                                   

In the Potager, below, a salad Garden, some collards & cabbages.

                                                                   

In the Cutting Garden, the seeds of the Lilies (Lilium formosanum)are ripe. Please e-mail me if you would like seeds. There were some request  after I posted the flowers, HERE.

                                                                 

AND… The Continuing Saga of yet another project….

                                                                    

An improvement since the last time I posted this spot.

I will be away from the computer for a week. Will fill you in when I return.

 © All photos & text 2010

GLORIOUS DAYS

The weather has been beautiful this past week and there is no better place to spend these glorious days than in the garden.  Below, The Meadow gets its annual mowing.

                                                                      

                                                                       

It always looks so verdant after the cut. Next the Daffodils  will pierce the ground and spring will be back in a few short weeks! (always an optismist.)

The photography however, has not been very satisfying. Too much glare now that the canopy is thinning out. Guess I’ll have to try earlier or later in the day.

                                                                 

One of my favorite blogs is Edith Hope’s Garden Journal.  Her last comment made me realize that I need to show long shots of the property to give some context for the photos. So here are a few…

                                                                  

The front of the house, circa 1844. The meadow is to the right (east) below…

                                                                     

                                                                      

East side of the house from the meadow.

                                                                      

The east side of the house from the entrance to the ‘Camellia Walk’.

Backtracking just a few steps….

                                                                     The meadow terminates at the entrance to the Camellia Walk on the left and the walk to the Circle of Friends straight ahead.

Here you can see some ‘Garden Arithmetic’; the camellias form both one side of the Camellia Walk as well as the background for the hydrangeas on one side in The Circle of Friends.

The expression is divide to multiply your space!

I’ll continue the tour with better photos this week.

© All photos & text 2010

RANDOM THOUGHTS

                                                                     

 Evergreen ferns keep the garden looking lush in winter.

                                                                     

Here the Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)  adds texture to the camellia walk, (above & below)

                                                                   

so does the Arborvitae or Moss Fern (Selaginella pallescens) (below)

                                                                    

 and the Tassel Fern. (Polystichum polyblepharum)

                                                 

Seating,  painted matt black, does not detract from the real interest..STRUCTURE & PLANTS!

                                                                  

 This is after all, a garden. ( I am all for a touch of whimsy… just not here.)

The individual differences in seedlings will always amaze me. Below, Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis hirta) that seeded themselves.

 

Finally… why I do not want curtains.

                                                                      

                                                          ( Mom, this is for you)            

 

OOPS!

I might have been too hasty in suggesting the introduction of the The Camellia Walk . It’s really not ready for its close-up! Quick peek down below.

                                                                     

 And there is only’ Hana Jima’ blooming there now.

                                                                   

 Sparkling Burgundy,  below, (there are 3 of them in the garden) is located in the circle of friends, and the other two are not part of the camellia walk at all.

                                                                   

My friend Marsha has Camellia japonica ‘Daikagura’ blooming now! (thanks for the photo Marsha.)

                                                                    I have been out gardening from dawn to dusk. Weather is perfect and much needs to be done as one season ends and another begins.

                                                                    

The cutting garden along with the potager  has been seriously neglected this season due to health issues. So now its  time to pay the piper . I do this with the ‘weed dragon’

                                                                                                                                  

and no matter how careful…there is always some collateral damage.

                                                                  

 Still, I use this tool. For large neglected  areas … perfect.

                                                                   

 Eggplant & basil still producing in the potager. But  salad greens must be sown now & cabbage, kale, onions & garlic. I hope I am not too late on the winter veg.

HEAT ADVISORY!

This may be the first time in my life I wanted summer to be OVER. In Georgia we have had 63 days with temps in the high 90’s and that is before they calculate the heat index.

Hope is on the way… I saw camellia buds today.

                                                                           Cooler weather is around the corner. I can’t believe I was as excited to see these , as when I see the first daffodil pierce the ground in January.

© All photos & text 2010