Earlier this summer, as I sat in the Circle of Friends, I realized that after the first major flush of bloom my ‘interesting hydrangeas’ really had no impact at all. What was needed was more of the strong blue mopheads.
So cuttings it was, since that particular hydrangea is an unknown variety and I have no idea how to locate more.
Good plan? Yes, untill I saw them today; this is what they look like now.
Yet, on the other side …
the less spectacular blue mopheads dry beautifully.
Another indispensable perennial for the winter garden would be Epimedium or Barrenwort. Pleasant foliage all summer turning bronze / rose in the winter. They make a very useful groundcover in dry shade and are magnificent paired with Helleborus. Below in my garden…
In very early spring the delicate flowers, commonly called Fairy Wings, emerge and proclaim winter officially over.
Although they find their way into my miniature vases, they are by no means ‘show stoppers’. I use them primarily as ‘filler’ although some of the newer varieties just introduced from Asia can definitely stand on their own. Below Epimedium ‘Making Waves’
I encourage you to add some to your garden. The best & newest can be found at http://www.plantdelights.com Another bonus… they are deer resistant.
Photo of Epimedium “Making Waves’ used with permission from Plant Delights Nursery.
I neglected to include a close up photo of the hellebore ( Helleborus orientalis) I featured in the last post… so here it is.
There are many hellebore species (15 according to Armitage). I grow only the two common types successfully. The second one is the Bearsfoot Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus). This is the earliest hellebore to open in my garden.The lime green nodding bell-shaped flowers with a thin purple rim often greet me just before the New Year.
The blue-green foliage is a wonderful foil for the flowers.
This is also known as the “Stinking Hellebore’ but I have never detected an odor and I do use them in arrangements indoors.
The other commonly known hellebore is the Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) and I have presided over the funeral of every one I have planted. I REALLY would like to grow it, so if anyone reading this has any advice I would appreciate it. It does bloom before Christmas & through the holiday, just not in my garden.
The last few years there has been much made of the new double hellebore, but quite frankly they have disappointed me. Unlike the photos in catalogues, which feature only the flowers, they are quite small (6-8″tall) and fall short of making a big show. IF they were to be grown say, at the top of a wall or in a raised container seen at eye level, yes, they would be delightful, but I am frankly interested in landscape appeal on a larger scale.
For the next few posts I will cover a few more perennials I consider indispensable.
When I was planning my southern garden, I knew I had to have a Camellia Walk.
Many years ago, when I lived in Massachusetts, I would regularly visit the Lyman Estates. It was there that I saw my first Camellias. A visit to Mr Lyman’s greenhouses in February was an incredible sight. There were greenhouses where grapes were ripening during winter, fragrant Jasmines & Daphne. One greenhouse was devoted to Camellias and they formed a spectacular avenue. It was a southern garden in a series of greenhouses.
I know that this was where the seed for our move south was sown. I wanted to garden & live where it was possible to have Camellias bloom in the winter. I am by the way Canadian, a native Montrealer, so I am no stranger to long, grey, dreary winters. Below, my antidote…
the entrance to The Camellia Walk …AKA …The Winter Garden.
Truly Southern with its swept dirt, curved path; it leads from the back of the house to the compost & (former) chicken house.
Underplanted primarily with evergreen ferns & Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis), it never looks bare even in the dead of winter. In fact, that is when it comes to life!