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?

WHY DON’T YOU…

WHY DON’T YOU…

Have a  garden with presence in the winter.

Use evergreen groundcovers and some large evergreens for height.

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Here, Vinca and Helleborus mingle at the feet of deciduous hydrangeas. Can you imagine this space without them?

Yes, I just viewed Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has To Travel. can you tell?

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.

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!

FABULOUS FRAGRANCE!

The moment I walked out the door I knew it was blooming.

                                                                                 

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora aureomareginata)  the  most powerful fragrance imaginable. To quote a delivery person “That is LOUD!”

                                                                                         

She is not hard to look at either. Fragrance reminiscent of Lilac…but more… and  hauntingly beautiful.

© All photos & text 2011

FRECKLE FACE!

                                                                            

All of the Helleborus in my garden are seedlings.  Each one has different colouration …. all stunning, all with freckles.

                                                                                         

Only one named variety from the Heronswood ‘Party Dress’ Strain. It is a double, and  not open yet.

                                                                                          

Perhaps because there are so few blooms at this time of year they are all the more appreciated.

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

SIGNS OF SPRING

Last day in January and there are signs of spring everywhere.

                                                                               

The  daffodils  (Narcissus) are coming up in the meadow…

                                                                                       

and the Prunus mume  (Japanese Apricot ) is blooming!

                                                                                                 

                                                                                            

I didn’t have my glasses, but you get the idea. Too bad one  can’t photograph the fragrance.

I know there will be more ‘cold snaps’ before winter releases us from her grip… but these signs that she is waning, gladden the gardener’s heart.

 © All photos & text 2011

ANOTHER ESSENTIAL PERENNIAL

Arum italicum ‘Pictum’ is, in my mind, essential in any garden where it is hardy.  This perennial sends out its foliage in the late fall and remains green all winter.

                                                                                       

The handsome leaves resemble arrowheads with strong creamy veining. They make a sensational groundcover. Since one NEVER cuts the leaves off daffodils (Narcissus),  the Arum makes a  good companion for them in a vase.

                                                                                              

In spring  a creamy spathe appears. The flower & foliage disappear in the summer, followed by a column of orange/red berries.

If one gardens in zones 6-9 they are indispensable in the winter shade garden.

© All photos  & text 2011

INDISPENSABLE PERENNIALS 2

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.

MORE ON HELLEBORES

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.

© All photos & text 2011

AN INDISPENSABLE PERENNIAL

I am not a huge proponent of perennials. I find they require too much maintenance for a very short show and then, even the foliage disappears for the winter. There are of course exceptions. Peonies for example are worth whatever effort is required for even one day of bloom but of course they do last 10 days to 2 weeks in the garden and are stunning in a vase (see Reggie Darling on the pronunciation). The foliage too is quite handsome for most of the summer and useful in arrangements with other flowers as well.

The perennials I consider indispensable are those that have evergreen foliage. Perhaps the best of these are the Hellebores (Helleborus species).

                                                                                                  

They exhibit handsome leathery foliage, appreciate shade, and furnish the garden with much-needed greenery when it is most welcome .

I particularly like them planted at the feet of deciduous shrubs…

                                                                                             

 and at the base of large trees where not much else will grow.

                                                                                                

  Planted in masses, they make an effective ground cover.

Even in northern climates where there is snow cover for most of the winter, their flowers popping up through the melting snow is a sight to behold.

I do hope you include some in your landscape.

© All photos & text 2011

THE WINTER GARDEN

With all the holiday activities over I finally got into the garden. What a relief! It is so quiet and peaceful, in stark contrast to the last weeks. It truly is my sanctuary… just as I planned it.

                                                                                           

Gardening in Georgia, one can have a winter garden that BLOOMS.  From time to time a hard freeze will turn my magnificent camellia flowers to brown mush….

                                                                                             

 but in a day or two when it warms, the new buds open and the show begins again.

                                                                                           

 Even if they did not bloom, their evergreen presence create the ‘bones’.  I always start with the winter structure when I design landscapes. Without structure,  a collection of plants scattered about without any rhyme or reason, is just….. well, a collection of plants just scattered about!  Below,’ BEFORE’ at a client’s.

                                                                                             

While I love the warm spells, my hydrangeas (the macrophylla types) are all too anxious to welcome spring and start to break bud. Not a good thing!!

                                                                                          

The next frost will damage the flower buds that are already exposed. I’m going to try covering with ‘Remay’ a protective covering , or ‘floating row cover’ used in the nursery trade. Hopefully they will be spared. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

© All photos & text 2011