Thursday, December 29, 2011

Garden Walk: December 29

Just yesterday, I said my garden was depressing. Today, I feel like I owe it an apology. Early morning clouds have moved east, revealing a blue sky and a vibrant garden alive on a light breeze. The air is fresh and cool. The warm sun makes a jacket nearly superfluous.

Breezy winter days are the one of the many reasons I love growing Miscanthus.While the breeze makes them a bit difficult to photograph, I like watching the seedheads dance in and out of the lens frame as I snap away. Every so often, I'll capture a crisp photo that still evokes the feeling of movement.

The dried inflorescence of Hydrangea 'Annabelle' is one of the more persistent features of my winter garden. These large (8-10" across) brown puffs last until spring when I cut them back as new leaf buds emerge lower on the stems.

The bark of the red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) growing just inside the backyard garden gate is dotted with white lenticels along its length. This particular dogwood is susceptible to a variety of diseases as it ages, so I try to cut back any stems that get thicker than an inch. It's more than willing to grow new stems from the base after a hard pruning.

Zefr (short for "Zen Frog") sits in his permanent meditation across from the dogwood, the semi-evergreen Geranium 'Biokovo' by his side.

The unseasonable warmth has tempted the witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) to peek out from its tightly wrapped buds to see if perhaps winter had forgotten us this year.

A tightly-branched Japanese Maple (Acer 'Roseo Marginatum') lies dormant in the shadow of the honey locust and gazebo, buds waiting patiently for spring.
 
I left the last flowers on the Knockout® 'Rainbow' rose planted at the far end of our new raised patio terrace. They've formed beautiful hips at the end of spiny stems.

The remnants of last spring's Pieris (P. japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff') bloom still arch above its evergreen foliage.

Heuchera must have antifreeze in their veins, for they are one of the few perennials still green in the garden. Rising above the crinkled fallen leaves of the red maple that forms the summer canopy for my shade garden, H. 'Brownie' is a retracted form of its warm-season self but otherwise seems unfazed by repeated nights below freezing.

Next season's leaf buds emerge on Viburnum 'Allegheny' below the umbrella of this year's leaves. I've read this variety is considered semi-evergreen and it is certainly proving that in my garden. Perhaps half the leaves turned yellow and fell, but the others show no sign of demise.

The blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Fat Albert') that anchors our front border shines in the morning sun. The contrast between the bronze stems and the blue foliage is among my favorite color combinations in the garden.
When cleaning up the garden this fall, I decided to leave the Baptisia stems standing, cut back perhaps by one-third of their summer height. I've enjoyed the textural effect of the dried grey-white stems against the background of the spruce.

The bright red berries of Aronia 'Brilliantisima' are beginning to desiccate, but remain the highlight of the driveway border.

After a series of very cold nights where I was convinced they wouldn't survive, the ornamental kale in our front porch containers is still welcoming visitors to our home with its bright-purple cheer. This is my first year growing kale, so I have no idea how cold is too cold for them. Only time will tell.

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday, I was ready to shutter the house up for a long, grey winter. Today, the garden is once again alive with inspiration.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Chris, I'm considering planting aronia arbutifolia to provide fruits for birds. I've read different opinions of it's usefulness to birds. Do you find that the birds eat from yours at all, or will the berries remain until spring?

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  2. What a beautiful share Thank you for sharing you passion with all of us Annie

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