Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sad news from south Alabama...

I guess most of you heard about another round of tornadoes that swept through Alabama this past weekend. This morning I learned that fellow bloggers Randy and Jaime at Creating our Eden was in the path of an F3 tornado. They were not hurt and their home is okay but many homes in their neighborhood, as well as their garden, was destroyed. You can read his post here. My thoughts are with them during this difficult time.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Winter Honeysuckle

{{{This post was written for my website A Southern Garden}}}

Winter Honeysuckle
Lonicera fragrantissima

Mature Height: 6-8 ft.
Growth Rate: Fast
Soil: Average, well-drained
Light Requirements: Sun/partial shade
Foliage: 1"-3" yellow-green leaves appear after flowers, darkening with age, semi-evergreen in milder climates
Flower/Fruit: Small, creamy white flowers appear in late winter. Red berries appear in spring.
Fragrance: Intense
Hardy to Zone 4

Imagine this - you are walking through a cold, barren, winter landscape and all of a sudden the air is filled with a strong lemony fragrance. You have discovered winter honeysuckle, a delightful old-fashioned shrub that has the distinct characteristic of blooming when most plants are dormant.

I first became aware of this shrub at the university where I work. There is a large hedge of them planted on campus and one day, just like I described above, I noticed the fragrance before knowing where it originated.

A sprawling and leggy shrub, it is quite indistinct until the powerful fragrance commands attention in January and February. Even the tiny flowers are not that noticeable in appearance but the fragrance can be detected from long distances.

Winter honeysuckle is very easy to grow in average well-drained soil. Like most plants, it will not tolerate wet conditions. It performs well in either full sun or partial shade. It grows rapidly and quickly attains a mature height. It can be invasive in optimal conditions so be aware of this. This is a good shrub for woodland gardens and makes a good hedge. The budded branches can be cut and brought inside for winter arrangements.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Color in the garden

“Color in the Garden” is the topic of conversation at the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop at I think February is a good time for this. Maybe it will bring some temporary relief to us bloom-starved gardeners.

Color is probably the main reason most of us like flowers and gardens in the first place. Some gardeners take color seriously and use it carefully to create harmonious palettes in their gardens while others don’t think about that and just throw everything together. I don’t think it matters either way because your garden should, first and foremost, be pleasing to yourself. Some may not care what others think (and they may be the most contented gardeners) while others may fret about what their neighbors might be thinking. I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle here. My garden has a somewhat wild look, especially in the dog days of summer but I’m not too concerned about what my neighbors think. On the other hand, I would be a nervous wreck if I knew Penelope Hobhouse was anywhere in the vicinity.

I think gardeners evolve over time. Our tastes change along the way and we are always striving to achieve that perfect garden and paradise. It is a never-ending quest. Gardens are never finished, right? Some of us become more restrained in our approach to gardening while others become more creative and wild. Which brings me back to color. I find myself becoming more and more aware of how I put colors together in the garden. In the beginning, I gave it no thought but after looking at thousands of magazines and books and studying gardening more seriously, influences start to sink in. Michael likes to tease me, saying that I’m becoming a “garden snob.” He knows I hate that!

I have had mixed results with my attempts at color coordination. I think I’m an artistic person and I understand the color wheel and the concepts of color relationships. But I’m the type of gardener who buys on impulse, comes home with a new plant, and then I walk around looking for a place to put it. After I’ve found the perfect spot and finish planting, I then realize that I’ve placed that orange lily in my blue and pink border! I am getting better though and maybe one day my garden will be perfectly color coordinated. Yeah, right!

I looked through some photos last night and found a few that I’ll share (click on them to get a larger image) -

One of my favorite combinations is blue and pink. I decided that this large border would be a blue and pink border. It is getting there but it is not easy!
This photo was taken before the blue salvia started blooming so basically you only see a lot of pink in this photo.

The following photo was taken in my front garden which borders the street. You can see I'm fond of purple and blue. There are also reds mixed in here. You can see the rose "Skyrocket" in the lower part of the photo and next to the buddleia is a huge "Scarlet Meidiland" rose (not blooming.)

This combination was a happy accident. In fact, the purple plant on the right, Perilla frutescens 'Crispa' was a volunteer.

I really like the fall colors. Another happy accident, this Mexican Sage is growing in front of a "Sango Kaku" Japanese maple.

More colorful fall scenes

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Winter wonders

Well, today's weather made me eat my words from my last post. It was sunny and reached 60! The ground was too wet to do any garden work so I picked up sticks and other debris from the wind storm we had a few nights ago and looked at plants. Do you wonder if people who are non-gardeners notice the beauties in the winter landscape? I got my camera out and took a few photos:

The Chinese Holly 'O'Spring' is always beautiful, no matter what the weather is like -

I wrote about the Winter Daphne in a previous post - it just gets prettier!

If you want winter fragrance, plant Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) - it is such an unexpected pleasure to catch a whiff of this in the dead of winter.

Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet' -

Abelia 'Francis Mason' -

I only found one camellia in bloom - 'Governor Mouton'-

Mossy bricks in the vegetable garden -

I have a fear of bamboos - this is the only one I have (Pleioblastus viridistriatus) and it is in a pot.

What would we do without pansies for the winter?

One of my favorite trees - the River Birch -

The holly fern hanging on -

Nandina berries -

Awaiting spring -

We still have some herbs to enjoy, like parsley -

and Santolina -

Ruins -

Winter birdbath -

And one last showoff, Isabella, who finally stopped rolling around on this bench long enough for me to snap a photo -

Friday, February 1, 2008

It won't be long now...

It has been so cold and dreary lately and Spring is like a distant memory. Our patience should be rewarded in just three or four weeks with scenes like the following (fingers crossed) -