Late February Garden Report

This Eastern Bluebird is perched on the folded tip of the juniper next door.

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

A heavy wet snow overnight transformed the winter garden.

Snow Dressed Garden

Snow Dressed Garden

Once again the birds are scurrying back and forth between feeders and favorite perches.

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Surrounded by draping branches of ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress, a Northern Cardinal waits patiently on a redbud branch while the Eastern Bluebirds take a turn at the feeder.

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Looking below and to the right of the cardinal, the green clumps on the ground are Hellebores. Here are the same ones seen looking more colorful yesterday. This collection of Hellebores in the garden’s southwest corner were among the last to bloom.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Speaking of hellebores, I highly recommend this new video from a well-known, North Carolina-based nursery: Hellebore (Lenten Rose) Production at Plant Delights Nursery. Owner Tony Avent explains how he grows and selects Hellebores to sell at his nursery.

Fortunately with a high forecast of 37 °F today the snow is already beginning to melt, but winter refuses to leave. Low temperatures for the next 3 nights: 26 °F; 18 °F; and 12 °F.  There are broken branches in the neighbors’ yards and lots of bent branches and shrubs in the back garden. Out front the Crape Myrtle pair have once again been damaged. The crushed one on the left had make such a nice recovery too, after having been flattened by a freakish summer wind shear several years ago. The tree on the right lost a lower branch this time.

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

This bird flew up into the bottom of the feeder two or three times before finally landing on the feeding perch. I wonder if it was trying to shake down the seeds toward the front or was just beating itself up over this weather. Spring is coming, spring is coming, spring is coming…

Avian Antics

Avian Antics

February Snow and Birds

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

This is my 500th post!

Snow today was a big surprise this morning when my husband brought me a cup of coffee and opened the window blind. Some parts of the US are measuring snow in feet this year, but we had about 3 inches—maybe 3-5 inches more tomorrow night.

Most schools in the area cancelled classes due to unsafe road conditions. The local garden club follows the school schedule for inclement weather, so our monthly meeting was also cancelled today. That left my morning free to enjoy the snow falling and watching the birds vying for position at and around the feeders.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

I had to run out first thing to fill both feeders, which have been quite the popular hangouts lately.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

It is frustrating to try to get good images of the birds with my camera but there was such a gathering of species I could not resist trying. This video gets off to a slow start, but eventually shows a few of today’s visitors, starting with an Eastern Bluebird.

In A Vase On Monday—Resilience And Vulnerability

Floating Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose) In A Glass Dish

Floating Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose) In A Glass Dish

Monday brings an opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to fill a vase using materials gathered from one’s garden.

Resilience is an admirable trait in people and in plants. In the plant world Helleborus stands among the very best of the irrepressible. Our low temperature may not have quite reached 1°F this week, but 2°F felt just as cold. A brief reprieve this weekend brought Sunday’s high into the 50s and when I quickly searched late in the afternoon for anything that might go into a vase this week, I had only to stop in front of the hellebores. While one clump did strike a limp posture, several other groups appeared ebullient. I collected some happy ones.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

On the other hand, before coming inside I checked on the more vulnerable Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne) that has been covered in reddish-tipped buds for weeks. Before the recent cold hit the daphnes seemed poised for a thrilling bloom time. Unfortunately in a repeat of last year, now they reveal only great distress and browning and I doubt there will be many, if any, flowers.

For this week’s arrangement I chose a footed glass dish with a shallow bowl to display the flowers. I placed large black stones in the bottom and covered them with water. I trimmed the stems quite short and floated the hellebores above the rocks for a colorful Monday offering.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Please visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. You may be tempted to join in as well. It is fun.

An Edwardian Lady’s February

A number of years back my daughter and I attended a nature journalling workshop at the nearby botanical garden, where we were first introduced to the lovely detailed drawings and observations of Edith Holden’s Nature Notes For 1906.

The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady

The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady

Holden was a 35-year old artist and illustrator living with her family at Gowan Bank, Olton, Warwickshire, when she meticulously crafted this month-by-month collection of poetry, flowers and wildlife. A facsimile of her diary was published years later in 1977 under the title, The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady.

A year or two after the journalling workshop my daughter surprised me with a copy of Holden’s diary as a Mother’s Day gift. While reshelving some books I came upon it today and as always, once I opened it up I could not resist the wonders within its pages. The watercolors are charming and in general I have always been intrigued with artists’ sketchbooks.

I decided to look up February to see what this month had been like in 1906 for the naturalist.

February Illustrated

February Illustrated

I was surprised to see a lovely little sketch of Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus), something I had only yesterday learned about through a photo on Gardening Jules. On February 12 Holden noted she had gathered some Gorse blossom on her way home from visiting the violet wood. That does sound splendid.

Common Gorse

Common Gorse

And while I have been indoors and overly obsessed with the weather lately, she recorded this entry for February 24.

Cycled to Packwood through Solihull and Bentley-heath.  I passed a rookery on the way, the Rooks were all very busy building yup their old nests, and a great deal of chatter they made over it.  I saw a little Robin gathering materials for its nest, at one place on the bank and further on, a Thrush with a beakful of long straws. Everywhere the branches of the Willow bushes were tipped with downy white balls and the Alder-catkins were shewing very red. In the garden of Packwood hall adding the church years the borders were full of large clumps of single snowdrops. I brought away a great bunch.  The farmer living there brought out a little lamb to show me, one of a family of three born that morning. I held i in my arms and it seemed quite fearless—poking its little black head up into my face. Rode home seven miles, in a storm of sleet and snow.

February entry

February entry

While I merely opened the window to take a quick picture through sleet and snow, she actually cycled home in the storm seven miles. (In common with her though I have noticed several American Robins checking out things the past week!)

With many blogging friends writing about snowdrops and after seeing catkins used in flower vases, I realize there is so much more contained in the pages of this journal than what I have gleaned before. After a few years of following blogs I have more context for seeing and understanding Edith Holden’s world. I am looking forward to reading back through her observations.

Aspen Catkins, Purple Willow, Goat Willow and Alder

Aspen Catkins, Purple Willow, Goat Willow and Alder

There is something decidedly unique about seeing Holden’s work on paper. Still, I wonder if she would have also considered keeping a garden blog.

____
Holden, Edith. 1977. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, 1906: A Facsimile Reproduction of a Naturalist’s Diary. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Wordless Wednesday—Garden Outlined In Snow

Brief Snow Flurries Today

Brief Snow Flurries Today

We had light snow and sleet late Monday afternoon. Much melted today but then we had another brief flurry around 5pm this evening. Minutes later the sun is shining. Record cold temperatures with low tonight of 12°F. On Thursday, a high of 16°F and low of  1°F (–17C).

Brief Snow Flurries Today

Brief Snow Flurries Today

Yesterday morning the garden outlines were highlighted.

Garden Outlines, Yesterday Morning

Garden Outlines, Yesterday Morning

The birds have been fun to watch.

Birds At Breakfast Yesterday

Birds At Breakfast Yesterday

Today’s flurries over, the sun prevails a half-hour later.

After The Snow, Blue Sky

After The Snow, Blue Sky

In A Vase On Monday—An Appreciation

In A Vase On Monday - Cyclamen

In A Vase On Monday – Cyclamen

Monday brings an opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

I offer today’s vase as a thanks for the many get-well comments and inquiries I received while recovering from an unexpectedly prolonged winter flu. Time seemed to be the remedy, assisted by homemade soups and other comfort foods, tea with honey, and lots of sleep.

Five pots of cyclamen helped lift my spirits during this time. So undemanding, nearly year-round they bloom and bloom and bloom. Several of these plants are a decade old.  The flowers of this plant have joyous rhythm and personality in all stages. I never tire of watching them unfold.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Today’s simple vase features a couple of cyclamen flowers, one red and one white, along with one of the variegated heart shaped leaves. I placed them into a glass Riedel espresso cup. On the saucer a few sprigs of sedum suggests a change in texture while reflecting the red and green hues from above.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Materials
Cyclamen
Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (Angelina Stonecrop), 3 sprigs

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Please visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday—January Flu

Creative Design Workshop II - 2 a

Creative Design Workshop II – 2 a

Monday brings an opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

Note: The flu caught up with me this weekend so actually I have no Monday vase this morning. But I had already prepared a postscript to show one last look at my creative design workshop last week. I do not want to bore you but thought you might like to see how the arrangement took shape once the lilies opened. Now, back to napping.

A Postscript

Last week I wrote a in detail about a Creative Design Workshop I attended. The Asiatic Lilies were in tight bud when the arrangement was made on Tuesday. Finally one flower opened fully on Saturday and I felt the design was completed. The opened lily at the base helps provide a wow factor, the partially opened one in back gives something peeking through, the one at mid-height is beginning to help fill the space on the front left.

By comparison the design looked like this on Tuesday.

Before the Asiatic Lilies opened

Before the Asiatic Lilies opened

The flowers help fill the space of the design.

The flowers help fill the space of the design.

 

Asiatic Lily

Asiatic Lily

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Please visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Feel free to join in yourself.