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January Thaw?

Well, time to start a new year of life and a new year of blogs. ‘Tis true what they say. The years do go faster as you get older. Scary fast!

Designs for the coming year are pretty much done. We’ll have to wait to hear from some suppliers whether what we want will be available. It’s always good to have a back-up plant or two tucked away in one’s head just in case. Adaptability is rather important in horticulture.

We haven’t needed to shovel any snow thus far. Quite different from last year when it seemed the only time the world wasn’t snow covered between November and March was that freaky New Year’s Eve day when it was 61. That temperature didn’t last long and we were soon covered again by the white stuff.

Like last year, this winter is not terribly cold. But the mild temperatures are interrupted often enough by cold to remind me it
is indeed winter. This past Monday (the 2nd) was WINTER with temperatures dropping to the teens and a vicious wind. Vicious I tell you. Friday (the 6th) however will be spring at something like 50 degrees or warmer. Weather anymore is a roller coaster freak show of a ride.

It was so beautiful out on Thursday I took a break from the computer to have a look around the gardens. It felt like a January thaw except we really haven’t had a January freeze. I wasn’t sure what I would find but soon realized I had to walk back and get my camera. Things were a-poppin’.

One is not surprised at Hamamelis (witchhazel) in bloom when we have a mild streak. But I still so appreciate these amazing plants. The individual flowers are so intricate. They seem so delicate but in fact are tough as nails, unfurling on mild days, curling back tight on harsh days. They put on a show that lasts for weeks, sometimes months.

Here’s coppery ‘Jelena.’

And not much is sunnier in winter than the yellow witchhazels. This is ‘Wisley Supreme.’

Lots more buds yet to open so it’ll be a long show.

I found the Lonicera frangrantissima (duh, winter honeysuckle?) by the Garden for Everyone just starting to open. It often holds its leaves a long time but this is ridiculous.

Even a single bloom is fragrant if you get close enough.

But soon there will be many and you will smell it from quite some distance.

Another plant with semi-evergreen foliage is Magnolia virginiana (Sweet Bay Magnolia). This year the foliage of our ‘Satellite’ is nearly unblemished. I love this plant.

I usually start looking for Helleborus (hellebore) buds now if it is warm. Of course the Helleborus foetidus is blooming – just more perfect with the mild weather.

And what about plain old Helleborus x hybridus? Sure enough, buds are showing.

The new Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® is already flowering.

I love the foliage and flowers on these. I do still worry a bit about them because they bloom so early. But they seem tough as can be. I had some at home last year and there were flowers there every time we had a snow melt. They would get covered back up then when it melted again, there were the flowers. What concerns me is winters like this one where we have no snow cover. There could be a lot of damage to the flowers I fear. But, let’s worry about that when we have to. I still recommend these plants.

This is ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow.’

Some annuals are hanging in this winter – so far. In the Garden for Everyone again is Helychrysum italicum, curry plant.

Buddliea (butterfly bush) still has healthy foliage five feet in the air.

Petasites japonica (Japanese butterbur?) is an early bloomer but this is really early.

But the real kicker on my walk-about was this.

Those are daffodils in bloom!!!!!

Look. This just ain’t normal. Admittedly, this is obviously an early blooming cultivar , maybe ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation?’ Help me, Brent and Becky! I can’t find a record for it in this location. But we rarely have them blooming in February let alone early January. Not normal. And I know all about normal. This is crazy. And I know all about crazy too.

So what can we expect the rest of the winter? Mercy. Who knows? But as long it is mild, get out there and have look around. You don’t know what you might come across. And you never know when winter is gonna turn around and belt you with ice and temps below zero. So until it does, enjoy the perks. And try to keep those nasty global warming and climate change thoughts out of your head. They’ll just ruin the moment, Cleopatra.


Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Horticulture

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