Tuesday, January 8

Winter Color... and A Confession


Last week, we were dealt high temps in the 20s and blustery winds that cut right through all but the sturdiest of winter clothes. I am nothing of a clotheshorse, but I am not afraid to shell out money for good, sturdy, long-lasting clothes... and so I have a nice Burton "Toast" snowboarding jacket with a removable down liner, a cute but functional knitted wool cap, and a pair of khaki-colored snowboard pants that work just as well for walking the dog as they do for hitting the slopes.

I needed none of that today, however, as it was a balmy 65 degrees! I've been working 80 hours a week for the past three weeks (with just Christmas Day off) and so I took a much-needed "recovery day" today. Bri, Coco and I went for a long walk in the Metroparks in just jeans and light sweatshirts... and then I took a walk around the garden to see what caught my eye, like these little variegated iris next to a dark heuchera.

A few things caught my eye in a not-so-good way, too. I took some divisions of my Mom's lamium last spring and summer, and they have spread nicely underneath the rhododendron, highlighting the rhodie leaves in a very good way. Look closer at the cluster of rhodie leaves on the left, however, and you'll see the ugly evidence of chlorosis. I am not one for babying plants much, but this rhodie is obviously old and I really like the way it looks against the house. (Evn though it was planted too close to the house in the first place.) So I may have to take some corrective action in the spring.

On the bright side, there are a lot of grasses still showing winter interest. The pinkish winter tones of Little Bluestem, with their white tufts of seedheads, look lovely swaying above 'Fuldaglut' sedum. The bleached-out blades of 'Sioux Blue' sorghastrum nutens provide a great backdrop for the 'Regina' heuchera at its base. Northern sea oats are legendary for their winter interest and show up well against the golden oregano that underplants them...

...but this carex buchanii, with its warm reddish bronze tones, is my current garden favorite. It seems to get a little more lax in the winter, and here you see it sprawled across a variegated lemon thyme. It contrasts nicely with the silvery-blue lavender foliage behind it, and is warmed up by the young clump of 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyrata at the corner of the bed.

Hellebores can be counted on to show some green in the wintertime, but I especially love seeing their fresh foliage--some of which is edged in red--as in the first picture on this post. With little else showing any signs of growth, it makes me admire the toughness of the hellebores even more.

On first sight, I was a little worried about this hellebore, which I transplanted twice in the middle of our summer drought. Yes, I know what all the experts say about transplanting hellebores, much less during a drought. But I've moved my hellebores multiple times with no ill effects so I figured I would take just one more chance. Luckily, there are little green buds hiding beneath the mulch of beech leaves at the crown of the plant... I covered them back up and tucked them in after taking this picture.

Last, but not least, this photo shows part of what I see when I walk down my front steps each morning. The architectural shrub in the foreground is a doublefile viburnum that might be on its way out... frankly, this shrub needs more moisture than my well-drained soil and this low-maintenance gardener is willing to give it. (If my parents are willing to give me the space at their house, it would be much happier there.) I won't pull it until I can decide what to plant in its place, however.

In front of the viburnum, out of the range of this picture, are the 'Ivory Prince' hellebores that I showed in my last post. Behind the viburnum on the left you see small green mounds of digitalis parviflora, almost smothered in leaves. In front of the two Japanese hollies is a small clump of transplanted bergenia in its red winter coat...

...which leads me to my confession. In spite of my admission at the beginning of this post that I am not a clotheshorse, and regardless of the fact that I am relatively anti-consumerism, I am unfortunately not immune to the need for some retail therapy (of the plant variety) every now and then. So yesterday, I placed my first-ever order with Plant Delights, for: 'Solar Flare' bergenia, 'Sparkling Burgundy' eucomis, and 'Hab Grey' sedum telephium ssp. ruprechtii

In my defense, it could have been worse, had I been any more tired--or drinking wine--because there were many, many more things on my PDN wishlist! (Kylee at Our Little Acre might have more houseplants than I do, but my PDN wishlist is quite a bit longer than the one she posted last week.) But I do resolve to be stronger about my winter plant and seed purchases for the rest of this season! (It's not too late for resolutions, is it?!)


Side note: This blog is a true "labor of love" for me, and while I'm not trying to make any money from it (hence the lack of Google ads, etc.) I am trying to keep it from costing me money. I'm already using 25% of my usable picture storage with Google, so I'll be resizing photos from older posts through the next few weeks and reposting them in an effort to "buy" a bit more storage space for the coming year. I share this only because I understand that some people use feeds to keep up with various blogs... and I have no idea whether people subscribe to my feed or not but I don't want to bombard anyone with notifications of my reposts. So I will be disabling my feeds while I'm doing all of this picture resizing work, and will enable them again after the work is completed.

28 comments:

Katie said...

1) I hate chlorosis! But thankfully it goes away once the weather heats up and acid-lovers can get the nutrients they need from the ground.
2) Glad you finally got a day off! 80 hours?! Phwew!
3) I'm really interested in Hellebores since everyone's talking about them...I wonder if they grow in my neck of the woods?
4) PS - You're not a bad person for resorting to retail therapy. We're all "guilty" I suppose. At least you didn't but superfluous unnecessary things that hurt the environment, right!

Take care,

Katie at GardenPunks

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Katie, good point on the weather/chlorosis. But I have a feeling it's still too sweet there for the rhodie--there is plenty of cement nearby to leach lime into the soil. 80 hours for one week isn't too bad... but 80 hours/week for 3 weeks in a row is admittedly brutal.

I have no idea whether the hellebores would grow with your heat, but they are beautiful if you can grow them. And you're right about the plant retail therapy... but all that environmental cost of shipping them, argh!

Annie in Austin said...

Glad to know you're okay, Kim - in spite of the brutal schedule. I'd be drinking coffee by the gallon and then dumping the grounds on the rhodie - it might still be yellow but it would be awake.

Plant Delights has sent me some great stuff over the years - hope you have the same kind of experience.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Girl, after working that many hours you deserve a good "shop". You just sit back there in your computer chair and order a couple other plants.

Your winter garden is very interesing. You have given me an idea or two about some plants I would like to try. I haven't had much luck with Bergenia. I must try it again.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

As you've worked so very hard there's no need to defend your need of a little retail therapy. We all need it from time to time and they are worse things to buy than nice plants for the garden. :-) Love the Carex buchanii!

Colleen said...

Retail therapy via plants is the best kind ;-) I just got my PDN catalog yesterday---I swear there's something on every page that I want!

Glad to hear you got a break. I actually thought about you the other day--I was going through the seed box and came across some left over bronze fennel seed you sent me---it still has that awesome fennel smell, even after all this time!

We've been near the 60's, too, although that's supposed to change after today. Just enough to tease us with a bit of springtime in January :-)

Nan Ondra said...

Good to have you back, Kim! Thanks for the garden tour. I'm glad you had the time to get out and enjoy this spell of amazing weather. I suspect it's given many of us a good case of spring fever.

Muum said...

I was eyeing that Hab Grey sedum, too. Don't remember where I saw it. I enjoyed the vicarious walk around the garden with you, we have over a foot of snow in the yard, here!

Kathy said...

It's a good thing you mentioned about turning your feeds off, because while I come here to read, I do use Bloglines to learn when you have a new post.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Annie, I have definitely been drinking coffee by the gallon--and often wasn't quite sure which day of the week it was, I admit! Glad to hear that you've had good experiences with Plant Delights... they seem a little pricey but then the good reviews of large plants received over on Garden Watchdog talked me into it being worthwhile. :)

Lisa, don't encourage me! lol. I still have catalogs from Bluestone, High Country Gardens, Select Seeds, and others to tempt me... *grin* The bergenia really likes me for some reason, and after hearing about it not working for some others I am wondering if it's because of my good winter drainage?

Yolanda Elizabet, thanks. :) I rarely need any retail therapy at all, even of the plant kind, so I guess I felt that I had to defend myself this once. lol.

Colleen, I know what you mean--last year I totalled up my entire PDN "wish list" and it was more than $1000 if I remember correctly! Such gorgeous stuff. (And your comments about the fennel reminds me that I can't get too attached to this springlike weather--I haven't started my winter sowing yet!!)

Nan Ondra, thanks for stopping by--and you're so right about the spring fever. I called in to my local garden center yesterday to see if they had seeds in... and even though they didn't, I stopped by anyway to buy a pot for a friend as a gift. In talking to tone of the workers there who I know, I found out that I was just one of a couple dozen people who called to inquire about seeds yesterday!

Muum, a foot of snow?! Well, at least you know that your plants are well insulated, tucked under that blanket of white stuff. :)

Kathy, I really need to sign up on bloglines myself so I can get these notifications, too. There's too many times that I visit you, or Annie, or any number of other garden blogs only to discover that I'm a few posts behind.

It should hopefully not take too long to get to the point where I can reenable the feeds... I'm not doing any "tweaking," just bringing the resolution and such down so that I can buy a few extra months' worth of photo storage.

Meagan said...

I love the picture with the lamium and rhododend...droms... however they're spelled. I might have to draw it.

Kerri said...

We have drab green and brown outside today..no snow, afer our January thaw/taste of spring temps. Nice (although the snow is prettier)! I even got out and mulched and snipped a bit. Fun!
I'm tired just reading the amount of hours you've worked! You deserve some plant retail therapy...a fine reward for hard labor.
Have you grown Agastache? I saw it in the High Country Gardens catalog and am enamored!

david mcmahon said...

Interesting to read about the vagaries of your weather. Here in Melbourne Australia, we regularly get four seasons in one day!

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Love the Iris-Heuchera combo.

This is my year for PDN, as well. I also started to write up an order in the middle of a sleepless night and thought better of it.

It's interesting to me that you don't want to remove your poorly-performing Viburnum until you have something to replace it. I've been living with "vacant" land around my house since we moved, mainly because I had to remove the weeds, and there hasn't been anything to put in its place.

I use Bloglines to track hundreds of feeds. It's the only way it could be possible to keep track.

Carol said...

Kim, aren't you a nice blogger, disabling your feed while you update your picturse. I use Google Reader myself to keep up with various blogs.

The warm weather was nice, but it just didn't seem right, to be that warm. It was freaky, in a way. But it is getting colder again, so I'm happy. I'll be even happier looking through the PDN catalog later on.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

jodi said...

Well! I'd have serious retail therapy needs too if I had access to PDN...and that bergenia would be one of my choices too, Kim. I'm starting to compile a wish list of plants that are needed here, and hopefully I'll find lots of them here in Canada.
Your garden looks much better than mine, which is a mess with all the snow melting off rapidly! I'll probably post tomorrow about the ocean in my yard. :-)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kim, I was filling up my Blogger/Picasa space too and had to resize pictures. What a pain that is!

I didn't know to disable the feeds. I don't use feeds yet so I'm assuming by what you are saying that every time I resize and repost a blog entry that it shows up as a new blog post. Yikes! I sometimes make corrections and repost too. I'm sure that is quite an aggravation to those who may subscribe.

Thanks for the heads-up on this.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Meagan, feel free. :) I emailed it to you to make the drawing part easier.

Kerri, you're right--the snow is prettier! I thought about snipping, too, but I cannot alway be trusted to stop... lol. (And yes, I really want some agastache this year! Isn't HCG's 'Ava' a pretty one?)

David, I suppose it's all in what you're used to, huh? :) Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog.

Xris, I love that, too. And if/when the stipa tenuissima nearby gets bigger and mixes in, I'll be really happy!

I think that the reason I want to have a replacement before I move the viburnum is twofold: 1) I have so much around it that it would be an obvious "hole" in the garden if it were removed, and 2) It's not performing that poorly, it's just fussier than I want in that spot. (I'm thinking about putting in some shrubs of rosemary, but can't figure out if those will get quite high enough for me...)

Carol, I agree--the fact that you could kind of SMELL spring in the air kind of freaked me out a bit! And I'm sure I'll keep looking through the PDN catalog and dreaming that I'd put more things in that order... lol.

Jodi, do they not deliver to Canada? Darn! The 'Solar Flare' bergenia is from TerraNova Nurseries (famed breeders or many funky heuchera/heucherella) so if you can find someone who regularly carries their stuff you might be able to find it locally in a year or so.

Robin, I know--I'm so not looking forward to the resizing! I don't use feeds yet, either, so I'm not sure if what you say is true about the reposting showing up as a new blog post... but I'm afraid that's what will happen.

(And I often make corrections after posting, too... why is it you don't see typos, like "Evn" instead of "Even" in my post above, until after you click the final Submit button?! Argh! lol.)

Entangled said...

Ooh, I love the lamium/rhododendron combo! I'm going to borrow that one. The lamium looks like one of the more silvery ones?

Me too on the Plant Delights catalog. I like the two checkboxes in front of each plant name - one to check the first time through the catalog and one to check when you figure out what you can really afford to buy. Did you see the Carbon Offset Credits form on p. 109? There's your guilt relief!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Don't get me started on my PDN wishlist - it's pages! I'm heartened to hear that you successfully transplant Hellebores. I have too many & need to give some away. By contrast, I think I lost 2 of my 3 'Ivory Prince' Hellebores. I could only find 1 when I looked yesterday. I think they got smothered by Lamium.

Ellis Hollow said...

Hi Kim: Late to this party as usual.

I started reading the PDN catalog in the laundromat Saturday. (Our dryer is down. Can't help but think how many plants I could buy for what it will cost to replace it.) Two pieces of PDN advice:

Set yourself a budget before you start through the catalog. You'll have to eliminate two-thirds of what you want to come in under budget.

When your plants arrive, remember they're coming out of a Carolina spring. When they arrive, PDN plants are the best I've ever bought. They bring me to tears when I open the box.

But they haven't been happy when I've stuck them right into the ground. Think about potting them up, maybe even growing them in a nice container the first year. At a minimum, treat them like your tomato seedlings. Put them in a cold frame. Move them in and out based on the nighttime temps.

Perennials from nurseries in a climate similar to ours I usually just slap in the ground on arrival. But with PDN, use a little extra care to protect your investment.

You know, this advice it too good to bury here. I think I'm going to turn this into a post.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Entangled, yes, it is one of the silvery ones and I think it flowers pink... but honestly I couldn't tell you which one right off the bat. I think that Mom saved the tags so I'll have to ask. I did NOT see either the check boxes (I tend to very untidily circle things I want) or the Carbon Offsets--I'll have to check those out!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I actually transplanted the 'Pine Knot Strain' hellebores at least 3x each before getting them into finall places, between moving them to the new house from the old and then moving them a few times here before I found their "real homes." (I hope that Ivory Prince aren't the kind that you lose easily--I have a couple of those that are new!)

Craig, I'm always glad to see you stop by--early, late or otherwise. But you should DEFINITELY make a post about planting up mail order plants from warmer climates, as this is wonderful information.

I wouldn't have thought about the wisdom of not putting them in the ground right away because of the climate difference... I would have been thinking more about getting the eucomis into the ground as early as possible so that it settles in well enough to overwinter since it's marginal here.

lisa said...

You are really going to like that 'Hab Grey' sedum! I was gonna order from Plant Delights this year, but I don't know...the stuff I wanted came to an expensive total, not including shipping. I'm "trying" to be good....we'll see! ;-)

Pam said...

Silly work. It gets in the way sometimes, doesn't it? At least it's not spring.

As for warm weather - we were in the 70s today, and a snake was out, wandering the garden. (That just seems so...unfair!). Congrats on ordering 'Solar Flare' - I'll have to settle for a bit of zone envy on that one, and just admire it from afar.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Oh yes, plant garden shopping... I resist the best I can and managed to only purchase two packets of seeds on impulse. I like to try and wait for heritage plant sales and the like but well... it doesn't always work out that way.

I love visiting this blog to see plants rather than snow and pretty plants they are too.

ALWAYS said...

wow thanks for that information

Shady Gardener said...

First of all, I've read that hellebores don't like to be moved once they're established. Other than that, I have a lot to learn about them!
Secondly, I have NO Idea about all the terms people use: feeds, blog lines, Google Feeder, nor do I know about using up Blogger/Picasa space. Will I eventually run out of space on Blogspot?
I just like to post on my blog and "walk around" and peek into other gardens from time to time. ;-)

thebench said...
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