Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter color in Alison's Alaskan Garden

It's been years since I gardened in a cold climate.  While it's wonderful to have green and blooming things year round, there's something special about being able to put the lawn mower away and hang up the garden tools for several months a year.  When the ground is frozen solid, there's just not a whole lot of gardening that needs to be done.   While there are no blooms in my niece's garden at this time of year, there certainly is color like this venus fly trap by Fred Conlon.

Getting tired of waiting for this flowering crabapple to produce fruit, Alison hung these several years ago.  You can see that the tree now has fruit but the golden apples still look festive and fun.

While there was some snow on the ground, there was no new snowfall while I was there which allowed me to explore the garden beds.  Here you see the lush ferns that grow to six feet or so.  Well, um, they were lush just a couple of months ago!

Further along the garden path we see the rose garden (rosa rugosa.)  The saxifrage on the left is still green.  The coldest it got during my visit was 5 f  -15c but I've heard that this tough plant remains green even at -40. 

Caragana arborescens or Siberian Pea Shrub.

The stream Alison created is not so much flowing right now.

Look at this Bergenia.  While it is lying on the ground, it is still green and come spring, although it'll look a little worse for the wear, it'll stand back up and begin blooming.  A wondrous plant!

Beautiful birches make up quite a bit of the woods here.
No need for pesky clematis pruining here as they die to the ground each year. 

Brown is a color, right?

You probably guessed that koi cannot stay outside in the winter. 

I wish I had space to grow these!  Pyramidus bowlingballus 'Eight ball'  provides great color year round even in the most frigid temperatures.  However, snow does cover these for most of the winter.

I hope you enjoyed our little fall walk.  BTW, if your camera batteries get too cold, the camera won't function.  You learn something new everyday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Guessing Game

You may remember from this post  that I was breaking my Thanksgiving tradition this year and spending the holiday elsewhere.  Of course I wanted to go somewhere that was sunny and dry.  Here are some clues as to where I went.  See if you can guess.
At the foot of the guest bed was this "Danger Corner."  My host reads Danger Garden daily.  Hmmm.

Two beautiful and goofy dogs shared their house with me.

O.K. Whose bed is this anyway?

Although I was away from home, I was with my family.  (I'm related to someone in this picture.)

While I was sitting at my hosts' computer, this caught my eye  from the window.  Yup, it's a moose.  Do you see the nose of the calf  way over on the left side of the picture?
Here's the cow and her calf.  Like deer, moose are herbivores.  In winter an adult moose consumes 22 - 30 pounds of branches, bark, shrubs, trees each day.  If  one wishes for his/her garden to not to be eaten to the ground each year, it's best to have a fence.

You probably guessed by now that while it was indeed sunny and dry, it certainly wasn't warm outside, comparitively speaking, that is. 

One last clue.
If you guessed that I spent the week of Thanksgiving in Wasilla, Alaska, you'd be correct.  I stayed with my eldest niece, her husband, and their dogs and also my eldest sister & her hubby/dogs for part of my visit.  They were going to come to my place this year but instead decided to fly me up there and pay (bribe) me to get on an aeroplane (something of which I'm not fond.)  I am now officially a whore.  We had a great family Thanksgiving for while it was cold outside it was certainly warm inside figuratively as well as literally. 
Stay tuned for more from north of the Great White North.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Different Autumn Color

My entire knowledge about orchids can be summed up in three words: They Are Pretty.  Oops, one new learning, some of them smell nice. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good Bye Autumn

Although autumn doesn't really end until the winter solstice on December 21, it  feels like there is a distinct change at the end of November, the beginning of Advent, and that Christmas music EVERYWHERE....  It was sweet to see a few  autumn things.  O.K. they were on clearance tables but it was still nice.

Twins Madge and Marge insist on dressing alike for every event which drives their friends crazy!
This sweet orange kitty was happy sleeping on Halloween door mats.  I wondered if  she might be 60% off as well. 
Goodbye cool crisp days and warm colors.  Adios pumpkins and gourds.  We'll see you again next year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

New Arrivals

Some plant explorers travel the world risking life and limb to collect seeds, haul them across the world, grow new plants, and introduce them into commerce.  As gardeners we are grateful for these brave souls who allow plant explorers like ourselves who get into our cars and drive from nursery to nursery to be thrilled by new plants.  In one of my recent motorized expeditions to a nursery about 10 minutes from my house, I saw these new-to-me treasures.

Chasmanthium latifolium or Variegated Sea Oats which forms a nice perennial clump of green and white folaige. 

When the weather starts to cool a little, the leaves blush with and the seeds turn this vibrant purple color.

Ilex x meserveae 'Minnieves'  or Scallywag Holly.   The male is the interesting one of these.  It doesn't bear fruit but will act as a pollinator to your other hollies.   The leaves look as dangerous as other hollies but the points are actually fairly soft. 

 The bark has a beautiful burgundy color and the bush remains compact.  What's not to love?

O.K. all you big foliage lovers, look what that nice Hinkley man and Monrovia brought just in time for Christmas!  It's a beaufully variegated Fatsia japonica.  I fell hard for this one. (The plant, not Hinkley although they're both pretty swell.)
 Just look at that variegation.  Sigh... 

Guess which one came home with me?  Plant I mean.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November Garden Magic

November certainly isn't among the favoirte  months for gardeners in this part of the world.  Many abandon venturing out into the sogginess until spring and warmer temperatures return and admire their gardens from inside instead.  With the days growing ever shorter, being home when it's light outside is a rare treat.  Over the weekend while exploring the garden I found some little happenings that made me smile.

Knowing nothing about mushroom identification, I have no idea what kind these are.  Many people dislike mushrooms growing in their gardens; I find them interesting and beautiful.


The top of these reminds me of the caramelized sugar atop creme brulee. 
The cyclemen seem to be finished blooming for the year but now they put out this gorgeous foliage to entertain us all winter long.

Slightly frozen water droplets adorning Sedum palmeri which will also look beautiful all winter long.

And what's happening on this opuntia?  It looks like it's starting to grow.  Should I be worried?  Does the plant need to be inside?  Will the winter hurt this new growth?  There are several of these all over the plant.  What should I do?  I'm a cacti newbie.

Podophyllum delavayi, one of my favorite foliage plants will get a much bigger pot this spring.  As it is going to sleep for the winter, look at what it's leaving behind.

Lots of seed laden fruit which I'll throw on top of some soil-filled pots to see if they'll grow.

Waiting in the wings are next year's beautiful leaves.  Even in autumn, spring's promise is evident.  Hooray.

The passion flowers aren't in my garden but were flowering outside at Watson's  on the same day as I took the other pictues.  These made it through our first frost and will probably bloom off and on until we get a big freeze.  There was one on my back fence for years but it eventually gave up the ghost in a very cold winter a few years ago.


My wish for you is that, even in this dark and cold time of the year, you can find some magic in your own garden (a nearby conservatory or nursery works too!)  to keep you going until spring!