Goodbye 2017 Gardening Year

With my windmill palms snugly wrapped for the winter, another gardening year ends at Woodland Cottage. And a new gardening year begins, with a fire to welcome the Winter Solstice and the arrival of the longer days that I love.


Posted under Garden maintenance, Southern Gardens, The Winter Garden

Imagining Spring

Now that we’re about at the halfway point of Winter, I start to imagine Springtime.  The days are just starting to lengthen, and the sun is just beginning to feel a bit stronger.  By Valentine’s Day, the sun begins to heat up the car again.

I’ve been AWOL for awhile, so may I wish you a Happy New Year, belatedly.  My desktop computer is on its last leg (a new laptop has been ordered); my camera bit the dust (I got a new one); and we’re working on a new website and blog design.  Those will debut this Spring.   So I’ve been busy with the help of my trusty computer guy, Jason; my brilliant web/blog designer, Peter; and my smart partner, Steve, who chose my new camera for me (it’s the bomb!).  We’ve got to update this blog–the spam is absolutely awful, frustrating and a pain in the you-know-what.

I’ve been on lots of fun trips this Winter already:  the Chihuly exhibit in Richmond, VA, as well as a visit to the holiday-lit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden; and yesterday, a trip over to a bald cypress swamp in Southern Maryland.  I love swamps.  I guess it’s that liminal space between land and water, and I love the mysterious blur between the two.

Last week, we got down to a low of about 15F, the lowest so far this Winter.  We had a couple of light snow events, and an icy morning yesterday, followed by the Spring-like weather today.  A couple more days of this nice weather and then it’s back to cold, as I’d expect this time of year.

I let the water run over the waterfall until just a trickle was flowing, then I turned it off so the pump wouldn’t burn up.  Here’s what it looked like, frozen.  It’s thawed out amazingly today.  [you can enlarge the photos by double-clicking on them, I think.]

Frozen waterfall at Woodland Cottage

Frozen waterfall at Woodland Cottage

And a few palms in the snow…these are Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) and yes, they are hardy–down to about OF, or the bottom of zone 7A.  I have some Needle Palms, too–they’ll survive even lower temps–down to about -5F or -10F, or zone 6a/b.

I walked around the yard today and, so far, it seems like most everything has escaped Winter damage.

Last week, just before the snow, I had two young red foxes bound into the back yard, a male and female.  Happily, I was able to grab the camera and get a few shots.  They hung around much of the day.  They are beautiful and healthy.

Just before the freeze, I went out in the yard and picked the few Camellias still in bloom.  I’m glad I picked them because I’ve been enjoying them inside for over a week.  They help me imagine Spring!  I float them in shallow saucers and bowls–“Camellia bowls”.  Many of the bowls are very old and were made for just this purpose.

I’m leaving in a few days for my annual time in Wilmington, NC, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with Steve.  We’ll be touring lots of gardens in the Lowcountry this year, so I’ll have lots to share with you.

Photos by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.  Thanks.

Posted under Animals in the Garden, Flowers in the House, Garden Travel, Random garden thoughts, Southern Gardens, The Winter Garden, Water in the Garden

Summer Pleasures

Hot, dry, cooler, wet, very humid, a little fresher, pollution, not, up, down. Summer is here! My favorite season. After work, I piddle around the garden at Woodland Cottage–weeding, trimming, potting, planting.

A view through the woodland garden.

A summer view through the woodland garden.

I’m just about finished planting all my pots for the season. I repotted all my big houseplants last month into larger, poly pots that look just like terra cotta, though they are about a tenth lighter. I like to use Pro-Mix as my potting medium. Repotting left me with a bunch of huge, terra cotta pots so I’ve been looking for places to put them in the garden and what to put in them. I have one big pot to go, and a few little ones. If I don’t get them emptied this fall in time to protect them from the freezes, oh well. Frances Mayes (‘Under the Tuscan Sun’) wrote somewhere about how Italians just cinch a wire around their cracked pots to keep them going. Those big terra cottas are expensive. I tried it on one pot and it seems to be working. It gives the pot a rustic look. I just used clothesline wire because it’s easy.

I love this combo...Variegated Arboricola and pink Ivy Geraniums.

I love this combo in a pot...Variegated Arboricola and pink Ivy Geraniums. It's a nice surprise.

In the evenings, once the heat breaks a little bit, I head for my back patio, sit in a rocker, and just enjoy my garden. Often, I read until it’s too dark, then just sit there until there is no light left in the sky. I love to watch the bats at dusk, hear the birds and cicadas making their sunset racket, and then I look up at the stars. At this time of year, the Little Dipper is pouring right onto the house.

Photos by the author.  If you copy, please link back.

Back patio bed with Windmill Palms and Mexican Heather

Back patio bed with Windmill Palms and Mexican Heather. This overlooks the woodland garden.

A view from the back patio.  That's Annabelle Hydrangea in the foreground and Nikko Blue Hydrangea in the background.

A view from the back patio. That's Annabelle Hydrangea in the foreground and Nikko Blue Hydrangea in the background.

Posted under Container Gardens, The Summer Garden