Greetings from Wilmington, NC

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

After what always seems like an eternity (in other words, getting through January), I made it down here to Steve’s in Wilmington.  I’ve been here a week and, already, I feel the relaxation and calm streaming into my body and the stress and tension slowly draining out.  The air is not all that much warmer down here–though I don’t sense the chill that emanates from the ground in Arlington at this time of year–yet the sun is much, much brighter, warmer, and intense.  It’s done wonders for my outlook!

We’ve had lots of rain.  That’s a good thing since there have been many years of drought and heat down here and the soil is practically all sand.  Great for digging (compared to the rocky clay in Arlington); not so great for holding moisture or nutrients.

With the rain and warmer sun, the plants are responding with bloom.

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

One of Wilmington’s crown jewels is the annual Azalea Festival.  This year, it’s happening April 10th-14th.  The entire town is filled with blooming Azaleas, gorgeous gardens (there’s a big fundraising tour) and glamorous belles–yes, in hoop skirts.  I was asked to write an article on a couple of the featured gardens for the April issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine. Today, I met my charming contact and she took me by two of the gardens.  They are all that and some change, and I can’t wait for you to see them…but for that you’ll have to wait.  Meantime, I did snap some close-ups of flowers in these two gardens, and I’m sharing those here.

Camellias...

Camellias...

Forsythia...

Forsythia...

Variegated Winter Daphne

Variegated Winter Daphne...

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

Tomorrow, we are heading South for a week in the Low Country:  Charleston and Beaufort, SC, and Savannah, GA.  We can’t wait to get to our beloved Low Country and savor the gardens, history, architecture, and surprises along the way.  We want to explore the Sea Islands and see as many plantations and gardens as we can.

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

Posted under Fragrance in the garden, Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Gardeners, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, The Winter Garden, Travel

Kinda Pretty Here in Arlington Right Now

Beautiful week one is now running into beautiful week two here at Woodland Cottage.  It’s astounding.  I’ll let the pics speak.

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica

The same Camellia, looking out through the dining room windows...

The same Camellia, looking out through the dining room windows...

The Loropetalum has never been more floriferous…

Loropetalum chinense 'Zhuzhou'

Loropetalum chinense 'Zhuzhou'

Heavenly scent…

Variegated Daphne

Variegated Daphne

Pieris japonica

Pieris japonica

Vinca minor

Vinca minor

Corydalis

Corydalis

Edgeworthia papyrifera (against an English Boxwood)

Edgeworthia papyrifera (against an English Boxwood)

A beloved, late-blooming pink Camellia japonica

A beloved, late-blooming pink Camellia japonica

Posted under Climate Change, Fragrance in the garden, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

Baby Steps

After the glorious spring-thaw weather last week, we have stepped back slowly into winter.  February can be either brutal or a one-step-forward, one-step-back type of month.  I think February is the worst month…you can finally feel the sun again, yet the air just will not let go of winter.  And it is often the snowiest time, too.

Yet the garden is taking its baby steps toward spring.  We are so lucky here in the upper South–we really do have the opportunity to have a four-season garden.  There is always something of interest going on.  Here in my garden, the Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, have just started blooming.  The Hellebores (Lenten Roses, Helleborus x orientalis, Stinking Hellebore, H. foetidus, and Christmas Rose, H. niger) are all pushing up their flower buds.  Before we know it, they will be in bloom.  I’ve seen Daffodils and Crocus pushing up.  The Leatherleaf Mahonia, Mahonia bealei, is just about to break into bloom.  I love its fragrant, cheerful, long-lasting flowers.

Actually, almost all of the early bloomers have a powerful fragrance.  Winter Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima; Winter Daphne, Daphne odora; Sweetbox, Sarcoccocca hookeriana…you can smell all of these half a block away.  And they will all be in bloom very soon here in growing zone 7.

Once the Forsythia and Camellias start to bloom in a few weeks, it’s all over but the cryin’ (or should I say laughin’ since it will be SPRING!) :-)   It’s time to start getting outside, walking around your own garden, and seeing what is beginning to stir.  I think you will be surprised.

Winter Daphne

Winter Daphne

Posted under The Winter Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 23, 2010

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