Thursday, January 31, 2013

Warm Winter Wind

After a week of bitter cold, a front moved through and we have had temperatures in the high 50s, up to 60 at one point. There was a lot of wind here (and a lot of storm devastation in the south and midwest).

There was thick fog yesterday, then the wind and warm downpours last night. All of the snow is completely gone. (Gail and I went skiing at Sundown on Tuesday, thank goodness we got a couple hours in on the slopes before the fog and rain and snowmelt.)

I twist-tied the tops of the twig pyramids to the bases. Now the whole thing will probably blow over, not just the tops.

The ground is beyond soupy, and I should not be out there tromping on it.  But I went out in the warm wind to cut branches to force inside.

I cut witch hazel, fragrant honeysuckle, fothergilla, forsythia, and a magnolia blossom. And a few branches of the Dawn viburnum.

I did not follow the instructions in the page at the top of my blog (under pruning). There they advise to put the branches in a bucket of cool water for a while, then bring them in and re-cut the stems while under very hot water. They also advise using florist preservative or making your own.


I just cut them and put them in vases of water. There were so few available to cut on some of the newer or storm damaged shrubs.

I have never ever smelled any fragrance in the teensy red blooms of the 'Diane' hybrid witch hazel. I see them, but barely, as they hide behind the withered brown foliage in winter, but never detected any smell.  Oh well.

I cut a few branches, although my pruning last fall and the storm damage that eliminated so many branches last year meant there weren't many twigs to choose from.

I brought a few in, and as I was putting them in lukewarm water in the warmth of the house, I DID catch a spicy whiff.  Just a little, and I had to have my nose right in the branches.

I wish the plant was big enough, with long enough branches to cut so I could bring in a whole lot of them.

Who could resist bringing a fat magnolia bloom in to force? I had the same issue with the 'Elizabeth' magnolia as with the witch hazel -- it had lost branches in storms, and there were so few branches to sacrifice, but I picked one.

The Lonicera fragrantissima is still such a small shrub with just a few long whippy branches, that I had a hard time finding enough to cut from that plant too. I brought in just a few, and I'm anxious to see if they bloom and what the fragrance is like. I've never smelled it or seen the blooms.

My little shrubbery of branches won't look like this shot from Pottery Barn (I think that's were the original pin was from), but this is my inspiration:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Being Busy in Winter

Very, very cold for the past several days. When I wake up each morning the temps are in the low single digits. Yesterday was bitter and windy and in the teens all day. Today the winds have died, but it is still cold, barely above 20 degrees.

Sunrises have been beautiful. When I open the bedroom door just after 7 a.m., the sun is a round egg yolk just above the trees, and moments later the four windows on the east side of the house fill with sunlight.

I'm keeping busy in January.

First, I'm chipping away at the hundreds of entries on my Inventory blog, updating each and every plant profile with new photos from 2012. Tedious and time consuming, it is taking all month. I do a few entries each day, but there are so many! But progress is being made. I am almost through all the woody plants, and will start shortly on the perennials. Phew.

I want to finish all of them before starting on the catalogs and orders and design plans and plant choices for spring. I'm getting itchy to get going with that!

Next, I signed up for the March 2 symposium that the Hardy Plant Society sponsors. There are two speakers, Katherine Tracey from Avant Gardens, and Joann Vieira from Tower Hill. Should be a good day.

I need to join the Hardy Plant Society, membership for the next season starts in September. They have some good programs and speakers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Single Digits

Very cold today, 6 degrees when I got up. But it is sunny and not as breezy as yesterday. A fine winter morning.

Snow cover has disappeared, so the plants are exposed in this cold weather.

I am surprised at how brown the bayberry (Myrica) gets in winter -- evergreen in that it holds all its leaves, yes, but not at all green.

I am glad it recovered from being lopped in two in the October snow storm in 2011. It has regained all of its top growth again and is the same height as before, although I can see that the lower half is denser and the regrown upper half is more open and upright.

In summer it is once again a big green wall separating the garden from the weeds in the meadow. I'm not really crazy about its dark brown look in winter, though.

The inkberry hollies truly are evergreen, staying a rich green color all winter. But I noticed when the temps get into the single digits like today, they darken up quite a bit, turning a black-green.

I can't believe how the rosemary is soldiering on through these temperatures. Single digits, and it doesn't look bad at all. And of course the hollies on the berm, and their big spruce companions, are evergreen and looking good even in this cold.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Birds in the House

The new sofa and wing chair came today. The deliverymen arrived exactly at the moment that Barack Obama was taking his inaugural oath, so I missed a momentous national event. But they were gone before his inaugural speech, and so I got to hear all of that.

There are birds! Birds all over the new sofa. Birds are in my house now. I like it.

Here is how it all looks, with the new blue wing chair too.

The sofa doesn't go with the deep red rug or its pattern, but it doesn't fight it either. The combination is okay with me.

The wing chair is actually barrel shaped and it is nicely enclosing when you sit in it. The sofa is stiff, but in a plump and comfy kind of way.

Pretty traditional stuff, but it does freshen things up a bit. (I like the sofa birds and the way the glass Murano birds on the mantel above echo the pattern).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tucked In

The sun is out after the snowstorm, and it is in the 30s. It was a heavy wet snow, tucking everything in under a blanket, but sitting heavy on the softer evergreens like inkberry hollies and the hemlock.

The stiffer spruces look good with their weight of snow.

And my winter decoration looks great.

I have to figure out a way to get a good shot of the four Tide Hill boxwoods marching diagonally into the gravel garden. This isn't it. I want to show the contrast with the linear sweep of the pea gravel and the defining border, with the boxwoods transecting it.  I'll need to keep working on how to photograph that.

I always love this wintery composition right by the patio wall.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tool Storage

Cold, snow coming tonight.  We had January thaw recently and the temps were up in the high 50s, but now a return to winter.

I finally ordered a tool storage shed to put on the patio.

It will go along the wall of the raised part of the deck. It's actually a storage bin for garbage cans, but I can use it to store all the smaller items that I now have to keep schlepping to the garage to get.

Shown in pine, but I ordered cedar that can weather naturally.
Attractive, for what it is. Made here in New England.

Things that need to stay dry and can't be left out on the potting bench --- gloves, garden ties, pruners, loppers, the pruning saw, maybe the small garden shovels, all the awkward stakes, bottles of spray, small bags of fertilizer, etc.

I'm not sure about the watertight qualities, but the sloping roof should keep rain off. I can always caulk around any opening with weatherstripping if rain gets in.

It's 4 feet wide, and only 2 feet deep. The back height, at 50 inches, is well below the top of the deck railing. Perfect as a small closet under the upper deck.

It will work better than trying to build something to fit in the two foot area next to the potting bench under the window. Jim tried to assemble a storage closet but that wasn't working out. This is a better solution, and it's pre-made. Assembly requited, I'm sure, as it ships in nine panel pieces.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Red Leather Chair

Lately I have been getting up in the morning just as the sun is coming up over the trees. The past mornings have been bright and sunny, and when I come out of the bedroom just before 7:30 a.m., the east windows are brightening and the whole house begins to fill with liquid light.

After coffee is made, the best place to sit and enjoy it is in the big red leather chair. From 8 to 9 on a January morning, this is the place to be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


We had visitors this morning.

The turkeys are back. I knew they were still around, but hadn't seen them in a while. There is no question that birds are descendants of dinosaurs when you see these big primitive goons walk.

And a coyote spent most of the morning on the hill up by the road edge.  It looks too big to be a coyote, so we thought it might be someone's dog, but it looks too wild.

Think it's a coyote? Yeah, I do too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Even Colder

It was 5 degrees officially this morning, no breeze, very still. On my own thermometer here at the house it was 0.


We've always been in a little cold sink, a dip between the two ridges that surround us, and a frost will hit the plants at the edge of the meadow when it doesn't affect any others. When it is still, it can be four or five degrees colder in the meadow.

The porch is down to 34 degrees. It has never gotten to freezing on the porch, but this is awfully close. The plumbagos that are overwintering in pots are probably not going to like this.

Thank goodness for the blanket of snow protecting everything, especially the rosemary.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coldest So Far

It is rare to get winter temperatures below zero any more. This morning was the coldest so far this season -- 15 degrees at 6 a.m.. Plenty chilly.