Last week I was frolicking with the Sandhill Cranes on the golf course in Titusville, FL. My Mom has a winter home there and mid-January seemed a good opportunity to visit with her and enjoy the warmth. Timing is everything. I was away when the cold arctic air descended on much of the country last week. Florida was sunny and relatively warm. When one leaves the garden for a week in June there are drastic changes. In January, not so much. The only major change was to the thermometer. There were subtle changes. The rhododendron leaves exhibit a curling response to the cold and when it is very cold, they really shiver. There was a sprinkling of snow on the garden when I returned. When the temperature dips to single digits it is best to have a heavy blanket on the beds both inside and out.Some things are out of our control and only time will tell if the low temps have caused any major damage. Many gardeners take chances with plants which are on the edge of their hardiness zone. I rarely take that chance any longer. Mother Nature has trained me in this regard. What about you? Do you have any 'On Edge' plants which you are worried about this winter?
January is a challenging month for a New England Bloom Day post. The snow has receded as temperatures rose to 58F the day before Bloom Day. I did check for little blooms but there are none. Well one. The reliable Helleborus foetidus is seen above and it has a good long bloom time in spite of its bedraggled, winter damaged foliage. It started blooming prior to Christmas and will continue for another couple of months. Yes, you will see it here in February if the snow is not covering it. I am also counting this allium seed head. It looks like a flower even though it is just the ragged remnants of one. Inside is a different story and there are a couple of houseplants in bloom. The begonias don't even need to bloom since their leaves are so very interesting. These little pink flowers are pretty though and if I keep this plant appropriately watered, more will continue to develop.The violet in the glass terrarium is still blooming and the amaryllis flowers are brightening the windowsill. I am going to petition Carol, hostess of Bloom Day, to take pity on us northern gardeners and call it Birds and Bloom Day. I think this woodpecker is pretty enough to count as a bloom. How about it Carol? No worries, thank you for hosting Bloom Day through the dull days of winter. I can at least visit other garden blogs to help get me through these short days.
'All Creatures Welcome' is what the sign would say if Kris Green had one inviting passersby into her garden. The chairs sit empty but inviting in the center of the garden. They are begging for a rump or two to sit and survey the quiet complexity of this verdant space. There is the resident pup, Nino, seen here surveying the kingdom and then there is the pollinator condo Kris has devised to provide an invitation to visit and a bit of security for nature's winged critters. I imagine some crawlers lodge here as well. All are invited. Kris is a fellow blogger, an Interpretive Horticulturist at Blithewold and a friend and this past summer I was invited to visit her garden in Bristol, RI. Now, we both live in the same state and the smallest state at that but Bristol is right on the ocean and my garden sits in the western hills a full zone colder than Kris's garden. That is one reason it is such a fun to visit. She easily grows this Clerodendron shrub which would succumb to cold in my garden. (Perhaps I should give it a try.) There are other treats as well. Monarda punctata adds subtle color and wonderful form to the front border. Kris has a creative eye along with busy hands making a small but sensory packed jewel of a garden. She has an artist's eye as evidenced by her clear mastery of texture and color. The echo combination of agastache and cleome is just one example. She knows full well that August can be a tired time in the garden and she has embraced the nuances of lace and leather here in the borders. If you happen to sit in the chairs, there is a lovely view of the deck complete with perfectly potted plants and upon entering the house, it is clear that an artist and gardener lives inside. The living room even has a living wall. Kris was born with her unique perspective which she has honed in life along with her horticultural skills. She works in the greenhouse and gardens at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens and she writes their blog with wit and wisdom and always a quick turn of phrase which you can read here. We can all look forward to more of Kris's writings as she is completing work on a new book, the contents of which remain a mystery. Due out in the fall, it promises to be filled with a fresh approach to the age old art of gardening. While Kris is never in anyones shadow, she prefers to keep a low profile but should you stop in at Blithewold, take the time to talk with Kris and also with Gail, Dan and Fred. You will recognize her from her smiling picture above and herestanding just behind and to the right of the enigmatic and always interesting Michael Dirr. Thank you to Kris for a lovely day in her garden with her, Nino and the critters.
When it looks like this outside, the inside garden provides a bit of sanctuary. Really, there is little to see outside in the garden with snow on the ground. I will go take a closer look tomorrow morning but right now, the indoor garden is providing a bit of green relief. Are any of you interested in aeriums? Aeriums are like a terrarium but with no 'terra', just air. I am not sure who coined the term. Perhaps it was Flora Grubb Gardens which sells a wide variety of these interesting little worlds. If you can find the glass globes, glass teardrops, glass cubes or clear wall vases at your own local garden center you can pretty much make your own with bits and pieces of lichen covered twigs and ground lichens along with dried moss. You could use a small glass container of any sort. Tillandsias are also now easy to find at most garden centers. If you can't find them you could mail order them if necessary. Tillandsias are in the bromiliad family. Called air plants,they take their nutrients from the moisture in the air, decaying leaves and the surrounding environment of their native habitat. They are native to Central and South America, the southern United States and Mexico. Once you nestle your little tillandsia inside a clear container with any bits and pieces you like, you will need to mist it every now and then. It seems that once something is put in glass, whether it is an air plant, a garden of small plants or even inanimate objects such as those in snow globes, the object or objects become deserving of a bit more attention. Tiny little self-contained worlds are that much more interesting to look at and enjoy. These tiny, miniature gardens seem to help ward off the fatigue of winter and they require little care. I am enjoying them along with the terrariums in the indoor garden. Have you tried adding them to your plant collection? Will you?