This Week in the Garden – January 11 part 2

Baby Heuchera Leaves 'Fire Chief'

It appears as though the Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’ has survived, and is already starting to put out baby leaves! The color of this plant is amazing, and was so glad to find it at the Lewis Ginter plant sale this fall.

Baby Heuchera Leaves 'Fire Chief'

Baby Heuchera Leaves ‘Fire Chief’

This is the third installment of pictures of the garden from the first of the year. You can see the first post here and the second post here. This post will mostly feature plants that keep going all winter long.

Nippon Lily

Nippon Lily

The Nippon Lily, also known as Sacred Lily, is a broadleaf evergreen with lily-like leaves. It stays relatively small, and loves deep shade. I have several groupings of this plant, which is originally from Japan. I missed their flowers this year, as they are small and usually hidden by the foliage. But in the shot above, you can see the red berries that form afterwards.

Red Berries on Nippon Lily

Red Berries on Nippon Lily

There are numerous plants in the garden right now with berries of some sort. I already shared the Nandina bushes, with their white and red berries:

White Nandina Berries

White Nandina Berries

Nandina

Nandina

Poets Laurel has larger bright orange berries all season long:

Poets Laurel berries

Poets Laurel berries

The low growing groundcover, juniper, has new growth as well as little berries. I’m not really sure what the brown tips are, but I think it is new growth.

Juniper

Juniper

And the blue berries:

Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries

Some other plants that stay green and really stand out this time of year include Euonymous:

Variegated Euonymous

Variegated Euonymous

This is a variegated variety, which has a pretty yellow striping to the lighter green leaves.

Detail of a Variegated Euonymous

Detail of a Variegated Euonymous

I’ve got two other )much larger) Euonymous bushes growing- one in front of our front porch, and there’s a gigantic variegated version in the backyard which has been left to grow wild on the edge of the property.

When one thinks of succulents, you think of plants that prefer sun, hot and dry climates. This mini plant has been growing in between some pavers in the front yard, and is still green this time of year!

Mini Succulents Growing in between Steps

Mini Succulents Growing in between Steps

This (maybe pink) Camilia japonica looks like it’s about to pop!

Camilia Bud with Color Showing

Camilia Bud with Color Showing

It’s been a week since I took that photograph, and it hasn’t opened up yet. Camilia japonica may bloom any time late winter through Spring, so I’ll be keeping an eye on this bush. I have at least ten Camilia bushes in the garden, and I don’t think I caught all of them blooming last year.

Lichen on an Old Fence Post

Lichen on an Old Fence Post

And lastly, Lichen, which isn’t a plant at all. Lichen is actually an algae (or cyanobacteria) that lives in between filaments of a fungus. They help each other grow in a symbiotic relationship, and do not actually do anything to the wood or other substrate they exist on. I had no idea until I looked it up for this post!

This Week in the Garden – January 11

Detail of Fluffy Seeds of an Aster

I found so much to write about in the garden over the holidays, that I decided to break up the first post of the year into three parts. (I changed my mind when I realized how long this post was getting). Last week, I was super excited about the Mahonia (Oregon Holly) blooming, as well as finding signs of life in plants that I thought weren’t doing so well. I also started using a piece of scrap gray mat board for better detail shots. This post will focus on the ‘dead’ parts of the garden that are so beautiful in their dried state.

Dried Leaves of the Japanese Maple 'Crimson Queen'

Dried Leaves of the Japanese Maple ‘Crimson Queen’

Finding the beauty in the details of the winter garden is easy. The finely fingered leaves cling to the ‘Crimson Queen’, as though they were hoping for warmer days just around the corner. Eventually, the cold winds and icy rain will pry them off.

Unknown Plant

Unknown Plant

I finally got a shot of the top of this pretty plant- I still don’t know what it is. It was kind of weedy looking in the fall, but it’s really pretty now. Here’s how it looked earlier when still green:

Not sure what this is

Not sure what this is

This plant is also about six feet tall. It might actually be longer than that, but I haven’t measured it.

Detail of Fluffy Seeds of an Aster

Detail of Fluffy Seeds of an Aster

I was playing around with the mat board and different plants, to see what I could get. I really like the pale ochre color against the dark gray.

Catkins of Harry Lauders Walking Stick

Catkins of Harry Lauders Walking Stick

The only difficult thing about using the mat board as a backdrop was trying not to get it wet. It had been raining, so everything was a little wet.

Opened Butterfly Weed Seed Head

Opened Butterfly Weed Seed Head

Before and After shot– Butterfly weed. Without mat backdrop above, with background below. Same pod, slightly different angle.

Butterfly Weed Pods

Butterfly Weed Pods

It really helps pull out the shape and form of the plant. Below is another butterfly weed pod that is open, but the seeds are still stuck inside. Anybody want any seeds?

Butterfly Weed Pod

Butterfly Weed Pod

The Bletilla (Hardy Orchid) dried heads are also interesting shapes- sort of like a blimp.

Bletilla dried pods

Bletilla dried pods

I didn’t look to closely for seeds, but I want this plant to self-sow as much as possible. I love the bright (almost neon) purple flower that sometimes blooms more than once. Here is a shot of it in bloom (I never did get a good pic of it):

Bletilla or Hardy Orchid

Bletilla or Hardy Orchid

I let the lemon balm go to seed this year- which may prove disastrous next summer…we’ll see how many baby plants come up. Lemon balm is in the mint family which can spread quickly and voraciously. But, I love using lemon balm to make tea and will gather as much as I can!

Dried Lemon Balm

Dried Lemon Balm

The little dried flower/seed heads look like mini-bells.

Detail Dried Lemon Balm

Detail Dried Lemon Balm

It is so cathartic to be able to go outside (in daylight) and walk around see what’s going on in the garden. Sometimes I really have to hunt to find something new, but it’s always amazing.

This Week in the Garden – January 4

Detail Mahonia Flowers

Happy 2015!! Right now I’ve got fireworks of my own in the garden–a Mahonia is blooming!

Blooming Mahonia

Blooming Mahonia

I was so excited to find this the other day, I love how the little yellow flowers look like exploding fireworks.

Bees Love the Mahonia Flowers

Bees Love the Mahonia Flowers

When I went out today to take some more pictures, I noticed it was covered in bees! It was very warm today (upper 60s!) so I was able to do quite a bit of exploring and picture taking.

Detail Mahonia Flowers

Detail Mahonia Flowers

I also realized that this Mahonia is different from the other two I have. Their common name is Oregon Holly, but I think this yellow-blooming verson may be a leatherleaf Mahonia.

Mahonia in Bloom

Mahonia in Bloom

The Mahonia in the side yard looks like this right now:

Another Mahonia

Another Mahonia

The bloom stalks are shorter, and the flowers are darker. I may have even missed the blooms on this variety. I think this is also the same variety as what is in the lower garden, seen here (taken November 2013):

Oregon Grape Holly

Oregon Grape Holly

I’m actually going to break this post up into two (one for next week), because there is SO much going on out there right now! Even though the winter garden isn’t as colorful as the rest of the year, it is sophisticated with a more muted palate, plenty of evergreens, interesting dried forms, and food for wildlife. My heart lifts with excitement for all that I find, including some early signs of Spring.

Holly Trees with Red Berries

Holly Trees with Red Berries

I found the two larger Holly trees do have red berries on them! For whatever reason though, I could not get a good, in-focus shot of the berries. And while I was looking at these, I found a white berried Nandina right next to it.

White Nandina Berries

White Nandina Berries

The red-berried variety is common, and I have several stands of it all over the yard (at least in five different locations).

Nandina in Front Dec 2014

Nandina in Front Dec 2014

The white-berried variety is not as common, and I only have one little stand of it. It’s hard to get to as well, so I’m not entirely sure how big the plant is.

My own Sensitive Fern beads

My own Sensitive Fern beads

After looking up more information on the Sensitive Fern, growing in my mom’s garden, I realized that I had some as well. I was able to find some of the “Beads” growing in a far corner of the property, by the stream.

Japanese Yew

Japanese Yew

It’s growing nearby this Japanese Yew. I’ve taken pictures of it before, but I feel as though it gets lost in its surrounding due the thin, fine leaves. It’s got an interesting form, but with the help of a piece of mat board, I got a better detail shot.

Japanese Yew and Nandina

Japanese Yew and Nandina

Here’s a shot farther back, and see what I mean about it disappearing? The Yew is to the left of the Nandina (with red berries). I am so glad I found this piece of scrap mat board (gray with black core), because it’s great to use as a backdrop in taking detailed shots outside.

Rainbow Leucothoe

Rainbow Leucothoe

Here’s another shot of the Rainbow Leucothoe (this one is in the front yard). Aren’t the colors wild?

Tip of Hydrangea

Tip of Hydrangea

And here’s the tip of a mophead hydrangea. This type of hydrangea blooms on old wood- and this tip is what will bloom next summer. This year, none of my mophead hydrangeas in the main garden bloomed because the tips froze last Spring. The varieties I have in my garden are generally well suited for the climate in this area, but last year we had a long, cold winter and had some hard freezes very late. It sounds as though that may be more of the new norm here, so I will probably need to find a way to protect my buds.

Deciduous Barberry Bush

Deciduous Barberry Bush

This is the barberry bush now–which at first worried me that it was losing its leaves because I thought it was an evergreen bush. I also couldn’t find any pictures of this area from last winter, and couldn’t remember it losing it’s leaves before. But a little searching and I found out that there are deciduous Barberry bushes. Upon closer inspection, I thought it looked like it still had life in it.

Barberry Detail

Barberry Detail

See the barbs? The little orange clusters look healthy to me. But now see the difference in the shot when I use my nice piece of mat board.

Detail Barberry Bush in winter

Detail Barberry Bush in winter

The only thing I haven’t noticed on my bush is any berries. Either it didn’t have any this year, or the animals have already eaten them all.

Not Dead Yet Azalea

Not Dead Yet Azalea

Another bush I was worried about was this small azalea. I know I’ve lost at least one azalea this year, but it looks like there is still life in this little one. I found a couple of new green sprouts towards the bottom, and come late Spring I’ll know what I will need to trim back. I’ve heard that azaleas can be hard to kill, and I couldn’t imagine what I could have done this year to make these established plants die. I do think that it was a dry summer though, and we did not have the irrigation system turned on, so I think a number of plants didn’t get quite as much water as they may have been used to.

Baby Sprouts on the Butterfly Bush

Baby Sprouts on the Butterfly Bush

And one last picture for this post– some new sprouts on a butterfly plant. I just noticed these the other day, and realized that on both butterfly bushes, there are lots of light blue-green leaves growing on the older wood. I thought they usually didn’t start growing until Spring, but I guess I was wrong. There is always going to be something to learn!

This Week in the Garden – December 28

Wreath with fruit

This week I’m featuring my mom’s garden in Southeast PA! I visited my parents for Christmas, and took a few pictures outside on a day of unusually warm weather.

Front Door

Front Door

First, front door with their “fruit” wreath. I thought this wreath looked so pretty against the newer black door. I remember most years growing up, my dad would install a spotlight to shine on the front door for Christmas.

Wreath with fruit

Wreath with fruit

Near the front door, out front, is this giant Rhododendron bush. You can see here that it surpasses the first story of the house, so it’s at least eight feet tall. This plant is about 30 years old, maybe even closer to 40!

Giant Rhododendron

Giant Rhododendron

Many buds are starting to form for the Spring show on it.

Rhododendron Bud

Rhododendron Bud

Also getting ready for Spring, some daffodils have already started coming up.

Early Buds

Early Buds

Out by the end of the driveway, bordering the neighbor’s yard is a large forsythia bush.

Forsythia

Forsythia

This will be covered in yellow blooms this Spring.

Forsythia Buds

Forsythia Buds

Sometimes I need to use my hand for a better detail shot. I suppose I could start going out with a colored piece of foam-core or something instead.

Bark of a Cherry Tree

Bark of a Cherry Tree

This cool looking bark is on a Cherry Tree. I like how it looks “zippered” where the two main trunks split.

Moss

Moss

This cute moss is everywhere! There are a lot of mature trees in the yard, giving moss and lichens the ideal environment to grow.

Brush Pile for the birds

Brush Pile for the birds

What’s also great for this ecosystem is this brush pile in the back- perfect for little birds, many of whom I saw hopping around it.

Happy Hellebores

Happy Hellebores

The Hellebores I gave my mother last spring are still happy in their pot. After transplanting them later after they flower, I hope they’ll really start to spread.

Asiatic Lily dried pods

Asiatic Lily dried pods

They’ve also left some dried heads for the wildlife this winter, including this dried Asiatic Lily pod (above) and a dried Daylily head (below).

Dried seed head from a Daylily

Dried seed head from a Daylily

And one of my mom’s favorites in the garden is this stand of Sensitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis.

Stand of Onoclea sensibilis or Sensitive Fern

Stand of Onoclea sensibilis or Sensitive Fern

It’s grown quite large over the years, as she has encouraged it to spread out. In the winter, it leaves these little guardians to tell you where they are.

Sensitive Fern in Winter

Sensitive Fern in Winter

Also known as the Bead Fern, for the little “beads” that are left in the winter months on this deciduous fern.

It can be challenging searching for life in the winter garden, but the more I look, the more I see.