Friday, January 1, 2010

A view up the hill and some of my favorite things (this week)

A view up to house, looking very open in the wintertime. The tall fuzzy streaks in the foreground are the seedheads of sugarcane plumegrass. In the foreground mulched with some hay are some young climbing roses, purchased from Ashdown Roses for $5.95 apiece in August when they closed their retail operation: 'Perennial Blue', Rosa moschata, 'Rambling Rector', 'Crepuscule' and 'Souvenir de Madame Leonie Viennot'. Just to the left is a 9-year-old 'Mermaid' that is now 24 feet across; a passalong that is supposed to be 'Seven Sisters'; 'Sombreuil'; and a unknown monster white-flowered climber that I propagated from cuttings a few years back and is now throwing out 15 foot canes.

The roses on the fence are to the left in this picture taken in May. The pink roses are the R. palustris scandens sold by Antique Roses Emporium. They are not a species rose but an unknown hybrid.

Anything that blooms this time of year is going to be one of my favorite things. This witch hazel wins the prize for holding onto all of its leaves. Once I had the fleeting impulse to strip the branches (look how many leaves!), which even more fleetingly dissolved with the realization that the flowers would probably end up coming off too.

Not only is this tree holding onto its leaves, it's holding on to them tight.

Oh well. You can't have everything in this world or in one little tree, which I started from the seed of a Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' 4 or 5 years ago. I was surprised that I even got anything from the seeds, and am actually quite pleased with the result. Yes, it hangs onto its leaves and the flowers are the more common yellow color (which I happen to like), but they are deliciously fragrant, much more so than 'Jelena'. Like all witch hazels it's very handsome in its summer garb and has a presence, and the fall color was beautiful this year.

Here is another tree grown from seed, a 7-year-old Japanese flowering apricot. I really love this tree. All Prunus mume have a good fragrance but this one is especially wonderful. I've noticed that with some cultivars of P. mume, the fragrance can go a little off as the flower ages. Not so with this one -- the fragrance is as sweet and delightful when the flower is faded as when it first opened, no matter the weather.

I ended up with 5 P. mume from seed in all: this one near the mailbox, another at the north end of the big perennial bed that has smaller dark cherry pink flowers, and 3 that are in my MIL's yard. Two of hers are a very similar dark cherry pink while another has large semi-double flowers that are such a pale pink they are nearly white. The dark cherry pink flowers do not fade with sharp freezes. I have Elizabeth Lawrence to thank for knowledge of this tree. Not only does she mention it in A Southern Garden, but there are also several specimens in the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. She was a graduate of the Landscape Architecture program at NCSU and JC Raulston fell in love with the tree after reading her writings and seeking it out.

The flowers just beginning to open. Depending on the weather, the flowers will open all at once, or they will open one by one by one and occur in waves. The former occurrence is more spectacular but the latter can mean flowers over several weeks.

This is the multi-stemmed American holly that fell over in Floyd and since rallied. For several years I tried to propagate this holly from cuttings. Unfortunately I got nothing. And hollies are supposed to be easy!

It's time again to whack back the trumpet vine at the foot of the tree. The first time we tackled it DH had to use a chainsaw.

Look at all those berries. Perhaps one day I'll succeed in growing one or two from cuttings and I'll have a single trunk-perfect Christmas tree version again. I wonder how this one compares to 'Old Heavy Berry'.

The dog fennel seedheads are still beautiful, especially in the golden afternoon light. Late afternoon has always been my favorite time of day, no matter what time of year. I love the quality of the light.

The late afternoon sun really lights up the colorful leaves of this R. rugosa rubra. They've never held on this long before.

My favorite thing of all this week might be a hot cup of coffee. Raw, damp and cloudy today, sun but 35 degree temps and blustery winds tomorrow. Either way that's hot coffee or tea weather.

Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Sweet Bay~~ I have to tell you that cup of coffee looks delish!

    I'm impressed with your propagation prowess. A Hamamelis from seed? And your roses... You've got a gift.

    Last year I purchased a small Prunus mume for bonsai but oddly, it didn't survive more than a month or so after I got it. I do remember how lovely the fragrance was.

    Love your photos.

  2. Happy New Year.

    What a great tour. Always informative, I salute your rose prowess. I planted a couple rosa moschata last Autumn, sadly one is struggling so I'll just keep trying to improve the soil.

    Roll on Spring!

  3. Wow SweetBay ~ What another wonderful tour of your lovely homestead. I love it any time of year.

    The Prunus mume are lovely and I would love to be able to take in their scent.

    Love your R. palustris scandens. That picture is my type of garden.

    Our coffee should start perking any minute and I'm looking forward to that first sip. It is 47 and feels like it is 37 outside. Brrr. Tues. night it is supposed to get down to 33 and feel like it's 20.

    Have a lovely weekend.


  4. We have three P. mume planted at work, and I really push this tree. Blooming when it does is reason enough to plant this tree, and on top of that you had the fragrance, wow! I wrote a small article on this tree for our company's newsletter that we send to customers, hoping to generate some interest.

    I am not fond of the colder season, but am glad that you have found some things to enjoy in it. Have a happy New Year!

  5. Happy New Year Sweet Bay! Wishing you all the very best in 2010! Wonderful post. I so enjoy seeing your landscapes and blooms at this time of year! Beautiful roses (the light is gorgeous) and you are so gifted to be able to grow from cuttings and seeds. Good luck with the Holly... it is a beauty! I too love the glow of afternoon sunlight. You have captured it beautifully in your Dog Fennel. I hope the weather is kind to your beautiful Japanese Apricot! Lovely photographs as always! Carol

  6. LOL, because i drink milk in my tea, my cuppa looks just like yours! I too love witch hazels. It's so cool you grow woodies from seeds. I love the genus Prunus and your apricots are lovely. But, wait, they're blooming now? Now? That's inconceivable to a Michigan gardener!

  7. Thank you everyone for your comments. Monica, yes, it's blooming now! (This is why we put up with sweating all summer. lol) It blooms anywhere from Dec. to February.

  8. Sweet Bay, as always your property is so beautiful - looks like a wonderful peaceful place to live.
    Your Japanese flowering Apricot is gorgeous - the scent must take it over the top!
    You and your family have a wonderful New Year and it has been such a pleasure getting to know you through blogging!

  9. Hi Sweetbay,

    As always, your softly textured garden is sublime. The Japanese flowering Apricot is a beauty. It's such a pleasure to visit your garden over this past year.

    I wish you and your family a Very Happy New Year, and I look forward to seeing more of your garden in 2010!

  10. Hello SweetBay,

    I always love visits to your garden. It is so beautiful, even in winter. I love that you were able to get roses on sale. Absolutely, my favorite flower...

  11. So much lovely color still in your garden, Sweet Bay! I realize some of these photos were taken earlier in the year, but with the witch hazels and the foliage now, you really have four seasons of garden color. Enjoyed seeing the long shots of your home.

    I'll take a cup of coffee, too--it was 1 degree above zero when I got up this morning!

  12. Great photos, I wish I could grow witch hazel. The coffee looks great, it was minus 32 here this the hot coffee was really welcome.

  13. Hi Sweet Bay, that is so impressive about the seedling witch hazels. I will look for some on Diane this year, but have never noticed any before. I would get in there and pull those leaves off, but that is the kind of task I love, tedious and repetitive. I wonder if you white rose is Killer, aka Alberic Barbier. It could grow 30 foot canes in one season. Love the dog fennel, we found one in the path and ID it from your photos. Coffee rules, or any hot beverage. :-)

  14. What beautiful views! You always have so many interesting and pretty things to share.

  15. Beautiful pictures, I especially like your Japanese Apricot, it looks VERY similar to my 2 Double Flowering Plums (Prunus multiplex 'triloba'), unfortuanely the flower buds are temp sensitive so we haven't had a good bloom for years. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the pretty pink flowers next spring. Great post. :)

  16. Happy New year!
    I truly enjoyed these photos you shared and I am admiring your homestead, very pleasing!

  17. The Japanese Apricot, is that picture taken now? Or? Any way it is really lovely and promising. There is a spring waiting!

  18. Your photos are beautiful. I love your roses.

    I had to laugh when you said anything blooming was your current favorite. We go from such abundance to "I'll take anything":)

    Right now anything that wasn't covered in snow would be my favorite:) It is bitterly cold and we still have 2 feet of snow and no warm up in sight.

  19. Sweetbay, a beautiful tour through your wonderful garden at a different time of year. I love the late afternoon sun too when slowly the shadows let the garden sink into a soft light. The flowering apricot is really special and I am sure a pleasure for the eye and the senses.
    Enjoy the fluffy seed heads and the dry leaves of the Hamamelis. Used to grow it in Switzerland, but it never held on to its leavers like yours. In summer the fence will be garlanded by the roses. So much again to look forward to in the garden, but it looks also beautiful when it goes slowly into a quieter, more time for rest and cups of coffee!

  20. I hope you're enjoying your hot coffee or tea while dreaming of spring blooms.

  21. Oh, I'm so envious that you have blooms right now! How crazy is that? It looks like spring already in your garden Sweet Bay. You really do have a green thumb ~ I bet I wouldn't succeed at half of what you've started from cuttings or seeds! Happy New Year to you and your family. It's been such a pleasure finding your blog this year.

  22. Thank you so much for taking us o that stroll with you. I recognized many of the plants as ones I also love. Did you know I got to visit E. Lawrence's home once? It was the most amazing tiny garden filled to overflowing. I wrote about it a long time ago. It's now open to the public I hear. Thanks again for the beauty and the memories.~~Dee


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