This morning too. Everything is still covered in ice.
Central NC, like much of the country, is experiencing a spell of real winter weather this week. I am rejoicing in the cold because I am hoping it will kill the ticks, as they had become active again in the mild December and January temps. Ugh. Obviously there were advantages to the relatively dry warm winter we had in 2011/2012 ~ nice footing, an overall easy winter, and in the spring, an unprecedented crop of figs and a magnificent display from the 'Climbing Old Blush' as it didn't experience any dieback. But, (and why is there always a but? Why can't we just have advantages without disadvantages??) the ticks over the spring and summer were horrendous. In every other year but last year the garden was a tick free zone. Ticks were only a problem in wild unmown places in May and perhaps June, and therefore easy to avoid, and then as the summer got dry and hot as it often does they'd die out completely. Not last year. It got hot all right ~ very very hot ~ but we had rain too, so the ticks kept on thriving, right through the first freeze. I rather like spiders and snakes but ticks ~ blech. At least none of us got any tick-borne illnesses. Yes, horses can get those too.
Now, everything is reassuringly frozen and yesterday sleezing rain was ticking down steadily. We had a beautiful sunny if cold week before today. Is there anything more beautiful than a sunny winter's day? No doubt part of the appeal is the contrast to the depth-of-despair gray doldrums of an overcast day in January, but when the sun comes out a magical transformation occurs. Light floods the world with beauty and makes it a masterpiece. Difficult to photograph though. What catches the eye as golden light filling the spaces between old stems and blades of grass and the dance of light and shadow in the air and on the ground looks like overexposed patches of bare ground where I have cleared and a jungle of falling over brown stalks where I haven't.
This area at the back of the big perennial bed used to be filled with Eastern Columbine, but the four o'clocks crowded them out. I started a four o'clocks elimination program in this bed last year; I shouldn't have planted them in this bed in the first place. They seed in too aggressively. I just planted 'Curlew' Narcissus bulbs in all of the blank spaces. 'Curlew' is an ivory daff in the jonquil family. I ordered 350 daffodil bulbs from Van Engelen last year; 'Curlew', 'Hillstar', 'Sweet Love' and 'Thalia' to help fill in under the bare knees of the baptisia when they bloom. Once the baptisias' leaves fill out they cast dense shade underneath; in a grouping of baptisias ephemerals look like the best strategy.
Typical of NC, temps will be back up to 70 by Tuesday and Wednesday. Currently the sun is back out and ice is falling like rain.