Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Winter Walk-Off 2014 UNC-CH campus

Wheee! Did you feel that thrill in the pit of your stomach? It must be from another roller coaster dip in the weather. This has become an at least weekly occurrence over the past few weeks. On Saturday we had a lovely golden day of 70 degrees; yesterday and today, gray, sodden, and just above freezing.

In his Winter Walk-off post almost a month ago Les described his wish to run winter out of town, but it's still got us in its icy claws. There's been a real yo-yo effect typical for this time of year except that the down swings aren't usually this extreme. There have been lovely days interspersed among the wintry ones.

When we took a day trip to Chapel Hill a couple of weeks ago we had one of those gorgeous days. It felt and looked just like spring.

The campus and arboretum were filled with people out enjoying the beautiful day.

We wandered around the UNC campus and Coker Arboretum and the Gimghoul neighborhood. As we were passing Battle Hall I noticed (or perhaps I should say was hit over the head with) a scent that was like your mother's old-fashioned lilac perfume.


DH hates it. That may have been because there was a whole hedge of it. The fragrance
was a little cloying but I think one of these shrubs by itself would be very nice.

Several 'Okame' cherry trees were blooming.

Some Lent lilies were flowering beneath a shrub in the Coker Arboretum. I have some of these in my own garden after reading about them in Scott Ogden's book Garden Bulbs for the South.
"February in the South is a season of false promises. Unsuspecting blossoms are lured out during warm spells, only to be brutally reproached with the blue winds of northers. Strangely enough, there are certain plants whose peculiar demeanor suits them to this chancy weather. None is more welcome in gardens than the wild trumpet daffodil, or Lent lily, Narcissus pseudonarcissus." I love the toughness, the grace and the fragrance of these early daffodils, although as Ogden writes "If you want to smell their sweet fragrance n the frosty morning air, you must warm a blossom in your hands."

I think Saucer Magnolias are beautiful but prefer to see them in other people's yards since they are so often taken out by frost mid-bloom.

Hammocks are very much the in thing right now and could be seen strung up all over campus. Some of the trees had signs asking that hammocks not be hung on them.

Typically I enjoy seeing flowering quince bushes in other people's yards because the color clashes with my garden's color scheme (big time), but I really liked these crab apples. Beneath the saucer magnolias was a quince with soft white flowers tinged with pink aptly named 'Apple Blossom', one with pure snow white flowers, and this interesting smooth coral pink.

I love the fushcia and soft pink/lilac colors of these primroses.

I don't have hellebores in my garden due to the brown leaves and downward facing flowers (although I will admit they photograph beautifully), but these had all been neatly groomed and looked lovely in this large stand.

There were not very many flowers left on this Japanese flowering apricot but their fragrance was wonderful. More flowers than are left on mine, which was cut short by some very hard freezes and now has maybe a dozen flowers.

I wish I knew the name of this white apricot. Both it and the pink tree were labelled 'Whiskers' but they obviously aren't the same. When I googled 'Whiskers' I got nothing. This tree was spectacular: the fragrance, the double soft pink flowers that read white; everything about it was just perfection.

The best moment in the arboretum was when we rounded the corner and saw these beautiful witch hazels: Hamamelis mollis 'Pallida' and Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Beauty'.


'Orange Beauty'

On our way out we saw this beautiful Paperbark Maple. The papery swirls of bark look like that of a cinnamon dusted River Birch.

Hellebores on Gimghoul Road. I like the lime green Corsican Hellebores.

On the drive home from Chapel Hill we heard a winter weather warning on the radio. What?! Sure enough, the next day temps had plummeted to the mid 30's and there was very cold rain and ice and misery, much like today. Winter, you won't be missed.


  1. Ooh, secretive and mysterious orders in Chapel Hill, who knew? Thanks for joining in my Walk-Off Sweetbay. It is nice to see a landscape that would normally look just like ours by this point, but even though we are the same roller coaster as you, we seem to be about 2 cars behind.

  2. That's a very pretty walk-about. I'm sorry to hear that winter still hasn't relinquished its grip, however. Maybe the Order of the Gimghoul needs to see what it can do about that...

  3. Hi there, what gorgeous photographs. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  4. I think flowering trees in the spring are just about one of the seven wonders of the world--so, so magical after a long winter. (Of course, when they are full of dozing students they really are a wonder! Lol)

  5. It looks like you had a wonderful trip! Lovely photos, Ican almost smell the flowering trees:)

  6. Our weather has been the same. Great post!

  7. Same here weather wise...Lovely photos and I could hardly scroll past the witchhazels! They are wonderful against that blue sky.

  8. What a lovely walk! Thanks for taking us along, Sweetbay. We've had the same rollercoaster weather here, but no real signs of spring yet--even my crocuses are in hiding. That mass of hellebores is fantastic!

  9. I won't be missing winter this year, either! But I do think spring is finally here, as no temps in the 30s are predicted for us, maybe some in the 40s at night. Thanks for the beautiful tour! I can feel the sunshine. I can see why hammocks have become so popular there!

  10. I hope your warm weather finally settles in soon. I also had to look through your previous post again just to get an additional fix of green. It is still in the minus degrees here and snow flurries are forecast. It is so nice to see pictures of spring flowers. I love the faces of the little primulas. So happy! And oh to have a mass planting of hellebores like the one you see in a few of your pictures.

  11. What a glorious spring in winter! So nice to see cherry and magnolias this early.

  12. Spring has been slow to come here, too. I have a single brave daffodil blooming. I've never been to UNC-CH but what a respite from winter your walk was. Even my sweetbox is refusing to open its buds. But we have some warms temps finally coming this week so maybe it's a turn for the better.

  13. I have sweetbox, 12-inches high variety, and noticed the fragrance for the first time this year. That castle front looks downright anthropomorphic.


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