Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter in the garden

It's wet here. Very, very wet. Picture this kind of wet. No face plants in the mud yet, but it could happen.

So, there's been a lot of gray dreary days. Every sunny day in winter is something else entirely. The sunlight changes everything ordinary into something beautiful. All of the bare branches, twigs and stalks are transformed into shimmering patterns of light and shadow. The complexity is really difficult to capture in a photograph. Most of the time I end up with what looks like a picture of a bunch of dead twigs.

Japanese beautyberries in the back yard

Swamp sunflower stalks, rose 'Sir Thomas Lipton', rugosa alba, and beautyberries.

The spillover from the neighbor's pond into their horse pasture.

Crape myrtle and Bidens stalks
Sometimes a little of the beauty comes through though. Just when I thought the autumn show was done a few very colorful leaves remain.

Oakleaf hydrangea 'Dayspring'

The Piedmont azaleas usually have some color but they outdid themselves this year.

They even reminded me of the fothergilla that I planted next to the house this fall.

A new small Fothergilla 'Mount Airy'

Although the weather has been mild in terms of freezing, rainy days in the 40's make the cats want to stay inside. On a heating pad, of course.

Tommy goes outside more than Prissy does -- typically when I am outside -- but he's been spending a lot of time inside on the couch as well.

We still haven't ordered a second apple tree to replace the one we lost, so in the interest of research I ordered 10 varieties of apples from Tree-Mendous Fruit in Michigan. Next year I need to order the apples earlier. The taste was still there but my number one criterion for an apple is crispness and these were a little soft. Also, Tree-mendous was out of some of the apples that I wanted to try, such as 'Gravenstein'.

The hydrangea and azalea leaves aren't the only leaves left. Several roses still have leaves that turned very late. Below is a mystery China/Gallica cross nicknamed Delia's Purple.


  1. It is so hard to adequately capture the gray and brown beauty of the winter garden. Your description of very, very wet is our entire winter here, for the most part. Did you make applesauce? I got a bunch of apples and made the most delicious applesauce with them.

    1. No, we just put the apples in the fridge and ate them fresh. There were 20 so it didn't take too long before they were gone.

  2. Sweetbay, I think your winter photos are so beautiful! They just show nature as it is and I haven't seen nature not being lovely. If you really look, you can always find beauty in nature. Would I like lots of rainy days in the 40's? Probably not but that is not the point...
    What a cool idea to order apples and try them for taste before you buy an apple tree to plant. I didn't' know that this is possible, but of course that is the best way to decide if you really like the taste of a particular apple. I know 'Gravenstein' apples from Germany and liked the taste quite a bit, but haven't seen them in the US, yet.
    Your cats on the heating pads are very cute. It is so nice of you to provide them with something warm to lie on. We have a new dog, I just blogged about him recently, and we cover him with a blanket over night or on cool evenings. He really likes it and stay under the blanket sometimes even including his head.
    Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year! Hopefully it will be a good one for the garden as well!
    Warm regards,

  3. It's wet here too, and just when I am ready to complain about it, I think about all that water trickling down into the ground to recharge the groundwater supplies. I also think about all the lakes and reservoirs that will be full when next summer arrives giving us plenty of water when the heat returns. Of course, it would also be nice to work in the garden without sinking up to your ankles.

    1. We're above normal rainfall, Les, and have had two wet years. I reserve the right to complain.

  4. I can sympathize with you and the cats - wouldn't it be nice if Mother Nature would spread the rain bounty a little more evenly? Although we got 2 good rainstorms in early December, we've been dry again ever since with no rain in the forecast, although the mountains did get snow last week, which helps some with our drought.

    Buying an apple sampler was a great idea to guide your tree selection. Have you made a choice yet?

    1. Nope, not even close to making a choice yet. lol I need to look at heat tolerance and disease resistance as well as taste and have barely done any more research yet.

  5. The Dayspring hydrangea is a wonder when backlit by the sun! You are so right about the transformation that sun can have on the winter garden. We have had over a foot of rain here in the past week. Today the sun came out! I wandered around the garden, and I was like a lizard coming to life in the sunshine.

    1. Over a foot in one week?! Wow. We had a storm here Christmas Eve that dumped 4+ inches. There must have been even more rain just west of here because half of the pasture below the house was under water the next day.

  6. Things are still looking lovely there. The oak leaf hydrangeas are especially nice. You are right about the rain, definitely wetter than I've seen it in a while. My husband will be delighted to learn about Tree-Mendous Fruit. He's not interested in growing them but loves to taste different apples.

  7. Our December was rainy and gray, so I know exactly what you mean by appreciating a sunny day, Sweetbay. The cold is moving in, though, and we've finally gotten a little snow, so it's beginning to look and feel more like winter here. That is one smart cat to find the heating pad:) Love the oakleaf hydrangea! Wishing you all the best in the New Year!


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