I've been spending time this winter cutting down privet trees. They've been growing and seeding in at the wood's edge since we moved the house and I can't stand it anymore. I hate Chinese privet. There are about a dozen heaps of limbs with fruit piled up next to the woods.
We've been putting a lot of mulch around the trees up top. The dirt up there is poor and those trees aren't growing very fast. We put hay on top of the mulch and I spread Bidens seeds to help hide some of all of that mulch come summer.
I planted a winter honeysuckle by the drive (one of several propagated from the one in the big bed) so that I could pass by it on my way to take up the trash and get the mail. The flowers are so sweet and lemony.
A couple of weeks ago we took a last minute day trip to Chapel Hill and finally visited Camellia Forest Nursery. We bought two camellias and two Japanese flowering apricots (Prunus mume). This even though I have several apricot seedlings in pots. lol It's going to be a while before those seedlings are ready to go into the ground though, if they survive. Deer or rabbits ate them almost down to the ground earlier this winter. I moved them up to the porch to salvage what was left. This week they've been in the house so they wouldn't freeze. We got sleet and freezing rain earlier this week (and were so thankful we didn't get enough freezing rain to lose power). It's supposed to get back above freezing today and the remaining ice should melt this weekend.
The other is Camellia sasanqua 'Mine-no-yuki'. Sasanquas are fall-blooming and typically fragrant. I have coveted this cultivar for years, after seeing it outside of the old Johnston County Ag Extension Building in Smithfield. It was covered in beautiful white fragrant flowers, growing next to a lovely pink sasanqua cultivar whose name escapes me now. The camellias were labelled, probably because so many people asked what they were. I planted it on the east side of the house after moving out all of the azaleas except for one Florida azalea and the coast azaleas from Sunlight Gardens. It was just too dry for them there. I moved them to the edge of the woods behind the house and paddock. Now the camellia's in the house since we expected a low of 5 degrees Thursday night. 0-5 degrees is about the limit of cold hardiness for C. sasanqua.
I love these new cultivars but I'm not sure I'll ever find one that I love more than the tree near the mailbox, grown from windfall fruit from the JC Raulston Arboretum. I gathered the fruit from underneath two old gorgeous unlabelled trees and my tree looks a lot like them. The fragrance is wonderful: cotton candy with warm overtones of clove and nutmeg. I've noticed that the fragrance of some cultivars like 'Peggy Clarke' goes a little "off" as the flowers age or gets frozen, but that's never the case with this one.
I grew other apricots from seed at the same time as the tree near the mailbox. One went into the big perennial bed and then died a few years later (borers?), and three went to my MIL.
One of her trees is small tree, with white flowers. From a distance the tree can appear sort of a dirty white because of the brown petals of the spent flowers, but up close it is glorious. The fragrance is similar to that of our new white tree, more perfume-y and less like spicy cotton candy.
The other two trees are almost like twins, and much like the tree I planted in the big bed, with cupped dark pink flowers. There was a 'Matsubara Red' at the Arboretum whose fruit I also gathered and so these are probably offspring of that tree. Like our new red apricot, the flowers smell like sweet cinnamon. They are bigger than both my tree and her white tree.