Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Long January Thaw

My friend Jo who blogs at Through the Keyhole in Yorkshire, England, posted about a walk she took today; she called the post, 'Grey and Dismal.' I could use the same heading here. This week, each melancholy day followed another with drizzling rain and fog. Nevertheless, like Jo, we set off for our daily walks around our property and felt better for them. Of course, we don't have the expanses of green grass you see in Jo's pictures, nor a Tudor-Jacobean house with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, to add interest to our hike. (Do you detect a note of envy? Check out Jo's post and you'll understand why.) Yet fields of stubble have their own beauty.

The top field shrouded in fog
The lower field with wind-damaged trees

The mild weather persuaded the fish to swim, albeit sluggishly, out of their hiding places in the pond. Maybe this one is heading for the crate of plants looking for food.
Koi fish seen through the protective net over the pond

Our walk generally takes us through the shade garden, along the Woodland Walk, behind the barn, down the edge of each field and along the road to our starting place. We usually make three laps. H.H. says it's about half a mile. Feels more like a mile to me.
Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' seed heads.

Hakone Grass Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold
The Old Cedar Tree

Into the Woodland Walk

In the Woodland Walk the deer have decimated hellebores and heuchera. Only one hellebore has a few remaining leaves.

Deer-chewed hellebore

As we walk we discuss the work we need to do in the spring and changes we would like to make. We will clear up part of the Woodland Walk and add a stone structure -- a cairn. Watch this space ...

Rain drops on White Pine

 When we near the barn, Billy peeps out. He probably wonders if we are bringing him food.

 Buds on the rhododendron give a tiny hint of hope for spring.

I don't think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder but, like Jo, I'm happiest when the sun shines and there are flowers to enjoy. Thank goodness for the Amaryllis bulbs I forced. They continue to give me great pleasure this winter.

Amaryllis 'Clown' has eight beautiful blooms today.

That may have been our last walk for a while as the National Weather Service issued a warning for a northeaster in our area starting tomorrow with snow, sleet and high winds. Oh, boy. But it IS January and this was a long January thaw.

Pamela x

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! I look forward to visiting your blog in return.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Perennial Plant of the Year

The National Garden Bureau announced that butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year, chosen by the Perennial Plant Association. What a great pick! Butterfly weed is a North American native, a butterfly magnet, and host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars. I love its distinctive flower formation: five petals that hang down, and five upright curved petals called hoods, each with one horn. It comes in orange, red or yellow. As you can see, mine is orange.

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly weed  has no serious insect or disease problems. (Mine tends to attract an orange colored aphid with no notable effect.) Deer usually avoid it even though it has very little poisonous sap found in other members of Apocynaceae -- the milkweed family. This long-lived perennial, thrives in full sun and average to dry soil. I have the perfect spot ...

I created a small pollinator garden with liatris Liatris spicata 'Kobold'; purple cone flower Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'; phlox Phlox paniculata 'David'; cleome Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen' (a self-seeding annual);  and, of course, butterfly weed.  As you can see below, butterfly weed and a few purple cone flowers are the first to bloom.

The orange flowers of butterfly weed bloom before other perennials in my garden.
The pollinator garden in full bloom.

Monarch butterflies love both milkweed and butterfly weed. I grow them in several spots in my gardens.

Milkweed Asclepias incarnata
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly. "One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." -- Hans Christian Anderson

Amaryllis Update

Amaryllis 'Ferrari' displayed eight gorgeous flowers on two stalks. When the flowers faded I cut off the stalks. A third one has a bud that is ready to open, so I placed the plant back in the south-facing window with 'Clown' and 'Picottee.' Clown has a bud but Picottee looks somewhat stunted. 

Left to right: 'Ferrari', 'Clown' and 'Picottee'
Bud on Ferrari's third stalk.

I'll keep you posted.

The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 17-20, 2017

It is nearly time for the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count when birdwatchers all over the wold document the number and species of birds that visit their backyards. I look forward to this event every year. Go to the GBBC website for instructions and a toolkit. I hope you decide to participate this year -- put the dates on your calendar. Here are some of the birds in my backyard today ...

Black-eyed Junco
Female Cardinal

I hope 2017 has started well for you.

Pamela x

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.