Saturday, February 4, 2017

In the Deep February of Winter. . . . Some Garden Colours for You


As you can see from this post on my Instagram account, we've just had another snowfall this week, and we're apparently in for a week of precipitation at temperatures on either side of freezing.  The day before this happened, though, Pater and I walked through the Van Dusen Botanical Garden to look for signs of spring. Leafs unfurling upward. The sharp spears of bulbs poking through the soil. Delicate fragrances luring in the earliest pollinators, such a surprising expectation to indulge at this frosty time of year, but apparently not an unmet one. . .

This Honeysuckle shrub, for example. I used to have my own Lonicera purpusii by the back door of our island house, planted in that spot on the advice of the wise plantswoman who sold it to me. A bittersweet joy to recognise it in the Van Dusen gardens.... But the fragrance from these dainty blooms is such a spirit-lifter in February. . .
Hellebores, of course. . . .
And the most glorious day for Witchhazel, various types of Hamamelis blooming throughout the gardens -- stunning in the winter sunshine (although I would imagine they're also looking quite magical today, against the snow, and I quite love them on a foggy or rainy day when their colour brightens the gloom).

The plantings of Red-twig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) 'Midwinter Fire' were in sublime form. If you enlarge the photo below, you might be able to see the brilliant complement of red, orange, and yellow berries in the surrounding trees
and the soft foil of the grey-mauve vines that set off the "fire's" colour.


I won't tell you how tempted I was to walk away with one of these fallen cones, but I will assure you that I satisfied myself with a few photos instead....

My mother used to love winter aconites -- she described them to me so enthusiastically, I remember, as having little ruffs, like a clown's, and as she and my dad were such regular visitors to the Van Dusen, I couldn't help but feel, the other day, that she'd probably stood in the very same spot over the years, admiring these little guys. Mind you, she soon established a patch in her own garden and tried to settle some in for me years ago, in the shady part of my garden, 'round the side of the house on the way to the beach, but after a feeble showing for one or two winters, I never saw them again. . .
We have a 24-hour gig coming up with  4-year-old and her little brother, whose parents are due for a getaway. They're both great kids, but as busy as you might expect for those ages, and the Little Guy generally wakes well before 6 a.m., so I may be absent a few extra days for some Rest and Recovery....

Hope you enjoyed the garden walk, and I wish you a lovely weekend. If you have a moment to leave a comment, you know those are always appreciated.

23 comments:

  1. Great photos of precious winter colour . We are having a few days of sunshine here & spent yesterday up in the Yorkshire Dales where we spotted a huge carpet of aconites . Not wild , they were along the drive of a large house . Lovely to see .

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    1. Wonderful! A carpet of aconites -- the perfect February gift!

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  2. Whoops - need to put my name . It's Wendy in York

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  3. That honeysuckle is a very early variety. I've seen several posts recently with witch hazel, very colourful this time of year. Hellebores are lovely and we are enjoying the dogwood too in the sunshine. Sounds like you are making the most of your local garden. Such a beautiful place. B x

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    1. yes, it's a shrub rather than a vine honeysuckle -- I love it!

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  4. Hello Frances,
    Asyou say, spirit-lifting, indeed. Absolutely gorgeous photos that make me think this garden will offer you and your sweetheart much sustenance in the years to come. Soak it all in. Even though you haven't planted it and nurtured it yourself, it is there for the taking to enrich your life.
    In a funny way, it IS your garden. Relax and enjoy it.
    Worry not about the various bits of precipitation in the immediate future, Spring is on the way. Just look at those photos....it is coming.
    Happy week-end.
    A. in London

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    1. Yes, I will concede that it's on its way, but we've got at least a week of snow, slush, and icy sidewalks ahead. . . grumble, grumble ;-)

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  5. Still locked in iron freeze here in Michigan where I am visiting - its quite a shock to see the Great North up close and of course Canadians possibly don't think Michigan exactly qualifies! Its cured me of my desire to have a couple winter weeks in Maine, that's for sure, I'll stick to summer and fall!

    Enjoy your grand parenting time - their place or your newly feathered nest?

    ceci

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    1. I'm from a part of Canada that would never sneer at a Michigan winter -- we're generally very temperate, and the snow and ice I'm grumbling about now are really only a nuisance because we're not well equipped to deal with them.
      The b-sitting got canceled due to snow (which made their getaway difficult/dangerous to get to) and gastro (Pater's, then mine, a horrid case)

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  6. We're all craving colour these days. Lovely photos of emerging spring (now covered by snow, I imagine). Snow fell most of yesterday, but now it's all gone. I'd welcome a little more. My family on the mainland are posting all sorts of snowy winter wonderland photos. I think they are getting tired of it all.

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    1. Sounds as if you got your wish, no? I think there might have been another 'fall your way?
      (you know I'm with the tired-of-it crowd, sorry)

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  7. After my mom moved to Vermont, she & my dad would travel back to Boston every year to attend the flower show. She had a beautiful garden there & found gardening in Zone 3 challenging. Your comments remind me of her & her garden. Also she used to say to me, "If I knew being a grandparent was so much fun, I would have done it first." Have a wonderful time with the littles & enjoy your rest afterwards! Carol

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    1. Gardening in Zone 3! Yes, I would imagine that would be very challenging!
      See above to Ceci re weekend with littles....

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  8. Every year I find that my accumulated energies take me through winter right up to the end of January. Then my strength fails and I drag myself along for about six to eight weeks. That there is not a single holiday between half term (Feb.1st) and Easter doesn't make things easier. In such low spirits I find it very difficult to believe that spring will ever come. BUT: The other day I heard the fist blackbird sing from a roof across the street! So maybe it's true after all.

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    1. Yes, this is the hardest slog -- my ex-colleagues are exhausted right now, as I used to be at this time.
      So hoorah for blackbirds, singing us a bit of hope.
      Bon courage! You will make it....

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  9. I meant to plant Midwinter Fire but bought the wrong one and just have a dull burgundy one however hard I prune it. We take solace from Kew Gardens and have go to know it well enough over the course of a year to feel it is an extension of our garden which is disappointingly empty at this time of year through lack of vision on my part.

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    1. I've done that in the past with a number of plants -- picked up a Coral Dawn rose, long ago, mis-remembering that New Dawn was the gem....(I came to quite like the former, but whenever I'd spot ND in someone's garden, there'd be a pang. Not quite enough to shovel-prune though....).
      The first year or two we were figuring out our garden, visiting nurseries was a weekend "date," and we did it year-round, so that our eye was often caught by what was in season. Not the best kind of planning, but it did mean we ended up with year-round interest. Now I'm trying to figure how to add that into the small space on our terrace, which is quite dull at the moment.

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  10. Those dogwoods are amazing.

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  11. Went for a walk today and saw beautiful spring flowers...daffodils, snowdrops...catkins...most cheering to the spirits. But still in winter mode so still slowed down. I think this is what February is all about: coming out of winter mode and starting to go up a gear. Until then, learning patience. Walking in the clear, cold weather really helps.

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    1. Yes, walking will do it -- much less pleasurable when the sidewalks are dangerously icy, but a fillip of adventure, I suppose......

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  12. Such a beautiful garden
    Dottoressa

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  13. welcome glimpses of spring. Thank you for sharing.

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