18 January 2008
Memory and Anticipation
Yesterday was one of those perfect winter days (a drastic contrast to this one, when we had snow to rain and a lot of wind before everything just calmed down to mild). The sunlight reminded me of days to come, there was no wind, blessedly, and I took a bit of a break from my labours to stroll around the yard listening to the garden's secrets.
My big Catabiense rhododendron is right outside my east office window. Two bird feeders provide me with entertainment when I take a pause from whatever I'm working on, but the rhodo also entertains. I call it the weather umbrella, because when the sun is on it and the temperature is warm, the leaves open up their faces to bask.
Where the sun had gone off the shrub and the cool of shade was holding on, the leaves were still in their pulled down, partly rolled up, "gee we're cold" mode.
I was fascinated to find this one seedpod of Asclepias incarnata, still with its treasurelode of silk-feathered seeds nestled inside, peeking out like baby birds, wondering if they should escape.
Jim at Art of Gardening did an awesome post on Garden Blogger's Bloom Day showing off a splendid vase of physalis seedpods. I commented that I loved the seedpods when they start to degenerate and become skeletal. Curious, I went out to my patch (nicely corralled inside a raised bed) and found this one brave pod, still relatively unscathed, but with the ravages of time beginning.
I was surprised to find a few berries still clinging to the Celastrum vine; normally by now they've been dined on by hunger feathered friends.
This is the best time of year for my curly willow (Salix contorta) to show off its splendid branches and their twisty, curly limbs. Last year I cut off one small branch and put it in a pewter kenzan in my office, where it sprouted foliage and reminded me of a breath of spring for some weeks through the winter. Haven't gotten to that yet this year, but I can look out the window at it any time I want.
Just as the seedheads remind us of last season's successes, the buds are a promise of what is to come. My magnolia stellata is showing lots of flower buds; the 'Anne' magnolia looks like it's also got flowerbuds swelling, but last year was the first year in our garden, so I'm really not expecting too many blooms this year, as I usually expect shrubs to take a couple of years to settle in and relax before they start flowering much.
Almost as attractive as the curly willow is my young copper beech; I love the architecture of the branches, and how a few leaves are still clinging to the plant even while there are rich new buds waiting for spring's invitation to open.
As I said above, I normally expect shrubs to take a couple of years to settle in well before they start to flower in earnest. Patience has its rewards, and look what our 'Mountain Fire' pieris is going to do this year! This shrub was given to me by my nonagenarian plant hero, Captain Dick Steele, about three years ago. "Take it home and cold test it!" he said, knowing that some plants are challenged by the wind here. It's done brilliantly...and maybe, my confidence raised, I'll opt to try 'Valley Valentine', with its pink flowers...
Are you seeing spring promises in your gardens?
(Okay, not you Austin Gardeners, who are still blooming...but I still want to know what you look forward to come spring. And I AM trying to figure out how to get down to visit you come spring!)