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!)


  1. Great pictures as always! Does curly willow grow well in hotter climates like South Eastern USA? I adore them, they are so whimsical looking.

  2. Hi Jodi, I have several promises of spring in the garden. I have a peris but not a pink one. There is forsythia, pussy willow, magnolia all with buds. I will have to have a look around again to see if there is anything else spring-like. We are to have the two coldest days of winter so far tomorrow and sunday.

  3. How I would love to see some spring promises in my garden! At -40, spring seems like a distant dream. Instead I will enjoy yours.

    The curly willow is really cool. I love the colour of the Pieris. I hope you try 'Valley Valentine' - with a name like this, it has to be special.

  4. Love your garden pictures and your cats, though I'm a dog person and only an amateur gardener.

  5. Nicely done, Jodi. Seed pods bring such joy throughout the winter, and make for wonderfully patient photography subjects.

    Queen Annie - the Corkscrew Willow grows great in the sunny Southeast.

    Time to go walk my gardens and see what's shakin'.

  6. Love your curly willow.

    Love the cats as well. I think you may have as many as we do!

    Loved your blog. I'm glad I stumbled upon it. I'll be back.

  7. I love your promises of spring. I may go out with my camera today and see what I can find in my own meager gardens! I had never looked at my rhododendran leaves like that....I just saw them as ugly when they curl and look cold. I will watch them more closely now. I enjoy visiting your blog every day. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for taking us on your walk. Why don't you drive down to my place and fly with me to the Spring Fling! I will hold your hand! Lots of bloggers don't like to fly. I haven't booked a ticket yet but I would love to go! Get a passport so you will be ready!

  9. That pieris of yours looks wonderful and I love that curly willow too.

    There's a lot of promise in my garden. I worked in my garden this week as it was so mild outside (around 10 to 12 C) and found serveral herds ;-) of snowdrops about to flower and the dafs are poking their noses through the soil and so many plants are developing buds. Spring is on its way!

  10. I had to laugh at the before & after shots of the rhodo. That kind of reminds me of my yew hedge. Usually it's green, but now, with this subzero (F) weather, it's turned nearly black. It's too cold here to look for signs of Spring. I'll just enjoy yours.

  11. I'm frightened of Rhodos though that wouldn't stop me from trying, I'm running out of space! Sometimes, I think I need to buy a property just for garden experimenting! Anyhow, is this a new format for your blog? If not, then I forgot how attractive it was. I agree with you that the copper beech is lovely.

  12. Rhododendrons always look like they're hugging themselves in the cold. :) Strolling through your garden is lovely any time of year.

    The only promise of spring I see on my now bird-littered balcony is a few stray sunflower seeds which never fail to sprout.

  13. Jodi, we'd love to see you at the Spring Fling. Thanks for putting our badge up. Now get that passport, and we'll see you soon!

  14. I LOVE the photos you posted of the seedpods against the blue and white backdrop of snow. SO beautiful!

    It's already "spring" in our garden (it always starts in January). I've had 4 stalwart daffodil blooms for a couple of weeks now. And the rudbeckia never stopped blooming--weird!

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  15. Queen Annie, guess Debi at Giraffe Head answered--I would have also thought so--and they're not usually an expensive tree, so give it a go.

    Lisa, cold enough for you yet? It's zero F here tonight, and of course windy. I'm very grateful I got that mulch spread a few days ago.

    Kate, I'm with you about the weather...we're nearing - 40 but not quite there, even with wind chill. But we know spring will come again.

    Book Bird Dog, thanks for visiting--and don't call yourself 'only' an amateur gardener. We all are, to some extent, because there is always more to learn.

    Debi, thanks for the info about the willow for Queen Annie. Seed pods are just great, aren't they?

    Sherry, welcome! Glad you stumbled in--and I stumbled right over for a visit back.

    Mary, hope you found some spring promises in your garden too.

    Layanee, that's tempting...I'm going to look really carefully at a few things regarding logistics, as April is a hairy month for me workwise. But what will be will be.

    Yolanda, herds of snowdrops sound good to me! They are such darlings, so brave in some ways yet stubborn for me. We finally have several small herds (more like herdlets so far) established here, and more planted each year, so I live in hope.

    MMD, as you know, we've joined you in the fro-zone. Will your yew hedge be okay? (I have no yew here so I don't notice it around the area; there's a gold-green one that i thought I might like.

    Ottawa Gardener: try a decidous azalea first if you're worried about rhodos. Not only do they drop their leaves in winter, they're hardy (well, many of them are--look for the 'Lights' collection which have some great choices), come in terrific colours and some are fragrant. They also don't get as big as many of the rhodos. You can also try one of the dwarf rhodos like 'Ramapo'.

    Nancy, I like the description of rhodos hugging themselves--exactly right!

    Pam, I'll do my best...passport applications can be ordeals here, but I'm gonna start by (sigh) getting my photo taken. Ick.

    Cindy, I'll just soak up your spring while we wait for it to make its way here--months away yet, but we're already nearly a month past Christmas, isn't that amazing?


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