Lessee......well outside I noticed yesterday during the bitter cold rains that there were dark centered leaves shining up from the browns of the raised beds. Focased closer and discovered what I was seeing was Lamiastrum "Yellow Archangel" that has started weaving itself from the two spots I've planted it. It was originally one 4 inch pot, spread along the whole extension bed running beside the western side of my front sidewalk. Now it's a thick, almost impenetrable thatch of silver/green leaves with long, wiry vining stems. So right now, with the cold, the silver has burgandied up and is highlighting the foliage.
Interspersed amongst the browns and tans of the dead foliage, are small, pointy tongues of irises. I see them all along the whole front bed almost "walking thru the beds, it's hilarious to see them out there in the cold. Everywhere I see clumps of bulbs poking out of the soil. Striped leaves of a little white flower I don't remember the name of, but that I plugged several bulbs near a really neat rock at the back of the eastern front bed. They're already completely up and floppy due to the little micro-climate of the back of the bed with the warmth of the house, the enclosed dog run and the southern exposure it gets all the time. The really neat rock my youngest son found down in our woods and hauled it up to the front and plunked it there, later I decided to move it someplace better and that sucker must weigh 50 pounds!!!! it's shaped like two camel humps.................
Another old friend and enemy is the ever present vinca major. I love and hate it so. I will never rid myself of it completely because it keeps me on my toes. I adore the deep blue morning glory like blossoms it has that unfurl like blue crayons in the spring, and I actually love the deep green glossy leaves it has on those thick, tough and sinewy vines it throws 24 foot or more. I have about a garden cart of it to pull up right now and a whole area that I never noticed under the old wisteria vine that refuses to bloom that I planted the single Kerria japonica under.
That tells me it's time to rip all of that out completely.
The Kerria japonica has taken over the area and I planted a Sweet Autumn Clematis that clambers over the spent vines of the wisteria rather nicely. But under it I see a heavy green stand of vinca way too healthy and the culprit of who's throwing those long vines everywhere that I find outside the edges of the far western end of the front raised beds. They get so thick, they actually can trip me up! Many times I've not paid attention when I was walking past and almost fallen on my face because I got tangled up!
Outside also is amazing tribute to the toughness of the Hellebore to temperatures. The large green palmate leaves shine darkly from the many patches I have them planted. I had no idea I had them in five places until yesterday. Their intense GREEN-NESS is what attracts my eye to them right now. Another reminded that I really need one good evergreen as a winter bones focal point.....
With Sugar slipping up and digging a small spot near the front yesterday, I noticed tiny shoots of daylilies lying just beneath the brown stringy leaves of last year's plant beside the roots of the stokesia she had started to excavate. That inspired me to hunt down more clumps of daylilies to see if there were more teeny little pre-spring shoots waiting for warm days to leap outa the soil. My search goes on. I'll tell you later. **
Little ferns turned out to be this years new growth of yarrow. Sun blushed to a plum color, they sit lying there in the various pots I have them planted in waiting for the signal from the fairy that's in charge of them to take off at leaps and bounds.
And speaking of fairies in charge.......the hens and chickens have tightened up to a dark, familar color of plum and unusual greenish themselves. Some like plum colored artichoke balls, others like the semps people attribute to hens and chicks. I also lucked up this year and discovered red-tipped ones and hairy ones that I tentatively planted in an old porcelin spagatti pot strainer and hung on chains. I almost brought them inside but decided that if they froze out, I'd replace them this spring when the cactus and succulents came at the nursery, but was pleasantly surprised to see they were tucked in and looking like little balls too. Even got a decent close up shot of them one day.<g>
The butterfly bush beside the nook door tucked in the corner by the wooden walkway has tons of silver leaves snuggled against every stem, thickly coated and just waiting for warm weather. I won't have the heart to cut it to the ground this spring. I will have to be brutal in the fall instead and spare myself the torture of all this winter silver.
Corydalis sits green too. A surprise to me, since I never noticed it suffered thru the cold temperatures. Now I look forward to see how loaded the plants are this spring with those cute little yellow bloomers they crank out. and that reminds me that despite that I lost ALL but two of the corydalis plants of the corydalis selection from Roots and Rhizomes, I will once again get another collection from them and THIS time NO harboring in larger nursery pots. I'll plant them in shady spots and thwo them against the winds of chance. corydalis with names like Blackberry Wine, China Blue, Purple leaf, and C. elata with fabulously fragrant cobalt-blue flowers and a variety that doesn't go dormant in summer for us in the warmer areas <g>
Inside, the jungle/desert is going along in distress. I just potted up a varigated rubber baby I got in the greenhouse last week, and the Triostar/Stromanthe I left in it's nestled pot. It's showing me it much prefers a terrarium enviroment by the curling leaves I get on it's distant relation, the prayer plant whenever I chose to buy one. I adore the various colorations on these leaves, but they always demise on me.
The Triostar caught my eye and as soon as I picked up the pot and examined the structure I knew I was in for a struggle to make it live in my drafty,dry heated house this winter. If I can just get it to spring where I can set it out on the sheltered deck........the bright pink backs that shine thru the cream and textured leaves are what drew my eye to them amongst the other foliage at work. I'm a sucker..............<g>
The jungle cactus is thriving in it's spot in front of the southern window in my nook. It doesn't mind the draft from the old window. What IS thriving as well is the Rubra and the Green and Gold oxalis I got from Logee's last year. The Rubra looks like a tiny, red heart leafed tree, and the Green and gold oxalis next to it looks like a small bush. Kinda neat the way they compliment each other and they both have butter daffodil yellow trumpet flowers. The Green and Gold way more than the Rubra.
The ruffled leaf African violet refuses to bloom for me, but the deep plum backs of the leaves as I gaze upwards assures me it's getting the right amount of light. I have started watering with Schultz African violet drops.
Out of desperation today I moved the Sago palm from the north bedroom to my nook which gets eastern and strong southern light. I'd hate to lose it, as it's just a baby.........
Today has been spent repotting up empty pots. I lost the goldfish plant. Repotted the "Green Gold" Rex begonia. At least that's as close to identifying it as I can come. It's ringed in deep maroon on the jagged, ruffled leaves, followed by a silvery greenish white and then picking up the same maroon splotches at the center that follow along the veins. My love for begonias has seated itself in my passion for my old passalong perennial begonia that is sleeping outside in my gardens. The fairies have tucked the little bulbils into the soil, and as teasers, left the funny little tri-cornered seedpods hanging on their wispy threads of stems dangling from bent stems. They shake and shimmer in winds and I'm sure every microscopic powder seed has blown to other areas to germinate or not in other places. The seeds are dust fine. The pollinators were those funny little hummingbird moths when they discovered my cache of bright, clean pink flowers.
The succulents are all sulking, the desert rose has dropped two more leaves, but I noticed it has 12 new leaf buds on every branching stem off the swollen and twisted "trunk" rising out of the soil and orchid pot the nursery planted it in so that tells me it's in a happy winter dormancy.
The cacti are all drowsy, some happy with the cooler temperatures of the back bedroom that lays off the north side of the house with the strong western window and two window's on the north wall. One large window letting in the strong indirect southern and western sun over the top of the house, and the other window in the door that leads to the balcony that has duct tape on the top and upper side to keep out the cold north wind where the jamb doesn't seal properly. Out on the deck, pots of dark soil waits in eager anticipation of true spring. It shelters assorted little spring bulbs I planted in my pot frenzy a few weeks ago with all those horded bags of bulbs I first bought legitimate, then in rabid compulsion when they reduced them all to 50c per bag and that meant awesome bargains.
That reminds me--------- and I cross thru the doorway of the back room after looking at the too green and happy privet that laughs at me from behind the windows down in the lower holler of my woods and look outside the other door that has a large window on the upper half and see the two window boxes I planted in bulbs sitting all cold and unyielding. I'm sure I've planted the bulbs way too thickly. But come actual showing, I will enjoy the show they put on for me and divide the boxes into three hunks of bulbs and plug them in assorted places late springtime when the roots and bulbs hold the soil close to them. The boxes can house up and coming perennials <g> I suspect the Armeria I adored was lost, and a few other little early spring bloomers. This time the soil mix will be part soil, part pea gravel to ensure return. and what better place for sunny loving little perennials that in 36" long window boxes? <G>
The doctoring administrations of my attempt to save the parched and stressed out Strepptocarpella I bought last spring catches my attentions as the pot drips, drips, drips into the garbage can sitting in my nook begging to be emptied of all the accumulated and thrown away catalogs, old bills and paperwork when we insulated the nook. It was a chance to clean things out and throw things away.
I soaked the pot and hung it off the brackets that hold up the bookshelf boards that house my many garden books to drip excess water into the open can. a full third of it has died horribly of dryness and neglect. I'm ashamed that I've not seen it's demise, but it was the front facing side of the pot and there is still 2/3rds full pot left to save. I've not waited too long I don't think.
In the kitchen, a much cherished Streptocarpus that Mary Emma gave me 7 years ago teeters on life and death. It never grows large, it never dies out and when it blooms, it gives me awesome white and blue heavy lipped trumpets that endear me to it. I'm sure if I gently repotted it up into better soil, it would fill up the pot it lives in. Or die horribly and it would be more devastating were I to lose it. That it lives in the kitchen window that faces north and that has a cold feel to it during winter is probably why it doesn't love me enough to grow into the more bushy cousin I'm trying to save back in the nook/den area where I had to put it. Come spring when I hang the pot outside under the overhang of the deck where it will get all the humidity and indirect strong light it craves, it will wow me with deep blue trumpet and heavy lipped flowers on looong stems. (the newer one, not my sad little try hard)
I was able to gently remove a stubborn section of the blue one and after root tone on the section, I carefully plugged it in with the other one that Mary Emma gave me. Success or failure later on will depend on if the house fairies are paying attention to my ministrations and help the little stem along.
Rose and Sugar come all excited to me while I'm doing this with urging to go outside and play. The temperatures have risen to a comfortable 50o F and I realize they're right. I need to go outside to at least repair the other bird feeder and inspect the growth underneath perennials in other pots scattered through out the upper portion of my ridge. That means look for Heuchera's, little sedums and check for signs of fern fronds unfurling near the Autumn fern's base.
As I gathered myself up, I check on the condition of the Ceropegia 'Woodii' or Rosary Vine I have soaking in the kitchen sink, pour some warm water into the vase of the bromeliad with the dark purple markings I'm nursing on top of the microwave, and next to the pot of wildly mottled deifenbachia the nurseries have bred lately. The kitchen is sometimes more of a nursery infirmary than kitchen. It's also served me as a potting room on many occaisons and I've often thought I'd rather have a potting sink off the kitchen somewhere with a counter, but I realized that I meant what I really wanted was a side porch. And that would mean enclosing the area I've already designated for just that, only without the sink. <g>
So I'm dropping everything for the moment and running outside with the girls to taste some fresh air and sunlight before the next wave of weather blows thru and I'm inside once again or back to work. ********************** Talk about being a spacy broad! <GBSEG>
I managed to kill a good hour outside before I got suspicious of Sugar and called them inside, that and the winds were changing and it was getting much colder. But what I found was like going on a treasure hunt! The Celtic knot pots I found at Wally world a couple of years ago I planted Pewter plum heuchera into. the long, straggly older leaves droop over the edges of the treated concrete pot and as I gently pushed the foliage from the center of the pot, I was rewarded with teeny little A-MAZING minature heuchera leaves in shades of wonder. All the usual colors--burgandy, dark and light green, cream, pink, silver. But in minature and deeply cut since the leaves have textural edges when they mature. That excited me and I ran to look at the centers of the other plants and was wowed by the same display. Teeny little perfect heuchera leaves just waiting for true springtime to shove past the old growth and floor me.
the many pots of sedums and semps have proven to be successes and disappointments in the same breath. Some just melted. Empty pots of pea gravel and sandy soil in silent accusational testimony. That's alright. I have the many pots of Micki's semps to tuck into empty pots come springtime. With names like Skrockii, Lennicks Glory, Raspberry ice, Neptune, Joy Belle, and Olivette.
Other pots sitting silently holding their secrets to themselves wheather they're returning for me or not. Only time and warm spring days will tell.
The damage all too obvious that Sugar did to the BBQ pit/water fountain garden sits in raw testimony. The rusty wires of the support frame lying over the soil, and once you see those wires, you begin to see other places where I've laid the same things over other spots she digs to deter her as much as I can without laying down chicken wire which I refuse to do. Or get rid of her as I am reluctant to do yet. Because I do love her. still.
I didn't take the time to search for daylily shoots, I was getting much too chilled, and after fixing the wooden bird feeder, I filled it up, topped off the other tubes and noticed that all the thistle socks were almost picked clean. Time to invest in some more thistle seed for the many finches I have.
A quick glance at pots confirms that there are tiny green ferny shoots of coreopsis waiting to expose themselves for who they are. Will it be Sweet dreams? Or Limrock Ruby? Did Tequila Sunrise make it? How about the larger tickseed coreopsis I got from the side of the road from a wild flower sowing in Tullahoma that I just pulled out of loose, rich soil and that transplanted wonderfully that night when I got home?
Already my mind is being invaded by fairy whisperings. "get more stacking pavers at work, we like what you did around the BBQ pit/fountain, change the extended bed beside the driveway. Dig up the Loosestrife that we helped jump out of the box and plant it somewhere else and you'll free up a HUGE space for some tall perennials this spring and summer. Find a sunny spot for that quadruple lilac you started in the huge busted nursery pot this year before it pops the pot to pieces. (four kinds of lilac's planted together, two of them VERY fragrant double white/pink ones, another one a blue gray called Mr. Grant. and another one I forget who it is......)
The sun is leaving brush marks on the sky as it gets darker, my skin is now tingling with the cold and I want to finish with this and send it on it's way to you. There will be more. The days are lengthening and soon I will be singing about the Hellebore buds..............all my best wishes to you wherever you garden. Keep me up on what YOU'RE doing too. I always love to hear about your gardens. Thanks again for letting me ramble here. and I look forward to hollering at you later on.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking a snowy English Mountain, in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36