Gardening where the sidewalk ends

GBBD January 15, 2010 January 14, 2010

Filed under: flora,Garden Bloggers Bloom Day — greenwalks @ 10:55 pm
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Twenty-ten? Two thousand ten? How are you getting your head around this year so far? I can’t even decide how to pronounce it. So much for starting the year with the courage of my convictions!

In the garden at this time of year in Seattle, there is a lot that could be blooming. We are pretty fortunate in our weather, even if it comes with a lot of gray skies and precipitation, since it keeps things looking fairly green and fresh all winter if we have been smart or lucky enough to have put in the right plants for interest during this season.

Despite vague thoughts about adding plants that would look good at this time of year, it’s just the same old standbys here, most of which were here when we arrived. Whoever designed this landscape definitely had this time of year in mind, since there’s much more going on now than I would have thought to include.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’). I will never get tired of this tree. Or is it a shrub? I take millions of pictures of it, in nearly every season, and look at it from my seat at the family table every day of the year. I even like it when its branches are bare and providing snacks for squirrels. It’s a great tree for the small garden and provides many seasons of spectacular interest.

Witch hazel 'Jelena' flowers

Sweet box (Sarcococca confusa) – smells so heavenly, I wish I could put a scent in a blog post! Glossy green leaves year-round, cute black berries in winter, happy in poor soil and part to full shade. Used to take this one for granted but now I couldn’t do without it. (Tangled mess in the background is one of the two red-twig dogwoods that desperately need some decisive and drastic pruning, soon!)

Sarcococca ruscifolia blooms on January 14

Rosemary – Despite suffering two back-to-back winters with brutal freezes, and looking pretty sad all summer, this very mature and large upright rosemary (maybe ‘Tuscan Blue’?) seems to be okay now (although you can see some ‘frostbite’ on the needle tips). Wish I could say the same for my giant hedge of prostrate rosemary, now mostly dead and gone. The Anna’s Hummingbirds that overwinter here often stop by for a sip, so I hope to keep this big plant going a while longer. Plus, fresh rosemary is about my favorite smell in the world.

Rosemary flowers in January

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)?? Not sure of my ID on this one, but as you can see the aphids love it. It has a fairly scraggly habit but screens our bedroom window from the neighbors while letting light in so I have let it stay. Might need to figure out what to do about the critters, since this seems pretty early for them to be at work. Flowers are small but fragrant. Yes, there was just the one when I looked, but I hope more will be along soon!

Winter honeysuckle flower and aphid damage

Indoors, a vase of small white Jewel orchid blossoms my mom gave me, from a plant that has been in my childhood bedroom for at least two decades, maybe more. An impressively long-lived specimen and most un-fussy for an orchid, I believe!

Little white orchid flowers in clear vase

And now, on to things that are not technically blooms but still provide interest and excitement for my eye at this time of year.

Heather (the blooms are really dead flowers from last summer, I just realized, but they look like flowers!) How does that rhyme go? Heath like leaf and heather like a feather? I can never keep these two straight, and not all of the ones I inherited here have survived poor conditions but I am coming to appreciate the ones that have as pretty, hardy evergreens.

Spent heather blooms in winter

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) These red berries persist for months on end and the new foliage comes in with a reddish purple tinge that is just so lovely. Another plant I used to consider humdrum but now truly enjoy.

Nandina domestica berries in January

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) – The contorted filbert’s catkins are in full view at the moment, which does make the tree look a little busy with all the curly branches as well.

Contorted filbert (Harry Lauder's Walking Stick) catkins

Yellow twig dogwood, almost-blooming viburnum and more Sarcococca – I cut a few twigs of this dogwood for a friend today, and only then noticed that some of the yellow twigs not at eye level have red tinges. So, I am wondering if this could be a very out-of-control Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’, which has both yellow and red coloring in winter. Hm, must investigate what that one’s leaves look like in summer, since most searches just turn up the striking but bare winter branches. Another candidate for a drastic pruning job, since the twig color is reportedly most intense in new growth.

Viburnum, sarcococca and yellow-twig dogwood

I’ve let too much time pass without participating in the monthly festival of flowering fun that is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, hosted as always by the lovely and talented Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Picking January to jump back in seems a little absurd, but so be it. I’m grateful for these spots of brightness that will carry the garden forward until spring has sprung!


28 Responses to “GBBD January 15, 2010”

  1. Layanee Says:

    Must plant a ‘Jelena’. Yours is just gorgeous.

  2. What a visual feast you’ve created. I love how many people are getting to know more about witch hazels through posts and photos such as yours.

  3. Gail Says:

    Really wonderful post! Love Harry and the Sweet Box has me curious! Happy day! gail

  4. Nell Jean Says:

    There are always blossoms somewhere. They’re harder to find here, right now following some brutal freezes. Birds took care of my nandina berries.

  5. Michelle Says:

    Twenty-Ten seems to roll most easily from my lips. Love Harry and the Witch (hazel)! Great post, it makes me want to take a closer look at what’s going on in my garden at the moment.

  6. Megan Says:

    You have tons of good winter interest happening. I never get tired of that witch hazel either, although it is always with a sense of bewilderment that yours performs correctly and mine has season confusion. There are so many viburnums to love, I bet you could keep a year long bloom going with the right combination of those guys. Happy 2010, however you say it.

  7. OMG I WANT the Witchhazel. WANT ONE. In fact, maybe I’ll go GET ONE today 🙂 Beautiful.

  8. Brad B Says:

    Looks like you have quite a bit of color indeed. No need to be jealous of the Bay Area. Especially since it sounds like you had a really hard frost not too long ago. You’ve got some interesting plants. I’ve never actually seen the witch hazel plant, crazy booms, and I’m jealous of the honeysuckle. I have a native California one that has yet to bloom.
    And I vote for twenty ten, but from the inertia of two thousand nine, I think it will continue along those lines.

  9. Kate Says:

    First time visitor — I’m with you. I just can’t get enough of witch hazel. It has such a cool, crazy look to it. Pretty stuff!

  10. I just noticed the fragrant scent of my sarcococca this week. I love those plants! Thanks for the garden tour.

  11. Impressive collection Karen! And I’ll go ahead and jump on the witch hazel loving band wagon. You’ve got a beauty there! I don’t think I’m going to be able to find a single bloom in my garden today. I really need to do something about that!

  12. Darla Says:

    Wish I could grow Witch Hazel here….and I just love the Walking Stick.

  13. easygardener Says:

    I do like the Witch Hazel. I have a Lonicera fragrantissima too – they have lovely scented flowers. Sarcococca is a must have – one of the few winter fragrances that you can smell from a distance.

  14. jean Says:

    Your garden really IS designed for winter. How wonderful to have so much to look at. I am enjoying your sarcococca blooms very much. Thanks Karen!

  15. Les Says:

    The surest way to ID your honeysuckle is to smell it. If it smells like a bowl of Fruit Loops, it is winter honeysuckle. You have wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing.

  16. gardeningasylum Says:

    So nice to find your pictures on a grey day in Connecticut. Here I wait until March for the witch hazel. I love the variety of colorful things in your winter garden!

  17. Deirdre Says:

    The leaves on my ‘Midwinter Fire’ look pretty much like the leaves on my yellow twigged dogwood.

  18. Bonnie Story Says:

    This blog post is nothing less than spectacular!!! What great pictures – the Nandina berries are just stunning to me in particular. Wow, great job of gardening for winter interest!! I think the other seasons take good care of themselves, but the garden in winter is the true test to me. Very inspiring!!!! Brava!! – Bonnie

  19. Bonnie Story Says:

    Hiya!! Thanks so much for stoppin’ by my bloggy blog! I have a few other notes – Peony are also on the deer “don’t eat” list – toxic to them – but oh, so lovely for us! I have 3 roots started that made nice foliage (from Costco last spring) and I’m really excited to get them growing. I think it can take a year or 2 for big fat blooms. Peonies are big fave of my Mom’s and it will be fun to present her with some!

    Also about deer – yes, they are excellent swimmers and are known to migrate by water with great success. They can swim a long way and readily will seeking new mates, less development pressure, etc. Boy do I sorely miss my deer-free Zone 9 gardening… oh well. I like it better on my five zone 7 acres!

    One more tidbit – most of the “kids” are calling this year “oh-ten”, I kinda like that. Jazzy. “Oh-eleven” does not have nearly that same snap, so I’m enjoying it now. Happy oh-ten Karen!!! Bonnie

  20. Paula Says:

    You have a lot of great things going on there!
    I keep saying oh ten. That DOESN’T work!

  21. Jane Says:

    What an enviable spread of blooms and “others”, especially this time of year. The witch hazel is lovely. I share your renewed delight in the nandina – I think it is undervalued for being so easy to grow, but looks great this time of year.
    Seeing your post makes me vow (along with Loree) to have *something* blooming next January: the camelias are over and the sarcocococca confusa hasn’t quite begun, so I need more!

  22. Susie Says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Wow, that witchhazel is beautiful. I kinda have a thing for orange right now….

  23. Lovely assortment of blooms… what a beautiful bouquet I imagined picking from all of these beautiful photos. How lucky to inherit so many plants and shrubs. I love the orchid bouquet and that it grows in your childhood room! 😉

  24. rebecca Says:

    Lonicera i.d. seems right to me (see Oregon State University’s Landscape Plants website to compare).

    Heath have teeth, heathers have feathers, if that helps…

  25. Melody Says:

    Love the red and yellow twig dogwoods. I have a red and plan on adding more red and some yellow.

  26. Grace Says:

    Hi Karen~~ I think you have just about all of the winter bloomers. How nice. They make this season so much more tolerable. My Sarcoccoca is also blooming. The fragrance is to die for.

  27. fairegarden Says:

    Hi Karen, this was a satisfying bloom day post for winter weary eyes. Jelena is a queen, princess, goddess, all wrapped into one. No wonder you take many photos of it, love the coloring. The box is something I need to add here. We have some horrible rhodos that need replacing and the box sounds like it would work. I think you have a Calluna there, a heather. The heaths, Ericas have a pine needle look to the leaf. I don’t know how that fits the rhyme, however! HA 🙂

  28. My hazel is ‘Diane’, roughly the same color as yours, but it has yet to put on such a splendid show…and my nandina croaked without ever producing a berry. If we ever meet in person, maybe we can rub thumbs and some of your green will come off on me.

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