Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Signs of Spring January 25, 2009

Filed under: flora,winter — greenwalks @ 3:38 pm
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Signs of spring abound here in Seattle, despite continued colder-than-usual (I think) weather and even some more snow (!?!) here today. It’s dipping into the 20s every night at our house, but you just can’t keep certain plants from enjoying themselves in winter.

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Sarcococca blossoms are perfuming the backyard, so it’s a good thing when I can get myself out into the cold to enjoy them for more than the second it takes to pass by on the way to the compost bin. David Perry had a nice post on his blog about actually stopping to lie down his yard and inhale this particular scent, in case you didn’t see it last week.

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A few of the early-side bulbs are poking their foliage up. I believe these are crocus, no idea what color they’ll be. The haphazard gardener in me just puts stuff in the ground and forgets what it was. Hm, maybe I have more in common with my squirrel foes than I wish to admit…

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This viburnum is adding to the perfume party in the backyard. I believe it is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ but could be wrong there. It has a kind of ugly habit, at least as it has been pruned, and is naked now but for the saucy pink blossoms, but the sweet scent makes it worth keeping around.

Is anyone else seeing signs of renewal in their gardens at the moment, or is it still a ways away?

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Black berries December 5, 2008

Filed under: shrubs — greenwalks @ 2:06 pm
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Sarcococca is one of the hardest-working shrubs suitable for shade that you could hope for. It’s evergreen, puts out cute little red berries in late fall that gradually turn a shiny black, and then in winter sends out stalks of tiny white flowers that perfume their surroundings with a delicate vanilla-y scent.

We had some in a remote spot of our previous garden and I never gave them a second thought. In fact, I admit I found them prosaic and dull, and usually failed to even notice their valiant attempts to provide seasonal interest. In our current space, we inherited a few sizable ones that are poorly sited (i.e. too much sun) and not all that happy – their leaves tend to yellow in the summer and it takes them all year to recover. One of these years, I’m going to get around to moving them to one of our few shady spots, but it didn’t happen this fall. Poor things, I hope they can take it for another year where they are!

Sarcococca berries changing to black

On a linguistically related but otherwise random note, on a whim I bought some freeze-dried blackberries at the food co-op the other day and my daughter, the finicky eater who has now stopped liking fruits in addition to veggies and pretty much everything else except boxed mac & cheese (argh!), LOVES them and delights in popping them in her mouth for a super satisfying sour crunch. I’m not sure what the carbon footprint indications of freeze drying are (maybe someone can enlighten me?), but I have to say that this is a really great way to get my kid to eat fruit in the winter without any preservatives or energy cost from the freezer. I just picked up some freeze-dried strawberries and mangosteen from Trader Joe’s and those have been a hit too. Gotta get our Vitamin C somehow!