Sunday November 16, 2008 Puttering in Helen’s Haven

After three days of rain, continusouly drizzling our gardens and recharging the ground water with 2.5 inches of water, a cold front came through giving a crisp 50 degrees F, sunny, and just a delightful morning in the garden.

There wasn’t a lot to do today in Helen’s Haven.  I planted 50 dwarf Iris reticulata ‘Pauline.’  My first experience with them was in the Winter Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum a few years ago.  Finally, last winter when Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections, and I were leading a tour group of the Winter Garden, I asked where to get them.  Immediately he said Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, 7900 Daffodil Lane, Gloucester, VA 23061 1-877-661-2852  Then he was quick to add they are not available until the fall.   I went home and added this to my calendar so I wouldn’t forget to order them.2008-jcra-winter-tour-033

I bought 100 bulbs.  I first gave about 10 to kk.  It isn’t often I can share with him; he seems to be the giver in our friendship.  I gave 10 each to 3 clients, 3 to my kid’s school (the first grade teachers and the kids grow a garden.)  The remainder will go with me to talks I have schedule on the topic of adding winter interest in gardens.  I thought they would make a nice raffle gift.

For my garden, Helen’s Haven,  I planted 50.  It seems like an absence amount now that I look at this photo.  But I really love them.  They will grace the winter landscape in the Red Bed, Mailbox bed, Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Mixed Border, Back Porch Too garden, and the Front Path Garden.  All were planted in places where they could be admired, up close and personal.


As with layering of plants in a garden, I like to add layers of night lights in Helen’s Haven.  I have low voltage night lighting throughout the gardens, as well as, grapevine balls in two trees out front that I run year round.  When the days grow shorter, I like to add another layer.  I don’t consider white mini lights Christmas lights, I think of them as Winter lights.  I love to drive around in December and see all the white lights illuminating the landscape.  Come New Years’ though, I’m always disappointed when they are unplugged.

Philips brand mini lights has a Heavy Duty Clear mini lights product that come in 200 bulbs strands allowing to connect up to 8 heavy duty sets (1,600 bulbs) end to end.  WOW, this is great.  Using industrial grade 20 gauge wire, this length of lights and increased number of sets that can be connected together, makes outdoor decorating a snap.  And speaking of snap, the lights are packaged such that the lights are gathered in 4, 25 light groups with a rubber band that snaps when it’s pulled.  In the past, I’ve seen packaging what was wasteful or with rubber bands that seem to defy cutting with clippers or were hard to remove.  These lights, consuming only 48 Watts of power compared to other super bright lights sets consuming 81.6 Watts of power, save up to a 40%  energy.

I added 2 sets to the Simlax in the Office Border and another set on the arbor.  I didn’t take advantage of the number of connects allowed, but all the same, these lights made short work of the task at hand.


A couple of hours were spend with Heather and Lara Rose to maintain the JCRA Butterfly Garden.  Don’t know what happen to Steph.  We weeded and cut back some, but left most for the birds and winter interest.  It was a good to be working at the Arb.



  1. patientgardener said

    I have 30 Iris reticulata to plant out as well. I had hoped to do it this weekend but it has been raining heavily so it will have to wait until next weekend

  2. tina said

    Helen’s Haven must be quite a sight to see with all the lights. I too love lighting and might have to try the winter lights.

  3. I’ going to try to photo graph the lights this evening. My friend, Hoyt Bangs, tells me the best time to photograph night lights is a half hour before dusk. We shall see. I’ll post if anything looks good.

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