Sunday, February 22, 2009 – Puttering in Helen’s Haven

Sunday is my day in the garden.  I look forward to it all week with anticipation.  It’s cold and rainy today, but I don’t care.  At least I can see the earth.  It’s not covered with snow like so many gardens of my gardening buddies across the nation.  Wearing a down jacket and my Elmer Fudd hat, I was ready to brace the cold, wet morning.

Today, in particular, I needed to be in the garden.  I am so ready for spring, I believe if I am able to connect with the earth, it would make the time pass more pleasantly.    We are so fortunate here to be able to garden year round.  We have the weather and plant palate to do so.  Plus, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be in the garden.  My winter garden is alive with new growth, flowers, foliage, texture.

After my Sunday mornings in the garden, I post my muses called “Puttering in Helen’s Haven,” which is what I’m doing now.   Once, I was asked by a reader, “What’s the point of this post?”  Actually, I was asked this same question twice by the same reader.  Up to now, I didn’t answered her, because I felt if you had to ask, then they don’t get it.

In the event others also wondered why I post my muses in the Sunday garden, here is an attempt to explain myself.

This post is for me.  It is a way for me to journal my gardening doings.  It allows me to document my fun in the garden on this particular day. It has become, in effect, a weekly maintenance guide, of sorts.   I like to think this complements  “This Month in the Garden” monthly maintenance guide I post.  If others learn from what’s going on in our zone 7b gardens, or if it I can inspire just one person to see what is available, then all the better.

This winter, I can point to several readers who did,  indeed, begin to garden in the winter.  Often times, my readers have moved here from other zones not fulling realizing our gardens can be just as full of life in the winter as any other season – but without the humidity and bugs.

So, here we go.  I’m happy to share with you my fun in the garden this beautiful, cold, wet Sunday morning:

  • stone-path-2-22-09Inspected the progress Phil Hathcock of Natural Stone Sculpture did on the new path through Helen’s Haven Mixed border.  I’m liking it.
  • Mentally wondered what plants to add when the new path is complete.  Hopefully, the steps will be done next week, and I can finish the design.  I plan to add more “mix” to my Mixed Border.  The Mixed Border, formally know as the Perennial Border, philbrookraleighyoest-8still has too many herbaceous plants to carry me through the winter and early spring.  No doubt, it is full and lush from  June through frost, but I want to fully take advantage of the many species to add interest from November through June.
  • Some of the plants I already have available to add to the Mixed Border include:  Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Magic’, Euonymous ‘Golden’, Weeping Hemlock, Holly Osmanthus, Asarum arifolium ‘Brunswick Stew’, Distylium myricoides, Cotoneaster ‘Scarlet Leader’, and various junipers.
  • Tossed in some  Poppy and Larkspur seeds.
  • Removed some more box from the Mixed Border.  The top of the gardens are surrounded with a formal box outline.  I love this look of formality and exuberance combined.  Kinda like jeans and heels…my kind of dressing – if I have to dress up causally, I still don’t like to be separated from my jeans.  I hope my “look” still says “Gardener” if not, oh well.  The few box at the bottom of the bed will be traded up…just not sure with what yet.
  • Upright the trellis that keeps falling over in the wind.
  • Fed my bird buddies.
  • Moved the stepping stones that use to be the path in the Mixed Border to the Red Bed.  Traded up these larger stones for smaller ones that lead into this bed.
  • Stopped and admired the birds.   There were robins everywhere – drinking in a puddle formed in my neighbors driveway, searching for earthworms in the front garden grass, sitting on the utility wire watching me move stone.   Robins say spring to me – even though we have them year round.  It’s in the spring, they even seem happier.
  • Took the time to admire the Daffodils, Daphne, Flowering Apricot, 2008-february-flower-find-0221Scarlet Curls, Yellow White Pine, Coral Bark Maple, crocus in the lawn and elsewhere, Hellebores, and more.
  • Speaking of Scarlet Curls, I stopped to admire the “curtain” my Scarlet Curls is creating on the south side path. I got the idea of training my contorted, weeping willow from a wonderful Prunus Mume at the Winter Garden at the JCRA.  We let it grow into the path, so that you have to move it out of the way like you are opening a curtain to pass through.   Recently, the Chapel Hill Garden club was visiting the Winter Garden at the JCRA.  They  commented favorable on this effect.  It is stunning.  Now I have the same effect in my garden, but with a willow.
  • Found Pauline (Iris Reticulata).  I planted several, but couldn’t remember where I planted them…now I know.
  • Moved some empty terracotta pots to the storage shed.  I left them in the office bed, but the orange got to me.  They just look to start in the winter landscape.

All in all, it was a great morning in the garden.



  1. metricula said

    What a wonderful blog! I can’t wait until I have a yard of my own and can expand out of my container garden.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Metricula. I hope you stop by again. At least you are taking advantage of what is available to you. You will probably find that even with your own garden, you will probably always garden in containers. It’s a rewarding as well.

  3. tina said

    Posting weekly what you do in the garden would also help others in your area to know what they may want to do as well. I enjoy sharing it with you.

  4. kk said

    Im wondering what it would take to seperate you from your jeans….I also found the Iris reticulata blooming in my garden this weekend, a sweet suprise. KK

  5. The blog is a great way to journal. Your stone path is really great. It is starting to look like spring around our area, isn’t it? Everywhere we go, there are little hints that within a few weeks, it will be a different world again. There are buds forming on so many trees.

    I have a weeping willow that corners the butterfly and front gardens. It is like walking through a curtain. I even trim out a bit of a passageway in mine as it gets thicker with age. I love it.

    My daphne continues to amaze me. It’s been going now since December. It makes me wonder (since they like dry shade) if anyone has tried daphne in pots on a covered porch? hmm…


  6. Cameron, your Daphne opened up way before mine. I’ve had buds all winter, but they just opened. I have mine in the front west facing side.

  7. kk, very funny…

  8. Yes Tina and Cameron, this is a great way to journal and others can see what is going on in the garden.

  9. joey said

    Love the garden, love the bench, love the tour … I dream of puttering in my garden, still sound asleep under a blanket of snow.

  10. Thanks Joey, stay posted. The path should be finished this week. Already we have some plantings in. It looks fabulous.

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