Posts Tagged Winter Gardening

Seasonal Wisdom’s Blog Post Helen’s Haven Winter Faves

Part IV: Favorite Winter Plants (North Carolina)

Helen Yoest in the back center with others from the Raleigh Garden Club after a monthly maintenance in the Winter Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum

An excerpt from Seasonal Wisdom’s posting…

There may be a snow storm or two, but Raleigh, N.C. (Zone 7B) enjoys more moderate winters than the first three locations featured in this Favorite Winter Plants series. In fact, you can pretty much garden all winter long, reports garden writer and coach Helen Yoest. And she should know. Helen not only owns Gardening With Confidence™, she also serves on the board of advisors for JC Raulston Arboretum.  For the full story, please visit Seasonal Wisdom.

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook  friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum

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Don’t be a bore – hellebore!

Nice arrangement from Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville

Nice arrangement from Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville, VA

I met my first hellebore back in 1988. Judy, my next door neighbor at time, introduced us.  I remember the day well, plant-wise,  anyway.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember where we went.  My first hellebore made her home in my Oakwood garden where I often wonder if she’s still there.

I was smitten by the promise of a flower blooming in the winter.  That was all the encouragement I needed –  even if I did have to lay on the ground to see it. This was also the beginning of my winter gardening journey. If it flowers in the winter and I can grow it, I do.

Over the years, as I built my winter garden display, it’s the hellebores that I return to time and time again.  They were my first love, and somehow first loves are always the best.

Many of my hellebores are baby crosses that my clients wanted cleared out or passed to me by a friend.  They cross easily.  They baby easily.

Haphazard pot-up of hellebores - what they will be, will be a surprise

Haphazard pot-up of hellebores - what they will be, will be a surprise

Unless you are particular about getting a variety you desire, getting babies from a gardening friend is a good way to go.  I branched out this year and bought my first double.  Then another.  I promised I would never do that, but then I remembered, never say never.

'Southern Belles'

'Southern Belles'

My first double was ‘Southern Bells’, one that I picked up at this year’s Pine Knot Farms open hellebore days I shared the wealth and purchased my next double hellebore at Gethsemane Gardens in Greensboro, NC

Double purchased from Gaethsemane in Greensboro, NC

Double purchased from Gethsemane in Greensboro, NC

I thought I had a nice collection until I visited the hellebore garden of my friend Bobby.  Here is some from his collection:

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Street-scape makes a nice home for hellebores

Street-scape makes a nice home for hellebores

Here’s some more from Helen’s Haven:

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So jazz up your winter garden.  Don’t be a bore – hellebore!

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Sunday, February 24, 2008 Winter Gardening

Only twice this week did Michael Aster (6) need to break the ice in the birdbath. Lily Ana (7) reported 0.25 inches of rain the other day and after re-filling the birdfeeder, Lara Rose (11) proclaimed me crazy for gardening in this cold weather. Perhaps, but I sure am having fun.

The flowering apricot (Prunus Mume ‘Dawn’) looks incredible. Hard to believe this is only its second blooming season. Having planted it 18 months ago and worrying about her during the summer drought, I am happy to report she is doing very well. With only moderate care during this past summers’ drought, adding about 5 gallons of supplemental water once a month, the flowers tell me now, all is well.

The Arum (Arum italicum ‘Pictum’) came up nicely from their late fall planting. Their arrowhead-shaped green and white leaves make the dullness of the winter landscape happy. They will go dormant in the summer, but it is in the winter I need for the spot under my Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’) to have color – they seem happy to oblige.

We laid 10 cu. yds. of composted leaf mulch. It looks good, but could use 3 more. Nothing like newly laid mulch to make the garden look tidy. The water retention qualities, retarding weed growth, providing nutrients to the soil, as well as, keeping the roots cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter are the benefits to laying mulch – looking nice is just an added bonus.

I planted recently purchased Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis ‘Pine Knot Mix’) I picked up from Dick and Judith Knott of Pine Knot Farms. They were here to speak at the JCRA for the Winter Walk Tour. If that wasn’t enough, I added more to my collection after visiting Tony’s open house at Plant Delights Nursery (Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC Silvermoon’, H. x hybridus ‘Winter Dream Pure-White’). These made wonderful additions to my Woodland Garden Too, Office, and Back Porch garden beds.

My Hellebores never receive supplemental watering. I noticed last year after weeks of elevated temperatures and drought, they went a little flat. However, a little rain perked them right up. They are blooming now and probably don’t even realize they are not just a gem in the winter garden, but also in a waterwise garden.

I find it thrilling to garden in the winter. We are so fortunate to have the weather and plant selections to garden year ‘round. Winter gardening is also interesting in that we don’t need as much to make our hearts sing. A tiny flowering snowdrop (Galanthus byzantinus) will dazzle a winter garden, but this same bulb blooming in the height of a summer bounty just wouldn’t have the same effect.

I noticed many tiny snowdrops nodding their sweet little heads in approval during the coldest of days. Perhaps, they too, must be a little crazy, but they sure look like they are having fun.

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Friday, February 1, 2008 Winter Gardening

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For me, the beginning of each month also means the beginning of new promise in the garden. Each month brings something unique and special for me to look forward to. With January behind us, and the days getting longer, I see spring just ahead. The promise of more rain, more flowers, and more special moments shared in the garden with friends and family awaits.

On the first day of each month, I like to photograph each of my gardens. This allows me to see how the gardens are doing – filling in, seasonal interest, and comparisons from year to year. While I am at it, I do a monthly flower find photographing all the flowers I find in bloom. On this day, in the middle of winter, I am delighted to write I found: Edgeworthia (Edgeworthia chrysantha), Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis), Daffodils (Narcissus ‘February Gold’ ), Vinca (Vinca minor), snowdrops (Galanthus byzantinus ), Camellia (Camellia spp.), Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Variegata’), Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ), Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium ), Crocus (Crocus tomasinianus ), and flowering Apricot (Prunus mume ‘Dawn’.) Taking a whiff of each of the fragrant ones is also part of the fun.

As I walked out the front door to begin my photographic journey, I smelled the Daphne before I even remembered it was there. A Daphne may just up-and-die for not apparent reason, but it can’t be blamed on the drought. Tough as nails in this past summer’s extreme heat and lack of rain, the Daphne was a winner in more ways than one – nice evergreen foliage, drought tolerant, and a wonderful fragrance in the winter when it welcomed most.

Aster is with me as we walk the garden. He sees a bluebird on the telephone wire coming down for a drink of water and then retuning to his wire perch. We take a moment to watch. This reminds us to check the bluebird houses to see if we have clean boxes for them to nest. Carefully, we knock on the side of the house to signal to the bird we are coming in and then when we got no response we peeked inside. Everything looks good and we are ready whenever they are.

We also admired the Crocus blooming in the lawn. We shared the memory of planting them on that particularly pretty day last fall. Even though we couldn’t water the lawn due to the Stage 1.5 watering restrictions, we decided to aerate, plant seed and hope for the best. We also added early blooming Crocuses in the holes made from the core aerator. Lily, Aster, Lara Rose and I planted 250 Crocuses, one per hole, every so often. Then we waited for the promise of winter flowers.

Today, Aster and I agreed we would add some early blooming tiny Daffodils (Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’) next fall to keep company with the Crocus and hoped the Crocus would indeed naturalize as the packaging promised.

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