Friday, January 6, 2012

Brightening Winter Days . . .

Temperatures have barely dipped below freezing here, but we've had wind-and-rainstorms to show us that winter still has teeth. And grey. Much grey.

But many years ago, I filled my garden with a secret winter weapon -- winter-flowering fragrant plants. These only work in fairly moderate climates, of course. Don't try this at home, kiddies, if you're in the central Prairies, northern Quebec. . . pretty much anyplace in the great cold middle of our continent, as well as its more northerly borders. I'm lucky enough to live in what Canadians tend to sneer at, somewhat, as LotusLand -- and on my little island, winter's chills tend to be softened most of the time by the maritime influence.

Which allows my spirit-lifting Viburnum bodnantense, 'Dawn' to bloom anytime from November through March -- a wonderfully scented, delicately coloured antidote to grey, damp cold. I've posted about it before, perhaps every single blogging year it's bloomed -- I won't apologize. It deserves attention every single year. Trumpets, maybe. It's that sublime. . .

Also worthy of trumpets, truly, are the green buds I spotted swelling up on the Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Red Currant). . .
the magical whorls of Mahonia japonica, ready to deliver some buttery-yellow fragrance sometimes later this month . . .
Various hellebores all about the garden, many of them descendants from other gardens I love (Phil's, Alison's, my mom & dad's). In fact, you could visit one of those gardens and check out the most wonderfully fragrant winter-flowering witch-hazel you're ever likely to meet -- and meet a gardening friend of mine, Jane, who writes beautifully, if far too sporadically.
And winter's colours and scents aren't all borrowed from the more forward-looking seasons, but they also hold memories of last year's sunshine -- these purple berries on the Callicarpa shrub being a glorious example. . .
And even the much more commonplace Skimmia brightens the landscape. . .
We're away from the garden this weekend, in Vancouver celebrating a daughter's birthday, but I think we'll take a walk and see what's blooming, berrying, and wafting fragrance in the parks. And Paul, who got over here before me, had white tulips waiting in a vase, so there's a winter garden of sorts inside. In what form is Nature and her creations charming you this winter day? Or is she sending you back under the covers? I'm curious to know how different our winter experiences are, all over our widely spread community.  Do leave a comment and let me know . . .

8 comments:

  1. I have not one of those amazing plants/shrubs in the garden and yet I have admired them for years.

    I'll have to enjoy them from afar...
    my BFF's Mahonia japonica is huge and the amber flowers are profuse and their fragrance is intoxicating.

    Have fun in the big city!

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  2. My garden is just horrible at the moment. But it's so cold I don't feel like dealing. Good foresight on your part. Maybe I need to start using a gardener again...

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  3. I really wish that would work here... Those are just lovely plants. Of course, it's been so bizarrely warm this winter that all of my plants are hovering on confused.

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  4. I'm loving these shots of hardy winter blooms against the wet and grey. It's like...tenacity against the odds.

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  5. I love the shots of your winter garden. In my previous location winters were far too cold, although truthfully my own garden was protected by the Hudson River and my winters were milder than those a mere 5 miles east and further from the Hudson. I was able to grow plants that were technically hardy a full zone south of me in protected spots, but even so, December through February were dreary and bare months. This year was so warm however that my reblooming irises were throwing up a third set of buds in December and were about to open when we moved. Our caretaker had lovely fresh irises on her Christmas table with our blessings.

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  6. Our winter has been worryingly warm. Usually, the hawks plague our pigeons, but this year they have left the birds alone...though we can count the hawks roosting and surveying the fields from their perches. They are magnificent birds. Sadly, nothing will flower until late February.

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  7. Our winter has been mild so far, too, but we are usually in a deep freeze by now. No blooming winter flowers; no blooming, at all, until April. I love the idea of winter flowers! What a treat they must be.

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  8. Hostess: Isn't it wonderful how different gardens can be? I've always admired, even coveted, the witchhazel up the road, but I know I don't have a good spot for it in my garden. So I'll just admire it in my neighbour's garden as you do your BFF's mahonia.
    Lisa: I'm lucky I put things in place back when I had some time and that the structure seems to be holding. But I'm really noticing some serious scruffiness that needs to be tackled. A gardener is a luxurious treat!
    Kristin: I can imagine! And if they're not careful, those plants will confuse themselves right into some serious frostbite, right?
    Pseu: Exactly! And it's an inspiring example. If the plants can do it . . .
    Mardel: That's amazing -- and what a treat for your caretaker! You're going to have such fun (and work, I know!) learning a new ecosystem and gardening in it.
    Terri: I keep hearing this about winter East of us. Nervous-making. . . .
    Anne: These are wonderful blooms -- I suspect their strong fragrance is linked to the need to attract what very few pollinators are around during these cold days. Whatever, it's welcome and intoxicating!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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