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I’ve been out of the garden way too long and it shows. I was getting crabby. So right after our (way too busy) Christmas, I took a walk around the paths and found that the new year had already arrived in our Wake County woods.


There’s always a rogue Early Sensation Daffodil that blooms before the others. It promises hundreds more ahead.


This little pink Camellia is bridging the gap between the fall bloomers and the japonicas of spring. The tag is long lost. I’ll have to ask my friends at Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill for an ID.


Also from Cam Forest, Prunus Mume in bud.


Many years ago, I started the Wintersweet with seed ordered from England (and I’m still bragging–sorry). This is a favorite fragrant plant. It seeds a lot, if you want one.


Our Grandmothers grew another fragrant beauty with a fitting name, Sweet Breath of Spring.


And Grandmas loved Quince. This is Texas Scarlett in bud.


Bear’s foot Hellebore is one of my favorite green blooms. These will hang around for MONTHS–no fooling–which is one of the coolest things about winter flowers–they last.

So what’s blooming in your garden. Get out there, find out and let us know.


FINALLY…I see some flowers.  white H

I must admit, I have been totally uninspired to garden or to blog about gardening, despite some gloriously beautiful weather this winter season.  I finally figured out why.  There were no flowers in my garden.

Co-blog partner Christine Ramsey, always said that it is much easier to have a beautiful garden in the spring, but to have a beautiful garden in the winter…now that is a feat.

She is totally right.

Here are 5 lessons I have learned about inspiration and winter gardening.

  1. Don’t put you best winter flowers out of sight.  That’s right. These Hellebores have been blooming since the first of January, but they are on the side of my house I never go.  You can’t see them from a window inside, but they are beautiful.  Note to self and others…move these in a place you can see every day.purple H
  2. Early daffodils can do wonders to your garden mood.  As soon as these February Golds bloomed, I was instantly inspired to get back in the garden.  Even if it was to only weed…it made me want to be out there.FG D
  3. Blooming winter shrubs with fresh fragrance can transport you to memories of spring.  This Wintersweet in the front of my house, is not only beautiful, but when I go to the mail box I smell the sweet aroma and instantly get excited of the blooming season to come.wintersweet
  4. Plant more evergreens. That’s right…often evergreens don’t have showy blossoms, but they will make all the difference when your deciduous plants have died back in your garden.  I definitely need to plant more evergreens to provide needed structure to my garden, but also to keep it from looking so barren.
  5. Don’t skip the annuals.  I made a conscience choice this season to skip the annuals.  I was way too busy and just decided I didn’t have it in me to plant them.  Bad mistake.  Because I don’t have some of those lovely pansies by my mailbox or in some of my beds, I miss the winter flowering treat they provide.

Take it from me.  It is important to plan for a winter garden to keep your inspiration mojo pumped. Review these 5 lessons and take pictures now of your garden, so you can prepare your game plan for the spring planting seasons.

Happy Gardening.


My first daffodil of 2011 bloomed last Wednesday.  Short and stocky but so very welcome, this variety is Rijnveld’s Early Sensation. 

It is always first of the winter flowers and in past years,  has bloomed as early as New Year’s Day.  

Due to our cold December and January, Rijnveld is more than a month late this year–but no matter.  The daffodils have started.  One variety after another will follow.   As far as this gloomy cold winter is concerned–Rijnveld’s Early Sensation is the beginning of the end. 

Also blooming last week–my Wintersweet shrub, Chimonanthus.   Tall and gangly, it’s waxy flowers will perfume the whole yard on a warm winter day. 

 I actually grew this shrub from seed–one of my first big successes.  Maybe it wasn’t such a big achievement after all–the shrub now seeds readily in my garden with no help from me.  I usually have a few nice plants  to give away every year.   

I was at friend Ivy and Megan’s yesterday when they discovered their prunus mumme was in boom.  Very exciting for all us–

There’s something so special about the first booms of spring.  Make sure to get out in your garden this week and see what’s happening.  Then, let us know.

PS–My favorite book about gardening, A Southern Garden, by Elizabeth Lawrence, has a chapter called, “Spring Starts in February”.  Nice to know that it’s still true even in cold, gloomy winters like this one.

Summer flowers linger last week in Imogene's pots--

My first Christmas gift is already delivered.  Last week, I drove  to my hometown in Alamance County and re-planted my friend Imogene’s pots. 

Imogene's pots planted for winter-spring color

Snapdragons, Dianthus and violas will bring months of blooms to her patio garden.  In spring (for her birthday) I’ll pull out these winter annuals and replant for spring, summer and fall.  

Dianthus in bloom. The snapdragons will fill in and bring height and color for early spring--

Imogene has been my special friend  since I was 13. She helped me celebrate my  marriage, my first home, my first garden.     When I was a beginning gardener, she was an important teacher.  Many of my first plants came from her.  

Giving back makes me feel good, and honors our long, long friendship.  The patio garden is something she enjoys everyday. 

Make sure your winter garden is easy to see from the house--

So if you know an older gardener who doesn’t get around as well as they used to, consider a well-placed pot display.  It’s a gift that lasts and last. 

Imogene's patio is a great place for a winter pot garden. The brick and concrete hold the sun's heat--

There are 12 pots of all sizes in Imogene’s patio garden.  Every other year, I change the potting mix.  I use slow-release fertilizer and a combination of 4-5 different plant varieties–about a flat and half or two flats of annuals.    For fun, I change the color scheme every season. 

Tall spiky plants do well in the elevated end pots.  This is a large evergreen Carex–a great find from the Campbell Road Nursery perennial sale.  I bought my hardy annuals there as well.  They have a good selection of healthy plants for NC gardens.  I know they’ll do well for my old, old friend.

If you are anything like me, this warm weather makes me want to get “my garden on.”  So if you are looking for something to do, you can always prep your veggie or flower beds.  I wouldn’t jump the gun to plant summer veggies yet, just in case there is a frost.  The ‘ole farmer’s almanac says this year April 15 is the last risk of frost, so I would wait until then just in case.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to do. This weekend I am going to prep my beds.

1)Going to get some more topsoil–I get the bags for this sort of project.  They are easier for me to pick up without killing my back.

2) Going to use my compost, but will probably need to get some too.  I get the cheapest and my veggies still grow.  I tried that black cow stuff for $5 a bag–didn’t really notice a difference, so decided to stick with the cheapo stuff.  It is just poo anyway.

3)Get some slow release fertilizer too.

4) Get mulch for later…remember mulch is key!

Then I will put the soil and compost in the wheel barrow and add some slow release fertilizer, mix and then dump it all in my beds.  I just layer on top of what I already have left over from last year.  I also always have the mixture ready to fill in when I transplant new plants.

So if you are itching to get outside this week…I say prep work should be on the to do list!

Happy Gardening!


A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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