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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.

melissa

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Despite a fabulous vacation in Rio and visiting the Botanical Gardens, my life has been a series of unlucky BIG mishaps.  A big tree limb fell on my house, and I had to make one of the hardest garden decisions ever to remove an 80+ year old maple tree in my front yard.  It was actually one of the reasons I bought my house….but a trained arborist told me it had to go.  I admit, I cried.

The hole left by my tree limb tragedy

The hole where my maple used to be ;(

Then, due to a slacking city sewage maintenance crew, I had the very unpleasant experience of 3-inches of sewage back up in my house that ruined both of my bathrooms.  Surprisingly, I didn’t cry, except maybe a few tears for the smell.  Thank god for insurance (actually my insurance company has been wonderful–who ever says that.  Shout out to Liberty Mutual.  If you are looking for good insurance, I recommend them).

My bathroom disaster...UGH

Needless to say, I have had a series of bad luck(top with the fence damage from my Amazonian victory over my Pyracanthas and the series of three is complete).

But there is hope. With a little plant shopping therapy, I have officially turned that frown upside down.  Gardens and planting offer hope.  Plus, the natural endorphins from physical labor doesn’t hurt either.

You know when you have 2 weekends of awesome plant shopping– life isn’t that bad.

I bought a fun weeping Red Bud as a feature tree for my font yard to replace the old majestic maple.  Blog partner, Chris, told me that the tree removal was such an opportunity.  An opportunity to transform my front space.   It opens up the front entry way and makes it feel more welcoming.  Now I have a blank canvas and started placing plants to forget the loss. Stay tuned for a progress report.

A successful trip to Camelia Forest with lots of BOGOs and 50% off where I got a Black Jet Bead, a Miss Kim Lilac, Red Dogwood, (AND FINALLY) a Snow Cream Edgeworthia, a Wintersweet and a classic Pearl bush to fill in my back yard and make a woody scene as you look to the back.

A wooded retreat begins with all my new plants...

The PAX sale this morning was a great success too.  I got my frenzied-sale high, when people lined up at the gate with wagons and plant lists prepped for the rush.  I got 3 awesome large Viburnum Chindo for just $12.50 each.  I got 2 groovy Red Twig Dogwoods, Snow Queen Viburnum and a Mockorange for a steal.  Those are going in my front yard in either the new bed area where my sacred maple once stood or  in the front of my yard to shield me from the street.

Plant therapy to the rescue alright.  I have almost forgotten about my trifecta of mishaps….It works.  Buying plants, setting them out…imagining of what it will be and digging…it is the perfect cure to any blues.

You should try it.  Next time life throws a ‘lil disaster.  Try plant therapy.  It worked for me.

Happy Gardening.

melissa


Picking January Flowers--Camellia and Prunus mume

Everyone has flowers in the spring and summer–but winter flowers are special.  They break up the grey landscape, bring the outdoors in, and to me they feel like progress–the passing of the season, the coming of more. 

They also remind me of my progress as a gardener.  On this last Monday in January, there are 6 kinds of plants blooming in my garden.  It didn’t start out that way.  I bought the color where I saw it–flats from the Harris Teeter, the Lowes.  I made hundreds of impulse purchases–better make that thousands–before I started building a garden that would bloom for me year around.  

So what’s blooming today? 

Camellias and Prunus Mume from my favorite local nursery, Camellia Forest.  The Parks family (yes, the same Dr. Parks who taught blog-partner Melissa botany at UNC) are geniuses.  Nationally know camellia breeders, they have introduced countless new camellia hybrids to the world.  Their plants are tough, well-grown and handle transplant really well.  In the horrible drought a couple summers ago, none of my Camellia Forest plants died.  The nursery  also offers a number of Asian plants (Prunus mume for one) which are hard to find.    Check them out at www.camforest.com if you’re ready to move beyond the limited selection at the big box store. 

Wintersweet– May be  my favorite winter plant.  One–because I grew mine from seed, my first big success.  And two because it lays down these wonderful  patches of fragrance on sunny days like today.   I love my Wintersweet so much,  last year I made a video about it and put it on YouTube.  (link TBA)

Aromatherapy for outdoor chores--Wintersweet on 1/25/2010

Rijnveld’s Early Sensation Daffodils have bloomed as early as January 1st for me.  Because of our cold weather over the holidays, this year’s first blooms arrived last week.  Who doesn’t love yellow daffodils?

Bearsfoot Helleborus–also a long ago purchase from Camellia Forest.  I love green flowers and this one blooms for two months or more. 

Pansies and  Violas–Not a lot of landscape impact this month–they’re too small.  Still–it’s nice to cut blooms for the house and they’ll look like a million bucks in a month or two.  But so will a lot of other flowers.  In January–the dead of winter, every little bit of color stands out.  

So what’s you’re favorite source of winter color?  And another important question for Carolina gardeners–what do you see when you look out  of your kitchen window this month?

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

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