The Seasonal Page:




[Crocus Grouping]

The above picture was snapped in 1998 near our front entrance. There is a grouping of crocus, hardy Cyclamen hederifolium and a beautiful fern that didn't die back much this season since we had such a mild winter...Polystichum setiferum 'Divisilobum' (I want you to know I had to look that up ... it's been awhile since I've perused all the Latin names!) This is still blooming as I type, but the crocuses (is it croci?!) are starting to droop around the edges and in a week they'll be turning to a dark purple mush. They have been really cheery for the past couple of weeks. There are crocus planted on each side of our front entry in two shades of purple and white. Under a cherry tree near the driveway there are lavender and white with lavender striped crocus that have hybridized and naturalized. Everything from white to purple and in between is blooming there. I was quite startled by them, since this is the first year so many flowers appeared. They've been growing for probably three seasons in preparation. Near the above planting, but not pictured is also a Helleborus foetidus that is sporting its strange sprays of green flowers. They naturalize rather readily and I actually had to pull some out and pitch them!

[A Host of Crocus]


Some more crocus. This lighter shade (which variety I no longer recall, off hand) is blooming on the other side of the sidewalk from the group at the top of the page. Each of those clumps started off as one corm and they have been multiplying for about 6 years. It's nice to have small winter blooming bulbs by the front entrance... and it seems to give visitors the idea that your WHOLE yard is whipped into shape (Ha!).



Here is a small hardy Cyclamen coum 'Pewter Leaf' that grows near the sidewalk opposite the above crocus. It's very small but charming and I've noticed a couple of tiny new plants nestled in its center that also have the pewter leaf color. Those can be carefully lifted and reset and some of the cylamen near here were planted just that way. The corms almost looked like slug eggs when I moved them and each had one tiny single, fragile leaf attached. They were dibbled in with care and have grown amazingly well. Ants will carry the sticky cyclamen seeds around and plant them in interesting places for you. It just takes a few years for them to be large enough to notice. Finding a volunteer cyclamen is a true joy!


[Cyclamen coum 'Pewter Leaf']



This photo shows a view of where the crocus in the title photo are blooming. They are situated under the flowering dogwood (sans flowers) by the main sidewalk to the left of the pavers. The green in the center is the H.foetidus and to the left you can still see the remains of the blossoms on the Witch Hazel. I love its fragrance every winter! It reminds me of the smell of orange pulp after squeezing. Right over the bench is a Daphne odora which is just starting to open.

You can see early shots of this area on the "Evolution" page. I was hoping for a jungle effect here because we were so exposed when we first bought the house. During the summer, you can just squeeze through this path because the foliage of hosta, daylilies and fuchsia crowd the walkway. I don't really mind's the only place in the yard with that feeling...that's in the shade in the afternoon. The other shaded areas do not have the perennial plantings that this one does. I also tried to fill this bed with plants that provide winter interest since it is so close to the front door. There are sweet violets blooming on the other side of the main walk near the porch that will soon be releasing their fragrance. They always amaze me because you seem to pick up the odor so far from where they are and have to track down the wonderful scent! That brown stuff on the upper right is a Clematis montana rubens and it will look like an ethereal waterfall of soft mauve in about a month or so. It smells a lot like vanilla and tends to release the fragrance more in the early evening when the air starts to get heavy.


[Witch Hazel]


A closer view of Witch Hazel, Hamamelis mollis. I had to crawl between the shrub and the house to take this picture! Those little bare stems on the tree branches belong to a Clematis 'Lady Betty Balfour' which has only bloomed once there. It's growing okay, but would really prefer a southern exposure since it is a late bloomer and needs more light. You know what?...I'm not going to move it now. I think with time it will hoist itself up enough to do its thing before summer's end. At least...I'm willing to give it a few more years to accomplish that since there are so many other more pressing things to do in the garden!


The photo on the right is Jasminum nudiflorum and it is almost finished now. It blooms here in late January to February and although the flowers are rather sparse, they are such a surprise when everything else looks so bleak. The stems are a wiry green and look similar to our "Scotch Broom" in their color. They don't really hang onto anything, but it can be trained to climb with support. Otherwise it just droops wherever it pleases and will root where the stems touch the ground (but not in an invasive way). Alas.....NO fragrance!

[Winter Jasmine]

This is what the back yard looks like in late winter. You can see, even at this time of year, the changes we've made since the photo on the home page. The large clump of Miscanthus is the main tip-off! The leafless tree in the foreground is a Red Oak and it has a mixed perennial bed underneath that is full of daylilies, lilies,catmint, sedum, bearded iris,hardy geraniums, among others. You will see more of this bed later in the season. What you can't tell from this picture is how out of control the bed to theright of the Miscanthus is. It has gotten worse and worse over the past three seasons due to my working at the nursery and then having a shoulder problem for two springs. I have my fingers crossed that this year I can salvage it. Hopefully there are some perennials still clinging to life that I can save!

[Back Yard in Winter]

[Hellebore Grouping]

The rosy tones of the Helleborus x hybridus lend a different look to this grouping, but I don't mind. They are planted near the deck on the west side of the house under a Japanese Snowbell tree, Styrax japonica.


The large green sprays of flowers on the right belong to a Helleborus lividus subsp. corsicus which has really gotten larger than I'd expected. I have to hack off a few of its flowering branches so that they don't smother the poor smaller plants in front of them. The grass on the left is Millium effusum 'Aureum' (Bowles' Golden Grass) and it has such a wonderful color in spring with those little grape hyacinths. I have to admit that I planted this group after being captivated by a photo in Beth Chatto's Green Tapestry (p. 116, if you have the book). I've always wondered just how many gardeners have planted similar themes after being inspired by a particularly beautiful photo! I also have a few dark blue primroses there that you can see if you look close, but unlike Beth, I have sandy soil and primroses don't really thrive for me. I tried the Arum italicum 'Pictum' that she used, but it just didn't like me. We have to adapt to our own soil and climatic conditions.

[Royal Blue Primroses w/Bowles Golden Grass]

I've dropped this in since I first did this page. The photo was taken during the 3rd week of March and shows the royal blue colored primroses interplanted with the 'Bowles' Golden Grass.'




This is a closer view of the above Hellebore taken last spring. They are happy little self-sowers, and I never thought I'd have too many of them (but in some places, I do now). These are an acquired taste and the longer I grow them the more I appreciate their enduring and subtle qualities. They last for weeks and weeks and the foliage is always attractive. They range in color from a dark burgundy to white flushed pink and all the shades and markings in between. It's always interesting to see what pops up when they freely hybridize themselves.


[Helleborus x hybrid]


[Grouping under Styrax japonica]

This is a long shot of the area where the above Hellebores are growing. Like the inside of the house, the outside isn't totally finished either and the railing on the deck stairs is still waiting for stain! Sure nice to have those stairs though...for a long time we just had a ladder from an old bunk bed leaned against the deck. There's more to this story...but you don't want to know! To the left of the path are rhododendrons, which were planted soon after the landscaping efforts began and when they were my passion. Beyond them are some Mediterranean plants which tolerate the heat. An interesting mix, but it's fine. Karen wants you to know that the pavers were installed by child labor (she had help from her sister, Diane)!

Pulsatilla vulgaris (or whatever the current Latin nomenclature is!) I'm cheating a little putting this here, since at this time the foliage is just emerging, but it is one of the early perennials that ushers in spring and comes between late winter and full-fledged spring. By the time I post the next seasonal page, it will be finished blooming and have charming fuzzy seed heads which, in my opinion, look more charming than the flowers themselves and last longer. This has a southern exposure in fast draining soil and volunteers for me here. It is situated near the path in the above bed where it empties out into the back yard. How do you like that heavy duty bark? It was cheap, but every once in awhile it looked more like kindling than beauty bark! It's been redone since this photo was taken.

[Pulsatilla vulgaris]

[Flowering Cherries]

As of March 20th, 1998 (the first day of spring) these are starting to open! This is looking out our driveway. The cherry with the crocuses under it is on the left but not in the picture. The flowering cherries shown here are Prunus yedoensis 'Akebono.' I first saw a large specimen of this tree in a yard in nearby Tracyton before we moved into our house. I HAD to have one, but didn't know what it was. After doing some research in the Sunset Western Garden Book, I hit on this and it was the right one. A whole row might have been a bit much, but it's breathtaking while it lasts. When the petals fall it looks like pink snow all over the driveway (and then brown!). These trees bloom with the tulips and are on the cusp between late winter and full blown spring.

Visit later for Spring-Early Summer!