A Bit of Winter Snow!


[Oakleaf Hydrangea with snow]

During the early part of December of 1998, we had a surprise snowfall. You have to realize that in the Pacific Northwest, we don't get snow every year and it's a big deal when it comes down. This was a very small one and short-lived, but brought much excitement to the kids since we didn't get any last year. It also got me to grab the camera. I realize in looking at these that a little snow does much more to adorn the garden in winter than a bunch...which hides everything! Sorry they are so dark, but it was snowing at the time I took them and the sky was pretty dark. Anyway...I humbly share them and hope you enjoy looking at plants with sprinklings of snow on them! We had more snow than this the day before Christmas Eve day, but I didn't take too many photos of that one...too busy trying to get ready for Christmas! Boy was I behind this year.

[Back Arbor and Miscanthus in Snow]

A little sprinkling of snow really accentuates the bones of the garden. It's a good time to walk around and decide whether or not you need to provide more structure by adding evergreens, structures, or plants that have a winter presence because of their dried foliage or seedheads. The Miscanthus you see above is wonderful at all times of year, but especially appreciated during the winter for its form and the wonderful sounds the foliage makes when the wind whips it around. The little evergreens (that someday won't be so little...maybe up to 15 feet over time) are Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard.' They have a wonderful texture and soft blue color at all times of the year.


You can hardly see the trampoline in this picture, but if we had more snow than this, it would need rescuing! This is the same group of trees that provided "home" for some noisy crows over the summer. The nest is in the tree to the left. The little bed toward the right is the "ash bed" and it's full of color from Spring to Summer. Won't be much longer and it will be stirring with early crocus and tulips, if the deer don't eat off all the buds.



[Snowing in Back Yard]


[Barberries with Snow]


The barberries are wonderful in the winter. These still have a few fall-colored leaves clinging to the branches which add a little more color. The smaller bits of red are the berries which the birds strip off during the winter (I still get a lot of volunteer plants anyway!).



Blue fescue with a little sprinkling of snow. The oak leaves in the background will be left there until later this winter when I start tidying up the bed. This will hopefully be done before the Hellebores in the vicinity start their blooming.



[Blue Fescue with Snow]


[Astilbe Seedhead in Snow]

On my walk back to the front entry, I noticed this little astilbe stem bent over with snow. Kind of glad I never got around to cutting it off!



This is the little clump of Cyclamen coum 'Pewter Leaf' that I love so much. It grows by the sidewalk leading to the front porch. Can you see the bright fuchsia colored buds? In another month, it will have charming little flowers suspended over this beautiful foliage. Maybe this season, I'll transplant the two tiny babies that are near this mother clump.



[Hardy Cyclamen in Snow]


[Snow Nest - Frosty Curls Carex]


This looks just like a bird's nest, doesn't it? The plant hiding here is Carex 'Frosty Curls' ... on the other side of the sidewalk from the cyclamen. The plant behind is a heather (Calluna vulgaris 'H.E. Beale').



I leaned over the rail on the deck to take this of the front yard. We still need to have that big fir tree removed one of these years! See the snowflakes? They are rather heavy because the weather was on the warm side, but still fun for the month of December!



[Snowing in Front Yard]


[Deck Bed with snow]


Here's a view of the deck bed taken from the end of the deck at the back of the house. You probably can't notice as much as I do, but there's a gap where two rhodies were removed in the fall (just to the right of the Styrax trunk on the fence side of the bed). I will rearrange that area later this winter.



Miscanthus is almost as good as rubber! This poor clump was sagging under the weight of the snow, but as soon as it melted, the clump came back up and is still beautiful. If it was weighted down over a long period of time, it might not recover so well.



[Sprawling Miscanthus - Snow]


[Winter Flowering Jasmine Buds - Snow]


Another harbinger of spring...well, late winter. I hadn't been paying attention and was delighted to see these buds on the winter blooming Jasmine/Jasminum nudiflorum. They bloom even before the witch hazel!



[Icy Branches of Styrax - Meltdown]

Our little snowfall was short-lived. As it was melting I took this photo of the Styrax branches by the deck. You can see the arbor and its bed in the background. Sigh...it was wonderful while it lasted!


A winter sky.


[Helleborus niger buds]


I spotted this white from the path near the house and had to get close to see what it was. Wow! This was a tiny transplant two years prior. I have just taken another shot with some of the flowers open and will post it below when I get it back. Last year there were two flowers on this plant. By the way...it's Helleborus niger..."Christmas Rose" and it's growing in the oak bed.



The Miscanthus sinensis is still pretty here, but starting to disintegrate. In the couple of weeks since this was taken, it has been dropping its blades all around the skirts of the stalks on the plant. A sure sign that it's about time to get outdoors for winter cleanup in preparation for early spring! I've always fancied the idea of burning the stubble to save all that pruning, but can never get it to light! (Probably as well...with my luck I'd burn down the arbor as well.) If we lived in a drier climate, I suspect this would not be a problem.



[Arbor in Winter with Grass]


[Winter Grass at Sundown]

I hope this looks as good in the browser as it did to me when I was out in the yard...eerie winter lighting just before sunset.

Here's a change of pace...our messy living and dining area (complete with unfinished sheetrock and table full of soap) being graced by the presence of Jim Henson and Kermit. Robert wanted this "Think Different" poster (Apple) for his new workstation at his job in Seattle (no longer employed there as of Dec. '99). After being framed, it became quite cumbersome and heavy, so we made a trip over and delivered it. Thought I'd capture it on film since we would not be seeing it much in the future.



[Jim Henson and Kermit Poster]


[Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn']

The house is kind of depressing, so let's go back outdoors! But hark! What light next to arbor breaks? It is the West and Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn.' (Sorry to get so corny!) I was startled to see this from my bedroom and how many buds it has this season. These little two-tone pink flowers are loaded with a cinnamony scent.


[Helleborus niger flowers opening]

The Helleborus niger behind the carport is opening its first buds now and aren't they pristine? You can see that there are quite a few more coming up still. I'll probably capture this at least once more on this page when more of the flowers have opened. During the next month, those oak leaves will be raked out and composted.

[Helleborus orientalis buds]


Under the Styrax japonica near the deck are the first Helleborus orientalis plants I purchased a few years back.They are the parents of the seedlings that were planted at the back of the oak bed two seasons ago. Here you see the buds coming up from the crown of the plant. Later, I will cut off the rest of these leaves as the new ones emerge. They still looked nice so I left them on a bit longer.



[Sarcococca ruscifolia]

Before you even notice they are there, you can smell the fragrance of these little creamy flowers on the Sarcococca ruscifolia. When the air temperature raises, their scent will carry to the front porch and deck, even though the bush is on the shady north side. This variety sets black berries. No seedlings have been seen yet...don't know if that will ever happen. It's a very pretty foliage plant as well as having very sweet smelling flowers in late winter. Can be damaged by harsh winters in our Zone 8 climate, however.


[Crocus 'Cream Beauty']

Before I even got down to clearing the old foliage from last season, these eager crocus popped up. Since this photo was taken, the dead plant tops have been trimmed, but there is still weeding to be accomplished in this bed before the full flush of spring comes (the ash bed). The crocus variety shown is an early one called, 'Cream Beauty.'

[Cyclamen coum 'Pewter Leaf']

I love the perky little flowers of Cyclamen coum. This is the 'Pewter Leaf' cultivar purchased from Montrose Nursery in North Carolina before they closed down their mail order operations. The flowers are slightly paler than the straight green leaved variety.

Just when I was getting hyped about spring, we had another snowfall in early February! It was just enough to be really pretty and then it melted in a few days. Puff is in her favorite "bed" on the deck and staying out of the cold stuff!



[Puff on deck]


[Snow and lavender stems]


Last year's lavender stems in the West Perennial bed (where I still need to weed). Hard to believe they were once filled with the buzzing of bumblebees.



The same Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' shown above, with a bit of a snow challenge. The flowers came through with flying colors and are still blooming away. I need to walk back when the rains let up and take a sniff of that great spicy smell!



[Viburnum 'Dawn' with snow]


[Helleborus orientalis buds with snow]


These are two of the Hellebore seedlings that were set two years ago in the oak bed. It's the first year for them to bloom and some already have multiple stems...let's hear it for ALFALFA!



The regular Cyclamen coum in the north bed, bending under snow. I just took some close-ups of these without snow and I hope a couple of them turned out. What a sight for color deprived eyes!



[Cyclamen coum under snow]


[Witch Hazel during thaw]

As the snow was melting and we had a spot of sun, I took a picture of the Witch Hazel/Hamamelis mollis near our bedroom window in the alley bed. It's a slow grower, but I'm going to need to trim it each year now that it has put on some size. These are wonderful plants with a fragrance that I've always said to me smells like the pulp of fresh squeezed oranges. Not all my kids smell it that way though...noses are not all the same.

This page last updated on February 17, 1999. (minor edit on January 11, 2000 before reposting)
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