gbbd early spring

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I salute the pioneers. Eventually, this bed will be awash in ‘Georgia Blue’ Veronica peduncularis, but right now this brave, lone blossom is scouting the territory.

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Always the first of the daffys to bloom, this Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ is in the vanguard.

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The same can be said for a common little woodland violet.

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The slugs are merciless when it comes to the primrose blooms.

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Means had primroses and pansies for 99cents. I’m thinking maybe these, on longer stems, will be less susceptible to the slime brigade.

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Huckleberry flowers are tiny little things, as are the berries that follow…but OH, that wild taste.

Bloom Day’s host, CAROL is waiting for your visit.

in a vase: small gleanings

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Here’s what I’m working with this week: a small white porcelain vase with a deco-like bas relief around its base and petal-like flared rim; moss to fill the vase and stabilize the stems; a skewer to poke holes in the moss; two small stems of Helleborus (stems dunked in boiling water to prolong life); three leaves each of Pulmonaria and Heuchera.

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The Helebore is still in bud. It will be a greenish white when it blooms out but at this stage the maroon markings on the undersides of the petals are still visible, reinforced by the maroon of the Heuchera leaves. The sword shape and different patterning of the Pulmonaria leaves provide contrast and echo the shape of the leaves on the vase. All of these things were planted before I started keeping records, so that’s the best I can do with ID.

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I kept it sparse to leave room for the buds to open and reveal their pretty inner workings.

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Finally, I added a small votive in a frosted glass container and some match boxes covered with marbleized paper that echoes the colors of my little spring posy (well, winter, technically, but let’s pretend, shall we?)

Mondays are vase days, here and HERE, where Cathy hosts any and all would-be flower arrangers to adopt this habit forming meme. No pressure: drop in when it suits you, or take up the challenge to fill a vase with something from your garden every week, year-round.

GBQ&A

I got questions. You got answers? The garden is rife with puzzles. It has been my experience that throwing a question into the blogosphere never fails to produce answers. So how about this? Let’s use the first week of each month to pose one (or two, or more) of those questions that have been nagging us and see what comes back to us. No chain letter type threats: “if you don’t do this Flora will cast a withering spell on your precious plants”, just a friendly Garden Bloggers’ Q&A. I’ll kick things off:

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You may recall my non-traditional Christmas tree. If not, you will find it HERE. After a little over a week adorned with angels and such, it was beginning to leaf out and even form buds. A freeze was coming. I feared that it would turn up its toes if I moved it outside into those conditions, so I just moved it into a corner of the living room. We keep the temperature at about 65 degrees. I now have a fully leafed out, blooming Cornus sericea  ‘Cardinal’. I’m wondering if I did the right thing and when would be the best time to put it in the ground. Help me if you can.

You know how these things work. If you have a question of your own, write about it and leave a link to your post here. A link back to this post on yours will keep the ball rolling. I’m thinking we could aim for any time during the first week of the month, but loose rules are the best rules, so bend them to your own best use.

in a vase on monday: the yellow season

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I picked up a couple of these little vases for a song (well, cheap…you wouldn’t want to hear me sing).

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The little raised polka dots show up better against dark stems and water.

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Some nice weather led to time outside cutting things back. Skeletal remains of Joe Pye Weed were so lacy they nearly disappear in the vase, but if you look closely you can see little dots at the ends of each filament-like branch (gotta keep that polka dot theme going). As I was hacking back the 8′ stalks of Joe, an over-the-fence conversation yielded this question: “what do you use that for?” Um…to look at(?)

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I had cut some Forsythia branches weeks ago to force into bloom. A smattering of yellow blossoms graced the arching twigs but the effect was underwhelming. Winter Jasmine was blooming more profusely on stiff, kind of awkward branches. The flowers are nearly identical. I got the look I was after by using a combination of the two.

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I like my yellow in small doses, so the sparseness of the flowers strikes me as just right. I added a glass bowl of Lemonhead lemon drops and an actual lemon as props.

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These winter bouquets last on and on and…on. I’m running out of places to put them as they are retired from center stage. This one is in the bathroom.

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Remember this one? A gift exchange brought me the striped candles in colors that work perfectly, especially after adding a branch of Witch Hazel.

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And this one is still going strong, with only a few petals having dropped from the Poinsettia. I think it lasts longer as a cut flower than it would have on the plant. I’ve passed a couple of past bouquets on to friends, one of whom passes on to me every vase that comes her way. The word is out, I guess, that I have become a flower cutting fool ever since joining Cathy in making a posy from the garden’s gleanings every Monday.

in a vase on monday: good things in small packages

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This little pot, a favorite from a local potter who has since moved on to more colorful and less subtle creations, usually sits on a windowsill holding post-its. It measures roughly 3″ in every direction.

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I found it perfect for the dainty cuttings of winter: three snowdrops, a sprig of Sarcacocca, some lacy evergreen fern (Polystichum setiferum I think), one dainty stem of Epimedium foliage and a small branch of Hamamelis ‘Diane’.

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I took the cuttings and put them in the vase late yesterday…even took some photos but never got around to posting. The one advantage to tardiness is that by this morning the snowdrops had opened further, to reveal the markings. I added the small silver watering can (a gift intended as a key ring charm, but I feared misplacing it by going the way of all keys eventually) and took advantage of better light to take a few more photos.

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Having these on the dining room table puts them right at eye level, where the graphic design wrought by nature can be fully appreciated.

If you have been following along, you already know that this is part of a habit-forming meme originated by Cathy. Click on the link for a world of floral fun.

triple play: ffu, gbfd and garden favorite

foggy foliage

Our days have been starting out cloaked in fog. Looking out from the front deck, the scene is framed by gnarly cherry tree branches on the right and red branches of Stachyrus praecox on the left, giving perspective to the cedar trees disappearing gradually into the fog.

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The view out back has deciduous trees forming the scrim in front of the ghostly forms of conifers farther down the trail into the woods.

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There was moss left over after using some at the base of our “Christmas Tree”. It was left in a wire basket on the outdoor table and up popped these cute little fungi for a natural fairy garden look.

Mahonia 'Arthur Menzes'

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’ finally came across with some flowers this year, but it is here as a foliage plant. It’s stiff, holly-like leaves are evergreen and textural for year-round interest.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis 'Grannies Ringlets'

And to complete the triple play of the title, here’s my favorite plant of the week: Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’. That Arcostaphylos in the background currently obscures it from the entry drive, but from the back side of the bed its curlique habit stands out from its more serious neighbors. It will eventually gain enough height to make its presence known from any angle. Loree of Danger Garden fame hosts the favorite plant meme and will have a roundup on the last Friday of the month. I have long participated in Pam’s Foliage Follow-Up meme at Digging. Recently I discovered a similar meme, Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, hosted by Christina. I may be cheating a bit by hitting all three with one post, but you know how it is when the weather turns nice enough to get out there to start weeding and pruning, so I trust you will forgive me.

A comment from Anna brought to my attention that I did not include any info about Granny. You can find it HERE.

in a vase on monday…on tuesday

Ranunculus asiaticus

A visit to Garden Fever turned up 4″ pots of Ranunculus asiaticus in the color of orange sherbet. I had the silver pots (vases) from the table decorations for a summer wedding. The nursery pots slip right into them, deeply enough to hide the plastic.

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We were having friends to lunch, and Susan (one of our guests) had given me the 3 silver candle holders that echo the color and shape of the pots. Sherbet and cookies for desert carried the theme even a step further.  I guess this is cheating a little bit, because the flowers didn’t come from my garden, but they will be headed there now that they have served their purpose as table decorations. Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden is very forgiving of stretching the definition of ‘In a Vase on Monday’, so don’t hesitate to join in, or at least check it out.

gbbd, short & sweet

Hamamelis 'Early Bright'

I bought Hamamelis ‘Early Bright’ last year about this time as a fairly small specimen. I’m surprised and delighted to see it blooming. It is Early and it is Bright. I was told it had fragrance, but have yet to detect any. I suppose if it was brought into the house I might smell it, but it needs to put on more growth before I’ll be comfortable cutting even a snippet.

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Winter Jasmine does have fragrance…

Jasminum nudiflorum

But though the plant is sizable, the flowers are sparse. There are many buds, but they tend to open slowly over a long period of time.

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I have complained frequently about the frostbite on Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’. It was easy to put mittens on the tight buds prior to our first cold snap, but they had bloomed out sufficiently to make it impossible the second time around. You may be able to see the blackened tips on the outermost blossoms. Those that were more protected, growing more toward the center of the plant, fared better. Arthur, I fear, will never be as show-offy as his cousin ‘Charity’.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi'

Once you start wondering about something, the answer is sure to reveal itself in other blogs, even if you don’t take the trouble to put the word out. The little bud-like doohickeys on the tips of Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’ are flowers. Pretty cute, if you ask me.

Aloe 'Carmine'

Coming indoors, you can see proof that my Aloes bloom reliably, sometimes more than once a year. They are pretty puny, nothing like the magnificent blooms you will see if you follow the blog Piece of Eden. Still, they make me happy, and I’ll take what I can get without moving to a climate at odds with my webfoot ways.

Don’t forget to check in with May Dreams Gardens to see January’s blooms world-wide.

shades of green in a vase this monday

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Here’s what I have to work with.

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I’m especially fond of this vintage frog. It’s a nice artifact sitting in my downstairs work area. It also works really well for anchoring stems in a vase. Of course we won’t see it once it’s pressed into service here.

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I usually use the green pot as a cachepot into which I slip a nursery pot. It has recently held Cyclamen, then Poinsettia, but now I’m going to treat it like a vase. Some branches of Chamaecyparis ‘Barry’s Silver’ form a feathery background to the rosette of Lanceolata Kale. We’ve been putting this kale in our morning smoothies, but, with the help of other greedy critters, it had been whittled down to what could pass as a dark green cabbage rose. A few bare, red branches from the Oxydendrum provide the only non-green element, but there is enough yellow-to-chartreuse in there to make it feel quite colorful.

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To keep the green theme going I set the table with green napkins in my favorite napkin rings (ivory-painted cast iron birds, each in a slightly different pose), and a green metal dish containing river rocks.

Started by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, this meme challenges us to find material for a bouquet every Monday of the year right in our own back yards. It’s an eye-opening exercise that can be downright habit-forming.

here’s a favorite: can you tell me its name?

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The last time I visited Digs Inside and Out on Alberta Street, I found this cuddly cactus. JJ always has a few interesting plants, but this one has special appeal and here’s why:

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Last summer JJ threw open her garden for the Garden Bloggers’ Fling. I was not alone in oohing and aahing over the squid pot on the wall or the equally drool-worthy plant it contained.

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I couldn’t quite spring for one of the pots, but the plant was like bringing home a memento of sunny days, surrounded by the cream of gardening’s crop of gardeners in beautiful and imaginative settings.

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I had just rediscovered this pot made by Hillary (daughter) when she was in grade school. The cactus, in its pot, fit exactly, with a little vertical wiggle room. I’m squeamish about taking a drill to any pot, but especially one this precious. I put some gravel in the bottom of the cachepot to bring the nursery pot level with the lip, then topped off with more gravel as a dressing.

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I’ve had luck with the no-holes approach as long as the pots are not placed where they can be waterlogged by rain. If all goes as planned, my no-name cactus will thrive, multiply and begin to droop over the edges of its new home much as JJ’s mature specimen has done. Our host for Friday favorites, Danger Garden has one of these and can probably enlighten us with its proper name. A click to check out Loree’s blog is never amiss, regardless.