December 13, 2008

Winter Wonders, Weeds and Warm Weather


Micro-climate gardening gets me through the winter. Yesterday was a great December day. The sun was shining and the outside morning temperature was 39°F. Sounds cold? Our porch temperature was 80°F!

After toasting in the sun through coffee and breakfast on our front porch, my husband headed out for a run and I headed out in the garden. Our neighbors must think we're totally crazy! Of course, the garden is cooler than the porch, but I worked without a jacket and was toasty warm in our sunny gardens. I wish I could share the warmth and sunshine with my fellow gardeners who are suffering from seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).

I decided to start the weeding with the cottage garden so that it would be all nice and neat for the holidays. After several inches of rain this week, I dug out the wild onions with no problems. I easily scooped out other encroaching weeds with my trowel.

The waterfall garden needed a bit of tending. The calla lily had finally folded, so I trimmed up the foliage. The creeping jenny was creeping too far into the water, so I wore rubber gloves to pull it out. I moved those ground-covering clumps to the backside of the waterfall hill that needs some erosion control. Not a big loss if the jenny doesn't make it. All you have to do is pinch of a sprig of jenny and place it in water or soil to root.

The rabbits (or deer) had totally munched down the heuchera in the fragrance garden. I know this isn't a good time to transplant, but I dug up a 'Palace Purple', a 'Key Lime' and a 'Peach Flambe' and tucked those inside the cottage garden underneath a buddleia. The soil was still very workable, had drained well and wasn't too wet. Since it rarely freezes in that location, I have high hopes for the heuchera to recover.

The perennials that continue to show pretty foliage are my "winter wonders."

In the cottage garden, the evergreen dianthus (Bath's Pink) edges the gravel path opposite the Knock Out® Roses, that still have leaves. The fragrant foliage of the Spanish lavender was trimmed in October and is now a pretty, grey-green.

At the end of the row of dianthus is a cascading rosemary, still blooming with tiny, blue flowers. The little scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' is still blooming, too. Even several verbena bonariensis are still blooming in front of the porch! The sedum 'Angelina' is bright and colorful underneath the Japanese maple that has lost all leaves at this point. The creeping thyme is green, lush and very fragrant.

Throughout the outer gardens, there are clumps of perfectly green foliage at the base of my agastache 'Salmon and Pink' as well as the 'Coronado'. I noticed that a cutting of salvia gregii had rooted out in the garden, showing tiny green leaves. The cutting started as a broken branch. I trimmed it up, dipped it in rooting compound and just stuck it in the butterfly garden a few months ago.

By the front walkway, the stachys hummelo, monarda, and nepeta are all still healthy clumps of green. The ice plant is looking a bit tired, but I believe it is from the rain. Ice plant is another groundcover that you can pinch in the summer and just plant it in moist soil.

Up on my front porch, the container plants are still blooming. The purple petunias and rosy mums are providing the color.

Not bad for a December day in North Carolina!

Photo and story by Freda Cameron. Photo used was taken a week earlier during a heavy frost.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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