Monthly Archives: December 2013

At the End of the Year

For the last blog of the year here are a few favorite pictures from 2013. Some of them are of beautiful things and some of them just make me smile, like the picture of all the seedlings coming up for the plant sale.  Happy New Year!

Jan 24 2013 012

January 24th 2013, frost patterns on the glass inside the Conservatory. Temperature outside was -3 F.

blizzard 2013

February 8th, 2013, the Blizzard left about 18 inches (?) of snow in South County and damaged many, many trees

hamamelis/witch hazel

March , signs of spring!

seedlings in greenhouse

April, seedlings for plant sale.

solomon seal

azaleas

May is glorious!

June, midsummer, green.

June, midsummer, green.

July, full of colors.

July, full of colors.

August

August.

August 8 2013-012

sedum 'Autumn Joy'

September

PLS 351

October–fall is the best time to plant!

dahlia tubers

November, putting away the dahlias for the winter.

holly

December.

Featured Plant: Mountain Laurel

Yesterday, I was doing my best to have a real day off.  Most of the family (missing the one off at college!) was home so we cranked up the woodstove against the damp chill and sat around. I did some knitting but then true to form got restless and had to head outside. Bundled up, I walked through the back and out around the edge of the turf fields. Then up along the side of one pond and away from the road to head to the edge of another pond deep in the woods. Most of this area between the ponds is filled with Mountain Laurel. What a beautiful plant! With so many trees bare of leaves, this lovely evergreen shrub with twisting branches really stood out in yesterday’s dull overcast light.

kalmia latifoliaKalmia latifolia is an Ericaceous plant native to the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida. In my mind it is associated with Rhododendrons (and they are closely related), but Mountain Laurel generally grows at higher elevations and tolerates drier soil.  It is a slow-growing understory shrub here, although farther south it does reach tree size. Kalmia flowers in late May/early June, often heavily. The flowers  of the native species range from white to pink, with variable red markings.

kalmia latifolia

photo courtesy of Connecticut Botanical Society

kalmia latifolia

photo courtesy Janet Novak

Spring time and flowers are far off, but even in winter, I find Kalmia beautiful. As the PlantFinder says, it’s a

…”Superior flowering native shrub for groups or massing in shrub borders, cottage gardens, woodland areas or wild/naturalized areas. Compliments rhododendrons and azaleas.”

In any area with acidic soil, some moisture, and a bit of shade, it will do well. In the swampy woods of southern Rhode Island, it’s a treat to see even on the greyest day.

mountain laurel

Brown

Oh, December.  Walking around the Garden with my camera, I see brown, and brown. The light at this time of day, late afternoon, is just lovely, but not much is inspiring me to take pictures…

stewartia japonicaThe Stewartia bark stands out, with it’s peeling layers.

stone wallThe stone walls with moss.

picea orientalis 'skylands'A bit of color here on the Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’. I don’t particularly like yellow variegation  –looks sickly!– but it definitely catches the eye in this brown landscape.

nemopanthus mucronatusAnd a bit here too with the berries on Nemopanthus mucronatus (soon to be Ilex mucronatus).

When it snows, I’ll get the camera out. Fresh snow makes me think black and white, shadows, texture. Bright sun and sky, bright snow, dark trees. The contrast of evergreens and red berries, the outlines highlighted by frost. I’m not really ready for it, still savoring the wonderful Thanksgiving week I had. Maybe by Solstice I’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas, camera in hand. What catches your eye at this time of year?