Category Archives: Garden photography

Featured Plant: Witch Hazel

It’s noon, and it’s 12 degrees, but it’s sunny with no wind… so I went out to the garden to look for signs of spring….crazy, I know. I stepped in a snowbank over my knees but then was able to walk on top of the two or so feet of frozen snow on the ground. I wanted to look at the ‘Arnold Promise’ witch hazel over by the gazebo. It has skinny little yellow flowers with a light fragrance, and like all the witch hazels, blooms very early. Today I saw just the tiniest bit of yellow peeking out from between the scales of the flower buds. That’s a good sign! From the sidewalk on Upper College Road I looked closely at the ‘Jelena’ witch hazel , another very early bloomer. It is at the same stage as ‘Arnold Promise’, with about a millimeter of orange petal showing. Our third witch hazel is the native Ozark witch hazel, with slightly smaller flowers but much more fragrance. I did not see any sign that it is waking from it’s long winter’s nap just yet.

arnold promise witch hazel

‘Arnold Promise’, Hamamelis x intermedia, March 25, 2014

Hamamelis , the genus of witch hazels, are hardy, low maintenance plants with few pest problems. Whether you think of them as small trees or large shrubs, they are a manageable size at 10 to 15 feet, with some spreading forms nearly as wide. They have smooth, rather plain brown-to-gray bark and heavily textured oval leaves, which turn mostly yellow in fall. And then there’s the reason we love them: spidery, strappy little flowers with long, crinkly petals, all along the branches, when almost nothing else is blooming.

witch hazel jelena

‘Jelena’, Hamamelis x intermedia, February 28, 2011

Hamamelis virginiana, native to eastern North America, blooms around November, and is the plant used for the witch hazel extract you can buy at your local drugstore.

Hamamelis vernalis is native to stream banks of the south-central US. It is the earliest shrub to flower in spring, and its small, yellow-red blooms open  from late February to early April, depending on the weather. It can form dense, multi-stemmed colonies  by sending out suckers. The medium green leaves turn golden yellow in fall. Our Ozark witch hazel is H. vernalis, and when it blooms it smells like springtime!

Hamamelis x intermedia are vigorous hybrid witch hazels, crosses of the Japanese and Chinese species. Blooming from late February to March, their yellow-red petals unfurl on warm days but curl up tightly during chilly nights. The fall foliage is an attractive yellow-orange. Our ‘Arnold Promise’ and ‘Jelena’ are both H. x intermedia. They are sure signs that spring is on it’s way. Take a walk through the Botanical Gardens in the next few weeks (wear your boots) and you’ll find the earliest flowers on the witch hazel, a treat for the winter-weary and anyone ready longer, warmer days.

ozark witch hazel

H. vernalis, February 22, 2012

Real Rain

That’s what everybody here is walking around saying, with a smile and a grateful look at the gray skies. Yes, it’s been quite a while. I like having a rain day to focus on the greenhouse, dividing and potting up plants, rearranging, cleaning up, and taking cuttings. Here are some greenhouse plants which caught my eye today.

Tibouchina

Tibouchina/ Princess Flower

Mimosa

Mimosa / Sensitive Plant

Anthurium

Anthurium

Canna

Canna

Cactus

Cactus–unlabeled!

Justicia

Justicia carnea / Plume Flower

Polypodium

Polypodium Fern

September Sights

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’   ‘Indian Summer’,  I think!  That’s what happens when I let everything seed in…

rose

Rosa ‘Dortmund’

locust borer beetle

Megacyllene robiniae, the Locust Borer Beetle. A new one to me!

ant and bee

Apis mellifera, warming my beekeeper’s heart, and an ant (Lasius niger??) on Hydrangea ‘Tardiva’.

goldenrod and physostegia

Solidago and Physostegia, the colors of September.

 

Into July

It’s been quite a while since the last post! With the weather fine and dry through most of June, we spent all our days out in the garden. Now it’s hot and humid, with a tropical storm predicted for Independence Day. It seems early for hurricanes*, but hey, I’m not a meteorologist, I’m a gardener. And so, here are pictures of the garden. Lots of color as we head into full summer!

bee balm/monarda and wild marjoram

Bee Balm (Monarda) and wild marjoram.

daylily

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

astilbe

Astilbe

Anthemis and bright orange Asclepias

More Bee Balm, one of my favorites!

More Bee Balm, one of my favorites!

Lavender (Lavandula) growing along the sidewalk to the greenhouse.

Lavender (Lavandula) growing along the sidewalk to the greenhouse.

* Hurricane Rhyme…… “June: too soon,  July: stand by,  August: upon us,  September: remember,  October: all over.”

Either a  “mariner’s proverb”, or a “Carribean folk saying”,  reportedly first published in “Weather Lore” by R. Inwards in 1898.

 

 

 

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?

Thirty Days in September…

GaillardiaThe weather has been nothing short of spectacular — blue sky, golden sun, perfect temperatures. The angle of the light is changing for sure; fall has arrived. Rumors of frost come in from Carolina (“down in the valley”) and from the banks of the Saugatucket in Wakefield –enough frost to scrape off the car windshield. But not here on Kingston Hill. Although the colors are fading a bit and the green leaves are dusty looking, full autumn foliage has not arrived. Just a bit of yellow on the Sassafras and red on the Tupelo. Flowers are still blooming in the garden. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Autumn joy sedumbee on sunflowerasterechinaceae 'cheyenne spirit'anemonesverbena bonariensis