An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 22, 2009

A Mixed Bag

Today was an odd day, particularly weather wise. It was rather mild in the morning with temperatures in the low 50's. I had a good swim at the Y and the lifeguard had the outside doors propped open to get some air. By the time I finished the temps had plummeted and the air coming through the open door was uncomfortably cold, and I did not want to get out of the warm water . It started raining as I headed into work and was pouring when I pulled into the parking lot.

We offer free classes to the public at work, and today was my first of the season. The topic was timely and was a basic pruning class. I have taught this class now for over 10 years, and I have always looked at it as the start of our spring season. Normally at the end of the class I take the participants into the display gardens where they can watch me prune a rose, a hydrangea or a buddleia. However, when the class ended it started raining again, turned to sleet, then to snow and then to a mix of all. About 20 minutes later the sun came out, but on the western horizon were nothing but angry, black clouds, and sure enough in another 20 minutes we had more rain and snow.

During the break between bouts of precipitation the light was good so I took a few pictures around the display gardens and in the nursery. A mixed bag of weather calls for a mixed bag of plants.

Chinese Winged Euonymus (Euonymus phellomanus) attracts little attention most of the year, but in the fall the foliage gets to be a good red, falls off and reveals this incredible bark.

Pulmunaria x 'Raspberry Splash' is just starting to bloom.
These are the fruits of shrub-like Sabal minor one of our hardiest palms.
Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) are the only reliably hardy, tree-like palms for our area. People grow other trunked palms, but not without extreme winter protection that I am unwilling to try.
Pinus virginiana 'Wate's Golden'
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise'

Cyclamen hedrifolium

I do not know what species this Sotol is...... nor this Agave.
The forecast for the upcoming week - more of the same.


  1. What a day indeed!! The snow flurries around 5 pm were the icing on the cake. Now the deck steps are icy.
    A bit cold to be pruning outside...brrr.

  2. That does indeed sound odd. I don't know how to prune properly. Mostly I chop and hope for the best. All the blooms and berries look interesting. I'd buy them in a minute if I lived closer. I need a ton of plants for my new yard. Do you deliver? ;)

  3. Been brrr cold here too. Your pulmonaria is way a head of ours. Lovely plants. I am looking for a windmill palm. I have just the container.

  4. he weather this winter has been anything and everything but normal! (It is about 10 to 15 degrees colder each day then our usual highs...maybe this means we will have a decent spring with not blooms wiped out!)

    The cyclamen leaves are incredible, the markings are beautiful and please send me the pulmonaria right away;-)

    Hope the week gets better~~


  5. Don't care for snowdrops, do you?

  6. That cyclamen photo is fantastic. I'm just now starting to see activity in the garden, Forsythia waking up, some of the early bulbs greening and, of course, the dandelions and invasive honeysuckle are also stretching their spring time legs.

    Great photos!

  7. Great line-up Les! I've got to get out there! Are you starting to get stuff in?
    I especially like the witchhazel and the Pinus virginiana...

  8. The witchhazel shots are wonderful...don't like it so much here in Charleston...

  9. That Euonymous is a TRIP! I've never seen that before.

  10. Aha! So that's the beginning of the fun. I love those berries. Great post, Les. Wish I could watch you pruning the rose bush too...

  11. Hi Les, that was weird. Your class sounds very interesting. I would think there would be a lot of people needing help with that, especially the hydrangeas.

    It also sounds from you comment that the waxwings were quite active in your area too. The black blobs everywhere in the back garden are proof of their numbers!

  12. Wow, your yard looks positively tropical. We have snow piled up above our deck. My definition of warm is melting snow. Thanks for sharing your spring.

  13. Janet,
    I'll ready when this weather makes up its mind.

    About as close as we get to you is Ahoskie.

    Will the Windmill overwinter in a pot in your area?

    I hope we do have a decent spring, I for one need it. I get the feeling everything will open all at once.

    I love your snowdrops, but am having trouble posting comments on your blog.

    We are in the waking up phase as well, but we are having trouble getting out of bed.

    You have expensive taste.

    Thanks for the compliment. I guess it is too hot for Witchhazel there.

    We have been carrying this plant for a few years. It is so similar to E. alata except with exagerated bark.

    I thought the palm fruits looked like black pearls.

    Thanks for stopping by. People around here prune Hydrangeas badly, almost as much as they mangle Crape Myrtles.

    Sounds like it will be May before it all melts. I heard that Maine got pelted this week.


  14. I've never seen that Virginia pine cultivar before - interesting! Does it have the same scraggly shape as the normal species?

  15. What?? No heads up about being in the paper?

  16. Phillip,
    The pines we have are young and still fairly straight, but I do know of one nearby that is getting the characteristic growht habit.

    She asked for some info, so I obliged. They are one of my favorite perennials.


  17. OK, weird question: How DO you trim a buddleia in VA? In Michigan, I simply cut it down to about six inches in spring and it blooms on new wood.

  18. Monica,
    We cut ours back also, but only about a foot from the ground. I love your chainsaw.