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 16, 2008

An Afternoon at the Hermitage

On Friday afternoon my son and I went by the Hermitage here in Norfolk. The Hermitage Foundation operates a house museum with a noted art collection; it provides gallery, classrooms and studio space for local artists, students and patrons, and for me it also has 12 acres of grounds and gardens. Since it sits on the shores of the Lafayette River, part of their current mission now envolves restoring the shoreline to prevent erosion and to provide habitat for terrestrial and aquatic life. They have alot on their plate.

As we were headed back to the car we caught the unmistakeable scent of Winter Daphne (Daphne odora). After following the smell we found what I think is the most perfect specimen of Winter Daphne I have ever scene. This notoriously finicky plant was in full bloom and smelled of equal parts lemon and vanilla. It should be sited in a place that gets dappled shade or morning sun only, and in our hot humid climate, it is imparetive that it has good drainage. If it ever gets soggy it will start to die, sometimes fast and sometimes slow, either way, no amount of TLC can bring it back from the brink. Winter Daphne is listed as hardy to zones 7-9, and is worth any amount of trouble needed to make it happy, and if it is happy, don't ever move it.

Here it is close up. I wonder when Microsoft or Google will invent E-aromas.
They had beds full of snowdrops in full bloom.
Tree-like Camellias were also blooming.
I think the ground under blooming Camellias can be just attractive as the plant itself. What I wonder is, how did all of these land upright except for two, and no I did not touch them. I am not sure, but this looks like Lady Clare (Camellia japonica 'Lady Clare').

As I may have mentioned, there is more than a garden on the property. Here is a look a some detailed carving around a cluster of windows. To my eye, it looks as if the wood has never been painted, stained or treated, but given the riverside loacation, they must put something on it.


  1. I planted a Daphne last fall, knowing full well how finicky they are. Keeping my fingers crossed that it thrives!