Monthly Archives: February 2016

color when we need it most: 2 plants in the plant profile spotlight

Late February tends to be the most dull and depressing  of all the months. Very little green ,lots of brown, and usually ( although not this year) dirty snow piles to further dampen our spirits.  It is the month I treasure the shrubs I grow with colored bark the most as  they are what I can see peeking out of a blanket of snow providing that vivid jolt of color to brighten the day.DSC_0011 DSC_0016 red twig dogwood

this year though, because we have had so little snow, I am also getting to revel in the glorious color of two ground covers . After a day of torrential rains , the ground is now bare, and boy are these two showing their worth!

the first is a pig squeak ( how adorable is that name?) otherwise known as bergenia  ’Bressingham Ruby’. Sporting polished green leaves in the summer that turn a lovely burnished red in autumn, this low growing perennial is a keeper. I starting adding more and more varieties of bergenia after realizing the rabbits were leaving it alone and i am sure glad I added  this one! I saw a photo somewhere of’ Bressingham Ruby’ planted en masse at the base of red twig dogwood bushes . A phenomenal design idea, but here in winter  when both plants are at their most colorful, the bergenia will usually be under snow . i figured at least in late winter and early spring before the dogwoods fully leaf out I would reap the color benefit of these two together, and started with just a half dozen plants to see how it went. Now I want 50. It looks great, is truly a no-fuss plant, and still remains un- grazed by our little furry friends.  Pigsqueak is also dry shade tolerant  so I plan to add more of this variety to the back woodland walk this year.

Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ is hardy to zone 4 , can tolerate full sun to almost full shade,  and will bloom in the late spring ( which is just s bonus , it is the foliage color we are after here). The only place it will sulk is a wet or boggy soil.

With my apologies for the lack of a great photo, it is very windy here today and hard to keep the camera focused, but i wanted you to see how great it looks under the dogwood. The second photo is from Bluestone Perennials where you can purchase it online.bergenia 'Bressingham Ruby'

Out front I have a little raised bed that has become the bane of my gardening existence. The voles LOVE to set up house there are have proven a formidable foe. The small bed in front of the rocks I was hoping to fill with interesting low growers but have really struck out with many of my choices and have replanted there too many times to count. Last year I planted 5 little shrubs  as yet another test , and I believe we have a winner!DSC_0028DSC_0023

Calluna vulgaris “Firelfly’ is a heather with brilliant fall/winter color that looks spectacular right now. In the summer the foliage was a bright sort of lime green with a bit of yellow added in. As autumn settled in, Firefly started to change into terra cotta-y orange and seemed to just glow, and I was in love. Now exposed from it’s blanket of snow, it is pretty darn near brick red and has firmly secured it’s place in the front garden,  Add in the fact that maintenance is just a quick shearing once a year to keep it neat and compact and that means all other plants currently living  in that cursed bed  will be jettisoned in the spring to make way for more of this lovely small shrub.

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ is hardy to zone 4 or 5 , will show it’s best color in full sun but will tolerate light shade, grows to less than 2 ftx 2 ft  and sports lavender flowers in late summer ….but who cares about that?? …look at that foliage!!!! My plants came from Digging Dog Nursery mail order  and they will be available this year from them as well .


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It is one of the great wonders to me why many  people who live in New England don’t like the snow.DSC_0003

I get that it certainly disrupts the regular hum of life, but so do many other things that do not leave such beauty in their wake.DSC_0007

I get that it is accompanied by cold temperatures, but most of us are lucky to watch it from warm snuggly homes and even better yet , in front of a roaring fire.IMG_20160123_153130049DSC_0025

I get that shoveling is hard work, but personally I relish getting my cardio outside instead of on a treadmill, you can’t beat the views.DSC_0019

Maybe it is because I garden that I love the snow.  Seeing the splendor of the winter garden with all its exposed shapes and forms and knowing the plants are all asleep for a time giving me a chance to take it all in without feeling compelled to work.DSC_0024

DSC_0013Maybe it is because I knit that I look forward to winter. During a cold snap I will happily curl up at night with squishy wool and needles and make something usefulIMG_20160208_205918

Maybe it’s because these guys love it so much that I can’t help but be compelled to share their  delight .DSC_0003 (2) DSC_0020

We ventured out to the Clark Art Institute last weekend and I came home with this postcard of Camille Pissaro’s ” Piette’s House at Montfoucault” to put on the bulletin board above my desk . We have had less snow than normal this year and I missed the white winter landscape of  January February.DSC_0027

On the way we drove through some amazing scenery in the western and mountainous part of our state. We did not stop to take pictures  except for one…..IMG_20160130_160050138_HDR

seems the ultimate irony  to live in a place called Florida  that looks like this , although honestly it is the only Florida i would ever consider living in.

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and the answer is……

today I have found out the answer to the question, “What happens when you try to force branches in to bloom during a very warm and un-snowy winter?” …. the answer?forsythia DSC_0003 DSC_0005


All of the branches I brought in are bursting into bloom and leaf with ease.  I cut the first batch when I posted here  exactly two weeks ago. I have changed the water in the vases once, and misted the buds NEVER which is unusual for me , and yet I have honeysuckle, forsythia, magnolia, azalea and pussy willows all starting to open this morning. When they are all in flower further pics will be on my instagram and Facebook… links  are to  the right.

If you live in the Northeast, where we are currently experiencing extremely warm temps (, today is in the high 50′s, yesterday was in the 60′s), you have no excuse , you heard me , none, but to get out  and cut at will. There is no snow to plow through, you need but a light cardigan over your shoulders, and the sun is shinning to replenish  your  depleted vitamin D level.




Smile :)

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