Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cyclamen hederifolium: dormant all summer, but it looks good now

Killing frosts at night and daytime temperatures in the mid-30s F have devastated most of the late fall-flowering plants in the garden. The large-leafed tropicals hang limp,tattered, and rotten. I spent an hour or so this morning cutting leaves off of bananas and removing most of the tops of Hedychiums. But all is not lost.

In the Washington Post today Angus Phillips in his Outdoors column quotes Bill Burton who he identifies as "the dean of outdoor writers in our region. If you have something to do tomorrow you probably won't die today." I like that quote and agree with it. I have a version more applicable to gardeners: If you have something to look forward to tomorrow and next week and the week after that and next season and so on, you'll never die. least you'll have an incentive to wake up every day. That's a good thing.

While the cold has killed off the open and partially open flowers on the camellias, the tight buds are intact and they will open when temperatures go back to a more normal 50/30 diurnal alternation. And the Darley Dale heaths are beginning to open; we don't ever get temperatures low enough to faze them. And the plants with winter color in their stems have largely attained that color: 'Sango kaku" Japanese maple, Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter's Fire', the other Cornus and Salix. The complexly variegated winter foliage of Cyclamen hederifolium braves the cold valiantly. And there are still berries. And winter leaves with color: Nandina, Mahonia, Itea, and more. Later in the season Iris unguicularis, the winter-flowering Algerian Iris will flower in those unseasonably warm interludes that we inevitably experience. Chimonanthus praecox, Wintersweet, will flower with its incredible fragrance. If you have included enough diversity and planned with all the seasons in mind you will be able to walk through your garden every day and experience the delight of finding something fresh and new even in the dead of winter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris, I'm enjoying your blog. I was at the Rick Darke lecture and overheard Joan mention your blog to a woman who does GardenRant and was planning on writing-up the lecture. And it was easy to locate. I'm a former arboretum gardener (the 2-day-a week roving kind -- what I'm told Rocky now does) so you blog is also a way for me to stay in touch with what's happning in the gardens there. In many ways your blog is more interesting and telling than the USNA website. Anyway, enjoy the pictures and well-rounded and informed garden musings. Hope you keep it up.
Sarah Strickler