Monday, January 4, 2016

In Praise of Sunshine!

The final days of 2015 brought a welcome return to blue skies and sunshine.
Damp and unseasonable warmth was replaced with crisp clean air and starlit nights.

 A tulip poplar halfway down the lane.

The fading russets and grey-browns of the winter hillside are enlivened by slanting sunlight.

Before the weather changed I spent an afternoon repotting plants.
I despair of saving my remaining rosemarys.
The two larger ones have presented brown and drying branches, brittle twigs.
I can't identify the source of the problem.
I usually add builder's sand to a standard bagged potting mix hoping to provide better drainage.
When I tipped the rosemarys from their large pots I was surprised to find that the soil toward the bottom of the pots was heavy with moisture.
I carefully pulled away soggy tangled roots, brushed soil from the remaining root balls, pruned sad looking branches and resettled the plants in fresh soil---less sand added to the mix, some peat moss worked in, a layer of crushed rock in the bottom of each pot.
I have placed them under a south window in Jim's shop.
Short of a drastic freeze-up they should be safe.
I'm not optimistic that any or all will flourish.
This is disappointing.

I trimmed the fibrous-rooted begonias which have been carried over for several seasons, brought them from the basement storage room into the laundry area to keep company on the old table with an angel wing begonia.
[Nellie feels that the table is now too crowded.]

I finished my work with the plants just before dark, potting up some slips of Swedish Ivy, and poking barely rooted stems of a vintage geranium into fresh soil, settling the remainder of my paperwhite bulbs into a decorative tin.
By the time I stored soil mix in covered buckets and swept my front porch work area, 
darkness was falling.
I gathered up the pruned bits of rosemary and flung them into the wood fire--a brief burst of spicy scent in the warm kitchen.

With the change of weather we have white and frosty mornings.

Frost covers the still green lemon balm.

 Willis samples ice-coated stems of catnip sprawled near the lemon balm in a corner of the 
perennial strip.

Willis can be counted upon for companionship no matter the weather.

Coming in by way of the steep concrete steps at the side of the house I stopped by the small plot where I have planted a few herbs.
Purple sage wears a frosty coat.

Inside I have been enjoying the progress of the amaryllis.
Behind it is my one remaining prostrate rosemary.
So many seedlings from that loved plant two years ago--so many of them slowly expired.
I would like to place the blame on the interminable hot and wet summer of the past year.

A marvel of delicate color and intricate folds.



  1. It all looks beautiful, and properly wintery. I have just ordered two cold frames for protecting seedlings etc. Wretched hens pull all new plants up, a never ending battle.

    1. Thelma; I like your use of the descriptive word 'wretched'--its one I employ quite often.
      I have to report that my 'wretched' cats are clever at uprooting transplants--and doing unthinkable things in the earth thus excavated.

  2. I am settling for bowl after bowl of hyacinths indoors at present. My Aged Aunty sent me one for Christmas from a local florist, and it has 9 bulbs in it so will look and smell a treat soon.

    I hope your rosemaries make it and that you caught them just in time.

    We are still having the wettest winter on record here - terrible flooding the length of the country (only dry East Anglia has escaped). One of Scotland's ancient castles (Abergeldie) has been all but undermined by the recent flooding.

    I wouldn't say no to some sunshine and frosts here but it's unlikely to happen.

    1. Jennie; I expect we will have a return of wet weather--dreary, but thus far we have been spared floods and such.
      I've always thought January demands some creative thinking to ward off melancholy--flowering plants indoors, projects, books--and probably bestirring ourselves to go outdoors and walk about when weather allows.

  3. The sage looks so pretty under its coating of frost. Willis seems to be enjoying his catnip ice lollies!

    It is satisfying to keep plants going over the winter months.

    1. DW; Strangely, even several clumps of self-sown petunias are still alive in a corner by the south wall of the house. Purple sage has, in the past, proved more tender than the common varieties--I hope it survives.

  4. Hope your rosemary survives. It is always a bummer when we love plants.

    Your amaryllis are lovely and bring joy into your winter home.

    It is gray, with rain clouds and a stiff breeze down here in s.e. FL, the temp at 8:19 EST is 70 and feels like it is 66. It feels great! I hope to get out to do some front hedge trimming as it's growing out into the sidewalk.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I can only imagine the work involved in keeping gardens in bounds where the climate is tropical. You must feel that everything grows by leaps and bounds whenever you turn your back for a day!

  5. I also rejoice in the sunshine. Love the pictures as usual. You'll have to post one of the amaryllis when it's in full bloom.

    1. Lillian; I think I neglected to take a photo of the amaryllis today--tomorrow for sure. The paperwhites are now past their best.

  6. I hope you save your rosemary, Mac severely pruned the large one I had in the garden and it looks like it is dying. Your amaryllis looks amazing.

    1. Janet; Too far north here for a rosemary to winter over outside--my troubles with the current large ones began last year when I left them on the porch too late and they were frosted. I am not optimistic about their chances for revival. Finicky!

  7. I love your plants. Hope your Rosemary plants make it. Have a good week.

    1. Deb; I poked at the rosemary plants today, tried to send encouraging thoughts their way, but the outlook isn't inspiring!

  8. The frost covered close up of the lemon balm is just beautiful. I wonder if we will be getting any cold weather this year, so far it has just been warm and wet.

    1. Briony; I didn't mind the 'warm' through December--the 'wet'became very tiresome! I've never had lemon balm holding up into December before.