six on Saturday, 4 February 2023

Finally the rain and clouds have cleared away from Blount County Alabama, but the cold and wind remain. Breezy and 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 C) as I write. But there is sun and that makes it all much better. The patches of daffodils beginning to bloom throughout the garden and wooded area help considerably as well. Before some rather intense and insistent rain started earlier this week, I gathered the flowers in the featured image, bringing them in to brighten my reading corner.

1. I begin this week’s six with daffodils, then. Although I taught British literature to undergraduates for over40 years, I confess I have never been enamored with the Romantics; nevertheless, Wordsworth immediately came to mind when I captured this photo of swaying flowers in the wind. They are cheerful flowers.

“A host, of golden daffodils / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” William Wordsworth, “I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud”

Clearly this patch, although slightly bigger every year, does not stretch to the lake. Here, however, are other clusters in the vicinity.

2. Cranefly orchards (Tipularia discolor) are also coming up in several places in the understory. This native, perennial woodland orchid is interesting for a number of reasons–its odd bumpy leaves, the leaves’ maroon undersides, and their habit of disappearing in the summer. Then in late summer a single stalk will appear with several small flowers that will open sequentially from bottom to top. In the second photo below, last summer’s stalks with their dried flowers can be seen.

3. & 4. For the next entries I have two camellias that live right next to each other but are having very different experiences this winter. First, Camellia japonica ‘Grace Albritton’, has been slow to bloom this year, but her small, delicate pink flowers are beginning to open.

The second, Camellia japonica, ‘Lady Vansittart Sport’, seems to have lost most of her buds, and the ones that remain show serious cold damage. I’ve included a photo from a previous year to show how lovely her flowers can be.

5. Another non-native hit particularly hard by the recent weather is the Japanese Spindletree (Euonymus japonicus). This evergreen shrub has glossy, deep green leaves–or as you can see below, this particular one did have deep green leaves. Many of the leaves have fallen, and those that remain are sickly, brown-yellow. Fresh growth shown in the second photo below, though, gives me some hope for spring recovery.

As recently as 2 January, this shrub had many more leaves, a few fruits, and attracted several, what I think are, hoverflies.

6. Finally, here is my usually dry creek bed flowing with last week’s rain water. Notice the dead and mushy remnants of hellebores and ferns along the shallow banks. Once it is dry enough, I’ll clean up the winter’s leftovers. The hellebores will revive; in fact, they have already started. I hope that the ferns will as well. The single brown stalk running diagonally across the image is an offshoot of an oakleaf hydrangea. It should be fine, although sparse.

There is a considerable amount of cleanup and pruning ahead of me. The tidying will begin when it gets a little drier. The pruning I will try to be patient and cautious with, giving plants like the Japanese spindle a chance to recover. Until then, may we all have the weather our gardens need.

Readers who have other garden tales to tell can find guidelines for joining in on these Saturday postings at the site of The Propagator who initiated this sharing. Also look for links for great garden photos and information from folks around the globe at our current moderator Jim Stephen’s garden ruminations.

5 Replies to “six on Saturday, 4 February 2023”

  1. Daffodils are so rad. They do not naturalize as readily here as they do elsewhere, although they never die where they get water. They used to be a minor cut flower crop behind my Pa’s home in Montara. The last fields were abandoned decades ago, but the daffodils survived in the coastal climate to form bulky mounded rows. They seemed to be wild, but on closer inspection, their rows were still discernible. Weirdly, someone built a new home in the middle of the field of daffodils, and had all the daffodils completely killed! It was so weird! I can not imagine why someone would have such disdain for daffodils. Nor can I understand why someone with such disdain for daffodils would build a home in the middle of a field of daffodil. No one knows how it was possible to completely kill all those daffodils so immediately. None have been seen since.


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