Ok, now–this is getting a little old. Technically, it’s not even winter yet, but we’ve already had an entire winter’s worth of wicked weather. It’s one thing to get ice, sleet, and snow in February and March, because spring is near, but right now, spring seems a mighty long way away. Still, our neighborhood can be grateful to have survived the worst of the recent wild weather with relatively minimal damage.
In my garden, the trees are mostly less than head-high, so I don’t have to worry about broken branches. However, at my parents’ farm, which adjoins my place, their house is surrounded by large silver maples (Acer saccharinum), and ice plus wind is a dangerous combination. (Silver maples may have their place somewhere, but it’s not anywhere near a house! Besides dropping branches everywhere, they produce what appear to be millions of seeds, and the practically 100-percent germination makes for a weeding nightmare in gardens.) When Mom and I went for our afternoon walk yesterday, trying to navigate around the fallen limbs and shattered ice chunks was a challenge. Above, Mom checks out a silver-maple branch that fortunately fell neatly between the stable and her vegetable garden, causing virtually no damage. At left, my poor round-lobed sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’) split drastically. It was only 2 feet tall when I planted it at the farm in 1992, and it was finally starting to look really good. Oh, well. It still has one leader left, and maybe this unplanned pruning will help develop a stronger framework for the future.
Other plants nearby were unscathed, fortunately; above is tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum). Back at my place, the multiple layers of ice have flattened many of the herbaceous plants, but there’s still some structure of interest. Below, Stipa tenuissima in front of the yellow twigs of Cornus ‘Silver and Gold’.
Above left, the path to the barn—essentially impassable, so now I have to take a slightly longer route. (I’ve tried to explain to my alpacas that they really don’t require fresh buckets of warm water multiple times a day, but they think differently, and that makes it two against one. So, I spend a lot of time schlepping warm water out and ice back in.) At right above, contorted hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’). What a fantastic plant for the winter garden, with those twisted green stems and wicked spines.
Well, that’s enough of almost-winter in Pennsylvania. When being outdoors is unpleasant or even downright dangerous, catching up with everyone else’s garden blogs is a great way to pass the time. As many of you know, trying to keep up just with your favorites can easily become a full-time (though sadly, non-paying) job. Still, it’s fun to run across new bloggers, so if you have a few extra minutes, why not stop by and give a warm welcome to these newer members of the garden-blogging community?
Welcome to you all; we’re glad to have you around! Any other new garden bloggers out there who’d like to say hi?
In a totally unrelated note, I’m guessing that many of you also received your 2008 Bluestone Perennials catalog today. Their plants are terrific, and they’ve been great to do business with, but I must say that their description of Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull’ really threw me for a loop: “Although we like the idea of rock stars as gardeners, this cheery tickseed was probably named for the famed English agricultural pioneer of the same name (b. 1674).” Um, hello? Jethro Tull = Ian Anderson = flute. The plant has fluted petals. The connection seems obvious. I’m all for promoting agronomists, but I’m guessing that the original Mr. Tull is not who the folks at Itsaul Plants had in mind when they named this plant. I could be wrong, though.