Translate

Friday, January 3, 2014

The 2013 garden - a look back

Another gardening year is over! I really love the winter months and like to take this time to look back at photos of the garden from the previous year. It really does re-charge the batteries and renew enthusiasm for the garden. For me, the change of seasons and winter downtime is essential. I don't think I'd be happy in southern California or Florida where the weather stays the same all the time. I like change, get bored easily, and the transition of the seasons is just enough to keep me interested.

Winters here in northwest Alabama are relatively brief (2-3 months) and usually mild. The 2013-2014 winter is looking to be colder with single digits predicted next week. I don't think we had single digits last winter. This can be good - perhaps it will kill some of those dreaded mosquitoes.

By the time late February rolls around, the gray skies start lending themselves over to a sunnier, crisp, crystal blue. Buds on trees and shrubs begin to swell and you can feel spring right around the corner. One of the first trees to bloom in our garden is Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana "Rustic Rubra"). The tree is located along the circular drive-way behind our house and at an optimal spot. A narrow planting strip resides under a line of huge hackberry trees whose roots clutter and dry up the ground. Not a good place to garden but I learned that camellias, oakleaf hydrangeas and small trees like this one do well. Massives of daffodils, kerria japonica and late camellias make this spot a colorful one in March.

 

Despite the blooms, the garden still looks a bit stark in March with the absence of leaves and greenery.  Evergreens, like the spectacular Armand's Clematis (below) help remedy that problem. It took 3 years for this somewhat persnickety vine to get established but it has been well worth the wait. Blooms started appearing in early March last year and it continued to bloom until late April. This is an attractive vine even when not in bloom.



April brings warmer temperatures and spring showers and the garden really begins to take off. Things start popping up all over - bulbs, like Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) (below), tulips and daffodils carpet the ground with color. Newly developed leaves on plants project a vivid green that is quite spectacular after a rain shower. It is truly a tremendous time to be alive and enjoy the garden but April also is a busy month and the list of things to do is unrelenting. Fertilizing, planting, mowing, etc. etc. and as soon as the threat of frost is over, it is time to plant pots with annuals and get the vegetables planted.





Another sure sign of spring is the white wisteria that blooms in the "secret garden". The vine always sneaks up on me and seems to bloom overnight. I usually notice it from the opposite side of the garden wall where is rises above it. You can often smell it before you see it!


  
As lovely as April is, the peak time for our garden in is May. That is when the roses are blooming and the garden is like a fairyland. In late May, the hydrangeas begin blooming (we have about 50 varieties) and later the Oakleaf hydrangeas remain in bloom throughout the remainder of the garden year.

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

As the heat of summer increases, the blooms take a back seat and the garden becomes a study in greens. 2013 was a good year in that we had plenty of rain. Drought years are especially hard on both the garden and me.

 
The heat of summer often lasts well into October but signs of autumn begin to creep in. Sometimes the fiery hues of fall don't show up until November (as was the case this year) and when it happens, it seems to take place virtually overnight. I love the fall season in the garden. The Japanese maples, oakleaf hydrangeas, and other colorful shrubs provide a kaleidoscope of vivid colors. Long colorful autumns are nice but sometimes an early frost ends the show. Winter settles in and the garden goes into a deep sleep. Another year has ended, a new one begins!





Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Share/Bookmark

22 comments:

  1. I want to see this garden before you move to the country.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Phillip, that was a beautiful review of the garden year 2013. Your yard seems to be stunning no matter what the season is. I especially love the photo with the Armand's Clematis on the white arbor. So romantic with the lantern on! Wishing you a Happy New Year, hopefully it will be a good one for the garden as well!
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
  3. This review has been such a treat what with this winter being such a horrid beast. Seeing all of these blooms makes my gardening heart soar. Gives me all sorts of inspiration. Happy New Year. Big Hugs to you and Michael.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stunning photos! We miss you and your garden!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Phillip, Your garden inspires me to work harder at mine - as small as mine is! I hope to see your garden in person someday too. Thanks for your lovely blog.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Phillip, you have created a literal paradise on earth! How many acres do you have? I love all of the climbers and shrubs - that wisteria is amazing. Thank you, I really enjoyed this retrospective of your garden through the year. I hope 2014 is just as beautiful for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gorgeous!! Big case of yard envy here :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Phillip,
    Absolutely beautiful in every season! I especially enjoyed your written journal of your 2013 garden.
    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Philip… your garden is just plain classy…. it has elements that are very rare in many of the gardens we view in blogland… definitely high end in terms of having that special sense about it that is really exciting to witness. I really don't know how to describe what I mean, but I do think it rates very highly amongst any of the many gardens I have experienced through these past 40+ years.

    I had high hopes that the buds on my Rustica Rubra might come through the winter after having froze each season since planting. With an expected drop of 57 degrees between now and over night tomorrow, I fear disappointment may once again come a knocking. At -25 degrees, this will be the coldest we've had it in many years and it will be interesting to see what survives come spring as I have been pushing the hardiness limits quite a bit these past few years.

    Thanks for sharing your gorgeous gardens… Larry

    ReplyDelete
  10. My goodness Phillip, you really do have a fairyland garden. Well done, well done!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Les, you are welcome any time!

    Spurge, actually only 3/4 acre.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Philip I *so* wish I could pin your pictures to my inspiration page. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single picture is spectacular, and I'm adding so many more pictures to my wish list. Thanks so much for sharing them!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Jen, thank you! I have a Pinterest page where you can find most of my images. It is located at http://www.pinterest.com/williamphillipo/our-garden/

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can never get over your Rambling Rector rose, and I love the way you grow Veilchenblau up on an arbor. It looks so graceful that way.

    Beautiful review of the year!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your garden is simply stunning. I was just staring and sighing as I scrolled through the beautiful pictures. Thanks for the fabulous tour. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  16. You're in my Blogger Spotlight! Check it out! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I want to get out and garden NOW after seeing your photos! A lovely garden, packed with beautiful plants. Love your white wisteria, the hydrangeas, the Clematis Armandii... I have managed to kill of 3 Cl. Almandii, as I just can't protect them well enough here in the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sigh... spring will be here before we know it, right? I'm proud of myself - 2013 was the year I finally figured out how to squirrel proof a bird feeder, and so I actually got some great photos of my own to show off. Mainly birds, of course! Happy 2014, looking forward to lots more garden pics.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Phillip, your garden is inspirational in all seasons, as is your photography. Keep on inspiring us!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for a fantastic review of your breathtaking garden. Clematis armandii is persnickety, indeed. Mine died after one year. I loved the pic of the kitty whose blue eyes matched the pot!

    ReplyDelete