Hellebore Time

StandDbl

Under the oaks and pines

A plant grows mighty fine.

Evergreen, shades of pink, burgundy or lime

Blooming ever so sublime

Hurray—It’s Hellebore time!

My friend Kathy's yellow Hellebore peaking through the snow.

My friend Kathy’s yellow Hellebore peaking through the snow.

Imagine, seeing this hopeful sign of spring—just out your window as winter’s wrath has driven you to wit’s end—peaking through the bareness of the last snow.

Or being able to cut and bring a variety of fascinating blooms inside…

BowlWhts

Having many forms—singles, semi-doubles, doubles, anemone-centered—and colors—it is easy to see why there are passionate breeders and collectors of this winter bloomer.

BowlBurg

Hellebores can be successfully grown in shade, but I have some also in sun;  They are drought tolerant and even the deer won’t nibble!   What is not to like?

ThreeVase2 

They can be cut for arrangements or floated in bowls indoor, or outside, to bring cheer in late winter and delight with hope of spring to come.

Stop by a good nursery and ask for them…  They grow in Zones 4-9.

Having Cabin Fever?   Saturday March 8,  is the last day of Hellebore Festival at Pine Knot Farms in Clarksville, Virginia… the weather is expected to be sunny and high 50’s… so go if you  are anywhere near by!   I have met folks from DC, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina… all beaming with joy for making the journey, wagons filled with Hellebores, hardy Primrose, Hepatica – just to name a few things!

Entrance to Dick and Judy's Garden... Pine Knot Farms.

Entrance to Dick and Judy’s Garden… Pine Knot Farms.

Judith Knot Tyler and her Husband Dick have customers in 49 of the 50 states and will gladly ship!

Magical gardens to meander around their hand-built home.   Plenty of Hellebores and other woodland garden plants for sale.

More next week with tips from Judy Knot Tyler of Pine Knot Farms on tips for propagation and care.

Judith Knott and Dick Tyler
Pine Knot Farms
www.pineknotfarms.com
434-252-1990
434-252-0768 fax

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Object of Desire: Prunus mume

It was 2000—the beginning of my garden journey—I attended a Master Garden Conference and one of the many speakers, was showing photos of beautiful woodies—trees and shrubs.

Since I had been a Midwestern and Northeastern ‘City Gal” up until then—I was mesmerized by all the diversity of plants one could choose from.   

Three stars, feverish plant notes scribbled in darkness in the margins of the slide list the speaker had prepared —so began a quest for the Object of Desire: Prunus mume ‘Kobai’ —a semi-double, deep red-pink color. Blooms in the Winter Garden.  Jan-March.

One of the interesting things the speaker noted was that Prunus mume or Japanese flowering apricot, was one of the plants that uses vernalization—Latin “of the spring.” 

Prunus mume 'Kobai'

Prunus mume ‘Kobai’
Entwined Gardens viewed from above.

In the southern garden—meaning it holds its ability to flower until after a certain exposure to cold, number of weeks of growth, or other seasonal clues before flowering—who wouldn’t want this smart beautiful small tree in their garden!

My friend Gayle was sitting next to me and we made a pack to scour local North Carolina nurseries for ‘Kobai’.  

Months later, on a repeat visit to a nursery, the object of desire was spotted! Feverish phone calls made and plants put “on hold” until we could arrange transport.

A small tree–growing 15–20 ft–‘Kobai’ normally bursts forth with enticing clove scent and deep magenta blooms, the second week of January.   It gives hope in the garden, when all is snowy in rare years, or brown in most years.  

 It lures me outside to basque in the scent – purifying and uplifting body and soul, just as the Feudal Lords would create and share their gardens with the  warriors, workers, writers or artists–after battles or work–a place to go to relax and cleanse thru sight and scent. 

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The world famous Kairaku-en Garden in Japan, boasts 3,000 specimens including 100 different cultivars of Prunus mume.

For centuries, the Prunus mume has inspired traditional East Asian art and poetry.  The famous Japaneses Kairaku-en Gardens were created with just that purpose in mind.  I can hardly imagine being transported with the overwhelming scent of 3,000 specimens, knowing the power of just one at Entwined Gardens!

‘Kobai’ is so memorable that every summer, since it got a little too big for it’s britches–all leafed out blocking the lake view–we contemplate elimination or heavy pruning–but then the visceral always dissuades the logic and it stays as is.

This year with the strange weather, I thought for sure the buds had been nipped in the single digit icy weather.   I was glad for the snow and ice–well for few days–but missed my favorite object of desire.  

Last week the glorious show began, a good 5 weeks later than anticipated;  I cut a few stems and brought them inside which filled the house with the anticipation of spring.

Stem

I remembered to call my friend Gayle, the talk, and grateful I am that my object of desire lures me out of my comfort zone in front of the fire–to the garden everyday–no matter how cold–to be refreshed and inspired by my smart beautiful tree; knowing that my long ago quest was well worth the effort.

 “Few plants are as closely associated with the JC Raulston Arboretum as the Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume.   J. C. Raulston widely promoted this winter flowering tree as a valuable addition to the southern landscape. It flowers from late December to early March depending on selection and brightens the winter garden with white to deep red-pink flowers and a delightfully spicy clove scent that warms even the coldest day.”

JC Raulston Arboretum
Department of Horticultural Science

Note:  the above link to the JC Raulston Arboretum provides a list of the Prunus Mume on display at the Arboretum.

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Hunkering down for winter and Elephant trumpets…

The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging…   colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green.  Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.

Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F.,  we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.

The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot  and drag into shelter for the winter,  have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.

The Korean Mums  by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators.  I notice that these two insects  have the same  striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.

  DaisiesDendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum

Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend.  The Dendranthema –  a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000,  a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!

Hence my Motto:

“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”

Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares  and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.

I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster),  put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest.     Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen  –  stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina!  Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!

Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions.    And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle,  it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!

Nearby I reflect on a  stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’  which will stay in the ground.  Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10,  it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.

To date,  in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!

ThaiGiant

I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.

I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags.   Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing.  How sweet was that!

Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes,  must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight.  I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags.   I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders.  I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic.  I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!

Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway…   I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option.  I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.

Dazed, my short arms straining,  I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real  elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy…  and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts.  This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”

Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!

My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand…   I was one with them,  I was not letting go –  and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up?   I wanted to weep.

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as  I struggled comically down the driveway.  I would take a few steps,  teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.

I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.

The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.

What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act  that ensued!

Focus.  Rest.  Sip  some water.  Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some  miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home.  I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.

That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!

There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden.    This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other.    In my mind I hear the sounds of  loud (click listen and hit back button to return)  Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view.  OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!

So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that  it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.

A last peek behind its big top ears  finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.

ThaiFrogDid you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea

converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?

Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return)  song of the tree frog.

A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’,  also dragged from Helen’s Haven,   spent the winter inside the barn last winter.   It emerged at a reasonable time last spring.  I  planted it out, but  it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches!   Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.

Tiny EarsI laugh at these tiny leaves…    “That’s IT???  That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”

I am delighted none the less.

Thanks,  Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.

Helen’s new tome is available for preorder:   Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden

Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Grady Garden – A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat…

Under the high shade of these tall pines, is the relaxing garden of Pat & Perry Grady.

I love to visit a garden and  sit  in the chairs or benches along the way… to pause and take in the views.   There is usually a reason a bench or chair has been placed in a particular spot… if for no other reason than to just contemplate what goes into a garden, or an EntwinedLife.

The Grady Garden has many charming places to sit, if only for just a minute or two… to notice the rather steep grade, listen to birds, then quiet; enjoy the majesty of the tall trees – the rustle of wind, juxtaposed to the interesting textures on the ground.  Then the eye catches a glimpse of color off in the distance  which beckons on to explore the next visual delight to explore.  A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat  high above the stress of the hectic world.

Grady lng view yellBut don’t be fooled… from my observations this is a tough challenging location… the shade, the heavy mesh of tree roots unseen which will greedily suck up the water needed to establish any new plant additions… let alone the fortitude and strength it takes be able to dig a hole though the tangle, worthy for any new plant addition! (especially at today’s dear prices) and hope for its survival.  Another challenge is defining paths  – there is quite an elevation change both front and back,  and the constant maintenance to tidy the leaves and pine needles before  the signs are put up and visitors welcomed  – is a task of patience only Zen Master gardener will rise above. Yet, this all looks so easy woven together.

We honor you dear gardeners for sharing your private spaces with us!

Pat, how long have you been gardening at this location?

29 years

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

Added shrubs and took out a few trees

Do you collect plants and if so what?

Anything for shade

Any favorite garden tools?

Rake

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

About 6 hours a day

What is your mulch preference?

Pine bark and pine straw

Anything new added to your garden?

Arbor in back yard

What is your first memory in a garden?

Living on the farm and having a row of zinnias and gladioli planted in my mom’s vegetable garden

What is it that got you started gardening?

Being outside

Grady Chair

Where do you go for inspiration?

Just take a walk in garden and visit other gardens

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

J C Raulston Arboretum

 Do you have a favorite Garden Magazine?

Carolina Gardner

 Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

Ann Clapp

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden

Front porch

 If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

More gardens and paths

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share? 

Just work and enjoy

Grady Birdhouse benchPat & Perry Grady look forward to seeing you during ‘Open Days Tour’…  You’re more than welcome to try out all the chairs and benches and relax.

DSC00767Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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