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December 23, 2010

Salty Washington

Filed under: Travel,Winter — Judy @ 12:08 am

We made a quick trip to Washington for a long weekend last week for our daughter to visit George Washington University for grad school and to see a few of the historic sites. There was just over a foot of snow here when we left,

Snow at home before trip

but that amount quickly dwindled and the landscape was brown and barren with just flashes of snow here and there on the way. A few flakes were drifting down as we approached Washington, but nothing to speak of according to upper New York State standards.

Washington Memorial

Washington Memorial

Unfortunately, Washingtonians apparently thought a ‘snowmageddon’ was approaching because the salt trucks were out in force, spewing megatons of salt over every inch of the highways. In fact, when we awoke the next day, there were piles of salt all over the roads up to three inches deep in places, and thick clouds of salt dust were kicked up over everything and everybody as traffic passed by.

Landscaping note: Snow, by itself, is good for the garden – it adds moisture and, if deep enough, can protect plants from drying winter winds. In fact, both snow and rain can deposit a small amount of nitrogen, sort of a ‘poor man’s fertilizer.’ But adding salt to the equation means damage to plants and the environment, with both direct and indirect effects, and short and long term effects. More information can be found here.

After traipsing around GW, the Metro zipped us to the National Mall and we visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for a lecture, “Fossil Forensics: Investigating How Early Humans Died,” a topic of great interest to a future anthropologist.

Smithsonian - National Museum of Natural History

At the Smithsonian - National Museum of Natural History

What a fabulous place that was! A return visit the next day to see more of it and a very few of the other historic sights only served to whet the appetite to see more. (more…)

December 11, 2010

The snow cometh

Filed under: Containers,Decorating,Our gardens,Winter — Judy @ 1:18 pm

I love snow, don’t get me wrong, but over two feet in the last week on the home turf might be a bit much even for me. This composite cell phone picture looking out the back door was taken before we had another eight inches or so. Isn’t that great?! Reminds me of a Thanksgiving when we got snowed in with four feet and the kids were sliding off the top of the deck railings down the hill!

Composite of snow in yard

We were shoveling three times a day to keep up with it, but actually had to break out the snowblower one morning after another eight inches was dumped overnight. A little too much to handle when you have over 200 feet of driveway to do!

Thought you might like to see a couple of fun topiaries I did for a client this year.

Front door wide view

The spiral obelisks were wound with gold and white frosted beaded garland and white mini-lights, and then topped with a lovely gold ball.

Single topiary - closeup

At the base, I created a wreath of a mix of fabulous greens – blue-green noble fir, microbiota that had turned purple from the cold, blue-berried juniper, yellow arborvitae, feathery white pine, droopy douglas fir, and incense cedar – all intertwined with more white mini-lights.

Wreath of mixed greens

The view at night – spectacular!

Topiaries at night

When the weather outside is bitter cold, and the wind is blowing, I would much rather stay inside by a warm, cozy fire. But when I can get outside, clear those cobwebs from the brain, breathe the fresh air, and maybe play in the snow – life is good!

December 4, 2010

Things past, and things to come

Filed under: Fall,Flowers,Grasses,Our gardens,Winter — Judy @ 11:59 pm

On Tuesday, I finally got a chance to get the last of my own gardens cleaned up and ready for the winter. The lawn received its last mowing, the gardens were “drive-by” mulched, and the grasses and other things that I usually leave for winter interest looked great. That is, until Wednesday when it rained about 5 inches, turned cold, and the snow “cement” arrived. Overnight, the grasses went from beautiful to smushed.

Grasses in fall 09   Grasses in snow cover

And the ‘Autumn joy’ sedums which usually dry and hold up all winter turned into mush.

Sedum with snow hats

But winter weather brings its own beauty. The rose hips glow against the icy blue snow.

Roses hips

The frozen crabapples will provide some delicious food for the birds very soon.

Frozen crabapples

And the butterfly bush still seems to want to beckon those butterflies that have long gone.

Buddleia with snow

The growing season might have ended up here in upstate New York for now, but if you look around you can see signs of what will come in the spring. The big fat buds of the rhododendron,

Icy Rhododendron Bud

the teeny buds of the azaleas,

Azalea buds

the fattening lilac buds,

Lilac buds in fall

and the quince buds are readying themselves to burst forth with color when spring returns.

Quince buds in ice

Remember that new Polemonium ‘Stairway to Heaven’ I told you about in the spring? What beautiful gold yellow fall-into-winter foliage it has! I’m looking forward to seeing its next transformation in the spring.

Polemonium in fall

Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven' in Fall

Polemonium in spring

Polemonium 'Stairway to Heaven' in Spring

One might think that nothing goes on in the garden in the winter, but already there are signs of things to come!

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