Monday, 25 January 2016

January in Angie's Garden


What a real mixed bag it has been weather wise this January.  The relentless rains continued past New Year with a few sunnier days in between, a light dusting of snow and plummeting temperatures down to minus 5°C last weekend and as we approach the end of the month we are experiencing, what for Scotland, can only be described as a heatwave for this time of the year.  Help ma boab!  A high of 14°C this weekend.

The bird feeder I got from my nieces and nephew at Christmas holds a massive 5kg of seed.  Much to the delight of the goldfinches.  The only place strong enough to support it's weight is the archway.  However, it does make manouvering around the garden a bit awkward.  If I've walloped my head on it once, I've walloped it a hundred times!  You never know it just might knock some sense into to me!

I have been able to get outdoors and do a bit here and there.  Firstly there was the tidying up of the Hellebores.  All bar 4 of my many hellebores are oriental hybrids (Helleborus x hybridus).  Some named varieties and others not.  All are treated the same here in my garden.  Old, often tatty looking, foliage is removed at ground level to expose the new blooms for not only my enjoyment but to help any pollinator that just might be passing. Care needs to be taken not to damage emerging new growth. I would not normally consider doing this job until well into February or even March if it is particularly cold but not this year.  Removing the old foliage is also a good way to help prevent hellebore leaf spot.  I probably should have mulched at this time too but as I had used up all the mulch in autumn I had none to hand. A job for another day in the coming weeks.  Some hellebores are left alone at this time of the year.  The leathery foliage of the H. x ericsmithii are worth growing for their interesting foliage too.  Granted they do look better when not dirty and rain splashed!  You can see in this shot just how sodden the ground was at the beginning of the month.  I have 3 different varieties - this one, H. x ericsmithii Pirouette is the first to flower this year.  I used some old planks to manoeurvre through the borders.  Trying my best not to compact the soil or damage emerging bulbs and plants.  
Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette


You may remember me mentioning last post that the climbing roses over the trellis and arch had not stopped growing and I needed to make an effort to tie in those wayward stems.  It was a real chore. Trying to reach in without sinking or toppling over.  It was not practical to get a plank in there.  Thank goodness the posts are solid, they gave me a bit of support as I used them to support my weight as I leant over. I can't help but wonder if the effort may have been in vain.  At times the area around here just got wetter and wetter.  The rain had now where to go, it was so saturated further up the garden that it just spread outwards and into spots that hadn't been waterlogged before.  The water had not cleared away by the time the temperatures dropped and it all froze over.   Another issue I have found is when it rains heavily or constantly the bottoms of the trellis panels fill with water.  I think I need to drill some sort of drainage holes otherwise, although the timber is treated, I suspect they will rot prematurely if I don't remedy it.  

Squelch squelch!
        
 On the other side of the garden, Buddha covered his eyes, pretending not to notice the quagmire!



I was intent on weeding the side garden, ridding the space of the chickweed that is sprouting up everywhere.  I came across this wee ladybird.  Goodness that was a surprise, I don't often see them in summer never mind winter.  I decided to leave the weeds well alone just in case it had some friends hiding nearby. The seven spot ladybird is our most common species here in the UK.  Did you know we have 46 species of ladybirds here in the UK?  No?  Me neither!   I just hope it managed to get tucked up somewhere before the frosts came.  The weeding remains on my to do list.

My planned embargo on new plants for the garden, you may remember, does not include snowdrops. For the first time ever I ventured online to buy a particular snowdrop.  I had Galanthus reginae olgae, an autumn flowering snowdrop, growing previously but have not seen it since 2013.  I suspect it may have succumb to wet.  Although it is described as hardy, it can apparently struggle in wetter climates, such as mine.  I ordered replacements.  Healthy plants arrived. I purchased 2 bulbs. One for the garden, the other for luck!  I will keep them in a pot until they clump up and I can trial a bulb or two in a drier site than I chose previously.  No blooms, obviously, but healthy foliage nonetheless.  It has a distinctive glaucus strip running through the centre.  

Foliage - Galanthus reginae olgae


Popping to the GC to replenish stocks of soil conditioner, which I use as mulch, I came across a variety of pots full of spring bulbs, although not in the market I could not resist the small pots of species snowdrops, G. ikariae.  At a few pound per pot, how on earth was a girl supposed to resist?  I didn't go overboard. 3 wee pots came home with me.  I could use them as part of a spring display on the back step.  Potted up, they looked kind of bare.  I topped of the bare compost with some moss I gathered from around the garden.  No difficulty in finding moss growing here.  I have never tried this before and I think it looks quite effective.  Having now read up on this particular species of snowdrop, it seems this may be another species that will not appreciate the wetter conditions here so they too will be kept in a pot.


I am attempting to make my own leaf mould this year.  I usually send them off the the council tip.     A large bag was collected in autumn but there was still plenty of leaf litter around the garden.  I raked up what I could and filled yet another bag.  They will be stored round the back of the shed until they can be used.  The RHS recommends storing them for up to 2 years.   Some leaves make better leaf mould than other but since mine's is a mixture of many different species I have no idea how it will work out.  The leaves were dampened down, not that they needed much dampening and holes punctured in the base of the bag with the garden fork.  


A job I had failed to do in Autumn was moving the Buddleja.  It was initially bought to hide the gap in the hedge while the new plants grew and although it was doing a fine job it was in a totally inappropriate spot to do well.  I removed some of the perennial sunflowers, the soil was just perfect to dig.  It made what could have been a difficult job more easy.   Thankfully the Buddleja was quite shallow rooted, it too came out with little effort on my part.  It's now in a more Buddleja friendly site. Full sun, well drained and with plenty of room.  I may be taking a bit of a risk doing it now but providing I keep an eye on watering I am confident it will be ok.

  
In the cold frame the Euphorbia cuttings sent down to me from Frances @ Island Threads are doing well.  My own attempts at taking Euphorbia cuttings have always resulted in failure.  I thought Frances would like to see how well they are doing in my care.  Thank you Frances.

Euphorbia cuttings January 2016
I could hardly do a post about my January Garden without including what's been blooming this month. Enjoying the moisture, these Primula in the side garden have started to bloom.  The silver, almost white, leaf of this particular Cyclamen hederifolium adds some foliar interest too.


The witchhazel, Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena shimmers in the sun.  It started blooming back in November and I worried that it may have peaked too soon.  Apparently not!  It continues to show of in the winter garden.


In the sunny front garden, Iris reticulata Pauline are blooming nice and early this year.  They showed no signs of slowing up when the weather turned cold.  It seems there was no holding Pauline back.

  
By no means perfect but a lovely little glimpse of summer in wintertime.  The climbing Wedgewood Rose on the trellis.


With it's glossy evergreen leaves, shiny black berries and blooms just about to open Sarcacocca confusa ticks all the boxes when it comes to winter interest.

      
Another evergreen, the tight buds on this dwarf Skimmia are just as pretty as the open flowers I think. Full to bursting with springtime promise.


 Galanthus elwesii Mrs MacNamara fully opened her buds in the warmth this weekend.



Galanthus Galatea is clumping up nicely here in my garden.  A single bulb planted back in 2012 has produced quite a few off spring.  Another few warm days should see these buds open.

         

Galanthus Jaquenetta, a full double flowering snowdrop, is almost open.

  
In the front garden a few blooms remain on the winter flowering Jasmine growing against the fence.   I think that by the end of this year it will be tall enough to tie into the trellis that tops the fence.  It's such a pity to have so many blooms and yet no pollinators to enjoy them.  Maybe they are about somewhere and I've just not seen them.


Emerging beneath one of the roses, I misidentified this plant in my previous post.  I thought it was Corydalis solida Beth Evans but now I can see the colour of the blooms and on checking my records it is C. solida Purple Bird.  A nice wee surprise this early in the year.


The Liriope in the front garden was halted by an early frost back in October.  Whilst the blooms failed to open fully, they have remained on the plant to give the appearance that it is blooming.


This coming weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch I will free up an hour on either of the days to take part.  Have you register yet?

One must not and should not forget that it is still very early in the year.  The warmer temperatures could very easily fool us into thinking it is far later in the year than it actually is.  The weather could and will more than likely take a turn for the worse at some point.  Although I pay some attention to the forecasts I do tend to think that they can, at times, over exaggerate.  How many times since the bad winters of 2009/10 have they predicted the worse winter ever!?  I do though tend to err on the side of caution and try not to get too carried away.  There are still some jobs I can be getting on with in February.  I will at some point in February be on top of mulching the Hellebores and Snowdrops.  I have a couple of bags of ericaceous compost so I can get on with mulching the acid loving shrubs. The climbing Leucothoe, although smothered with flower buds, is looking slightly chloritic.  It is usually healthy enough without my interference.  I wonder if that is a side effect of the terribly wet weather.  I will pamper it a bit this year I think.  The group 2 and 3 Clematis will be pruned too. Untangling all that dead growth is one of those jobs I don't particularly like but it needs to get done. Before things get going proper I need to get in early with the supports for the Peonies, Aconitums and the oriental Poppies. Lastly, tidying up the remainder of the perennials weather permitting, that is.

How are things in your garden this January? Are you ahead of the game?  Perhaps things are ticking along just nicely.  I wonder if other UK gardeners finding their gardens are leaps and bounds ahead of previous years.  Have you much planned gardening wise in the coming few weeks?  If you are getting outdoors this week do enjoy it and make the most of it.



41 comments:

  1. Angie, your garden is in bloom as if it's spring time in January! Love your primulas, irises, snowdrops. And of course rose is gorgeous!

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    1. Indeed it is Nadezda. Plants flowering I would not normally see until well into March. It does have me wondering though just how bare the garden will be when it comes around.

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  2. Last week we had some frost but now temperatures are climbing to 12 degr.C. by day, I cannot remember we had such high temperatures before in January. Today I also have been removing tatty foliage from the ground around snowdrops and hellebores but I'm a bit afraid to be too early, it can be very cold in February. We never know..... I noticed that you still know all different varieties of snowdrops in your garden, so clever. I have lots of different snowdrops too, but....I have forgotten the names belonging by each variety, stupid.

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    1. I can't remember either Janneke. It's nice to have it for a change isn't it? I try my best to keep track of the snowdrop names, ask me the same question in a few years time and we shall see if that continues.

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  3. Oh Angie I do hope that your Buddha can uncover his eyes and take a peek round soon. This so called winter has had more of its fair shares of ups and downs weather wise. I removed the old hellebore foliage before Christmas but usually it's a task for after Christmas or early in the new year. Some plants eg irises, pulmonarias are well ahead of themselves whereas the snowdrops in the garden are only just opening. Nauture must be just as confused as us. A dollop or two of leaf mould comes in handy when planting up new snowdrops :)

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    1. It is an odd winter Anna. The only normal thing about it is the rain! Thanks for the tip re the leaf mould for the new snowdrops - I look forward to giving it a go.

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  4. Oh, your poor, waterlogged garden! I hope it dries up soon – but seeing the forecast it might be a while still! I have started doing leaf mould for the first time too, as I now have a shed to place bags behind, never had a shed before. It will be exciting to see what we get after the bags have been stored a couple of years!
    I managed to stay clear of any snowdrop sales this year – I feel I have been very good so far, and I might spend money on some seeds instead as I have so many plants to get in the ground still. But when we get to May or June it would be great if we could do another plant swap if you are interested, I hope to get my new plant list ready by then, got some nice and interesting things since last time we swapped :-)
    My garden is not particularly early, some things are, like emerging lilies in December (!) but most things are just within the normal variations. I am pruning roses right now and hope to get it done by end of the week as the roses are growing like mad, shame to cut off all that growth and new buds but it must be done.
    Hope the wind and the rain Tuesday doesn’t do too much damage, we will feel it down here too I think!

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    1. I am sure most things will recover Helene, well I keep my fingers crossed anyway! Down there in London you are used to these mild winters so I would suspect there would be little difference in your garden. We can compare leaf mould notes in the coming years.
      Always interested in plant swaps - although at the moment I have very few things on the go but as always just let me know if you fancy anything and I can remedy that!
      It's now Tuesday afternoon and things haven't been to bad so far - we shall see what happens later tonight.

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  5. You have so much going on in your garden Angie, it must be so enjoyable to have all those flowers at this time of the year. I've not been out in the garden much this month, and you've prompted me to rug up and go and have a proper look. As someone also with a squelchy garden, I do feel for you. Hopefully you'll get some dry days soon for it to all drain away. The plants seem to be doing well despite the wet. I love those reticulata irises - gorgeous.

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    1. Yes, get those warm clothes on and get out there Julieanne. You might be surprised :)
      I hope your garden dries up too and you experience little damage or loss this year.

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  6. I wondered what was the make of your new bird feeder? Forgive me if I am telling you what you already know but trellis is only dipped in preservative so when you drill through it rain can enter the untreated wood. I usually paint or pour a wood preservative on any drill hole or saw cut I make.

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    1. I have no idea the make - the box is now in the bin Brian but I think it was purchased from Costco. My daughter in law tells me they have the same style but smaller in size still in stock. It's a lovely copper colour. I know not if it's actual copper or an substitute but it's classy looking.
      I hadn't thought about the treating the holes once I had created them. I thank you for pointing that out. I have a small tub of that green stuff somewhere in the shed so will treat them with that.

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  7. Oh my, it seems like springtime or even summer in your garden! The Skimmia are so lovely at this stage--the evergreen leaves and the promising little buds! I'm amazed that you have Jasmine actually blooming now. Wow! My garden is dormant and will be so for at least another month. It's exciting to start thinking about the next growing season!

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    1. This little Skimmia was a real find a few years ago - it has a lovely scent when it blooms, always a bonus having scent here in winter. It's now always warm enough to enjoy it.
      The Jasmine is the winter flowering variety so should be blooming now. It blooms on bare stems - as you can see.
      I can imagine you are getting exiting about the coming growing season - a month is not too long if you say it fast enough :)

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  8. I bump my head into one or another of my bird feeders with some degree of regularity and I regret to inform you that it hasn't had any positive impact on my mental acuity. At least your bird feeder doesn't have a big cage around it to keep the squirrels out (not that most of those work so well). I love that 'Pirouette' hellebore - as well as the Skimma, the Corydalis and just about everything! Although I'm sure it can be miserable dealing with all that soggy soil, I'm envious - we're still woefully short of rain in southern California despite El Nino.

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    1. Drat! Here was me thinking I was going to become incredibly intelligent too Kris.
      No squirrel here, thankfully - although the starlings can be just as pesky - I have ones with cages around them to keep them out.
      A shame El Nino wasn't as sharing with water as you all had hoped.

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  9. And to think I've been having to water my garden...! I actually can't believe how well your plants are looking in all that waterlogged soil. The shrubs are perfectly lovely - especially the skimmia. As for the snowdrops... sigh... ;-) I'm getting some planting done, but also biding my time just trying to learn what my garden does in January. Must also mention your hellebores; I'm not familiar with H. x ericsmithii; are they actually more dainty than the orientalis hybrids, or is it just that luscious appleblossom pink colour that makes me think so...?

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    1. I've had to select many plants that have to cope with this amount of water Amy. I've had my fair share of losses believe me!
      Learning what will do well in your garden will take time and you are doing it the right way round. Unlike myself who jumps in with both feet first then worries about the consequences afterwards.
      The Ericsmithii hybrids are in my opinion far more robust looking that the oriental hybrids. They have thick leather leaves. They are a collaboration of years of Hellebore breeding. They are sterile too - which is of course the reason they are expensive. There are not so many colour variations for sale. I don't know if that's because that's all that is available or just what the stores stock here.

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  10. I have never examined snowdrop foliage closely before, I am usually too busy drooling over the flowers. The foliage of G. reginae olgae is beautiful. Thank you for showing that. A few areas of our garden are waterlogged. I guess they will be more sodden after all the rain which is forecast for today.
    The chickens are always delighted when I bump my head on bird feeders. Raining bird seed is their very favourite weather.

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    1. I can't say I've done much snowdrop foliage examining before either Sarah but I possibly will now. Apparently it helps with identification of some of them.
      I suppose the chickens clear up all the mess the birds and you create around the feeders. Handy that!

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  11. So many lovely little flowers, it's wonderful seeing them all considering you are so far north! Good to see "Pauline" in your garden, she is such a good little bulb! We too are wet everywhere, so wet I can't walk on the lawn, so most of the garden is such a mess still, I'm making sure though that the snowdrop and hellebore beds have been tidied.
    I bought a huge bird feeder, thinking it would save me having to fill it up so often, the birds decided otherwise and invited all their friends to a party, it was costing me a fortune! I now fill it up when we go on holiday, if they eat it all in the first day.....!

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    1. I don't intend to use the feeder year round Pauline. It will come in handy in winter only. Like you I've also found the more you offer the more they'll take. I can get through 25kg of sunflower hearts in a matter of two weeks.
      I hope your garden dries up soon.

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  12. I've been tidying up hellebores too as the foliage was hiding the emergent snowdrops.

    Can you buy one of those poles to house the bird feeder then you will spare your head? I wish our goldfinches would return - not sure what has happened to them as all their favourite food is on offer.

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    1. Those poles are not strong enough Sue. I have one and the weight of the feeder saw it list almost immediately! If I had mature trees in the garden I'm sure they would take the weight. That's something for the future.
      Good on you getting some work done in the garden. I always think that even a little bit of work outdoors keeps away the winter blues.

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  13. Like you, we are having a wet winter in the Piedmont of South Carolina and are just thawing out from the big snow, which was a day of sleet plus 3 inches of the white stuff. My snowdrops came and went in the warm days of early December, so its nice to enjoy yours. The hellebores are not blooming yet, though.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Marian. I hope it dries up with you soon.

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  14. Dear Angie, always nice to read and see what is going on in our garden! I love the Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette, what a beautiful variety. And your snowdrops are such a joy to look at as is Iris reticulata Pauline.
    Here January is a very busy garden month. I am mainly deleaving and pruning roses and I hope to finish that by the end of this month, then they all need to be fertilized. I also bought bare root daylilies that needed potting up and just last weekend dahlia tubers and Oriental Hybrind Lilies, which all need to go into the ground. I am so glad that I got the last two ones, since I wanted to buy them last year, but missed them. So this year, if I take good care of them, I should finally have dahlias and and oriental lilies blooming in my garden! I am looking so much forward to that...
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Now I'm excited about seeing your lilies and daylilies. I hope they manage to settle in without too much of an issue. You've a busy month ahead it seems - enjoy it all the same.

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  15. It must have been and continue to be difficult to stay on top of things with the ups and downs of the weather but the plants don't look the worst for it.

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    1. My garden is reasonably small Alain so keeping on top of things isn't as difficult as I might make it sound and over the past few years I've grown accustomed to gardening in bad weather as well as good.

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  16. Hi Angie, great to see some colour in your garden already. The early flowering Galanthus 'John Grey' is flowering here in the home garden but there is not a sign of colour or life in the exposed and high up nursery. There has been plenty rain though and the stream has been in full spate! But it means we can see where water stands in very wet weather, vital for border planning! I'm hoping to start spring cleaning all the borders soon now that the sales area has been tidied and then there is the fun bit of propagating plants and making new gardens. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Better to find out now where the water lies than later Rona. I hope to get down for a visit in the better weather to see the progress at the nursery. I'll bet it's cold there this weekend.

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  17. Hi Angie, at this time of the year I am grateful for whatever colour can be found and you seem to have a good share, it makes up for the horrible weather, waterlogged gardens and certainly gives me hope for the spring. I have noticed in the past that you are building up a collection of snowdrops so I expect their flowers certainly give you an interest and something to look forward to early in the year.

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    1. Ah, you spotted my soft spot for the snowdrop Rick. I used to be one of those who did not quite understand the differences and complexities but now I am, it seems I can't keep away from them. Anything that brightens up this time of the year is worth making the effort.

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  18. January is always such a dull month and the flooding in combination with the cold is such a challenge for plants (and gardeners!). I keep my fingers crossed for you all! Still there's lots of interest. My Jelena had only one flower this year (planted last year) but looking at yours...well, anticipation is all I can say. Keep your head up, spring is on its way :)

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    1. You won't be disappointed with Jelena as she matures Annette. Mine's is now in it's 3rd year and blooms for ages here.

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  19. I've so had enough of the rain now, yet when I look on the 7 day weather forecast there is absolutely no change. Parts of my garden look just like yours, totally waterlogged. At least the blooms are still battling through!

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  20. Angie girl you are so busy in your garden I am very jealous ! LOL
    Double digits are foretasted for some parts of Ontario as a very rare occurrence but it is supposed to happen sometime in the next week ... but we have much more winter to go through yet UGH!
    I do the same thing with my hellebore as well .. I hate ratty looking leaves .. but timing is sensitive for that here too.
    I love that silver leaf cyclamen ! it really shines in the garden.
    I understand your hesitancy with silver foliage when you don't get enough sun or heat they don't seem to work out well .. I used to be a "spares" planter when I first started gardening .. I didn't know which plants I liked for sure or what suited the situation.
    Then when I knew what I liked I crowded them in .. I love a full look to my gardens and I am still working in that!
    I really love all your Galanthus ! .. I used to have some but they weren't quite up to the job .. so I admire other gardener's ..what a pretty corydalis ! at first I thought it was a bleeding heart plant .. I want to have a blue corydalis so I will be on the look out for that. You did a great job with the moss in the bulb pot ! it looks wonderful .. that is something I would like to do too, the natural look is so pretty : )
    I wish I had room for a witch hazel .. I would love to smell that scent one Spring.
    You can never have enough gorgeous little trees right ?
    Well I better finish this or I will be too chatty ? haha .. good luck with the bird watch !
    Joy : )

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  21. The relentless rain is pretty dire, isn't it, though you seem to have managed to keep busy in the garden anyway. It's all looking good Angie, I love the deep purple of your irises, and the moss pot dressing works well.

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  22. Our bird watch here is in 2 weeks....and what a delight to see all those early flowers who seem to love cold wet weather....we are due for a big melt here.

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  23. Gorgeous, Angie! We're so fortunate to live in climates that allow for such a wealth of winter blooming plants. You have so many lovely blooms right now and I love your Buddha!

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