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By One Name or the Other

From a pup, I was weaned on a mishmash of common and scientific plant names, and while I can hardly claim proficiency in either, probably I'm less comfortable with the common forms. While others say andromeda, I think Pieris (japonica or floribunda), and when writing, my leash must be yanked a time or two so I don't stray too far from more familiar plant names. I think Edgeworthia chrysantha, but must write paperbush.

Posted: 3/24/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Have a Plan?

There should be no argument. The gardener is advised to have a plan before visiting the garden center, to go in with a list, if not of specifics, at least one that broadly defines his needs. Perhaps it is enough to think "I need a flowering tree" or "a Japanese maple", or "a screening evergreen", and then see what best fills this need when you visit. 

Posted: 3/21/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Chilly Week in March

Following a chilly week in March when temperatures regularly dropped into the teens, damage to flowers and emerging leaves was expected. The gardener's question was, how much damage, and would injury to new leaves do harm as a late freeze stunted mophead hydrangea growth a year ago?

Posted: 3/20/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

March Weather is Variable, For Better and Worse

Though the gardener barks at the chilly breezes, he is aware that weather is variable, particularly in March when there might be temperatures in the seventies and teens, sometimes within the same week. Still, he has been spoiled by the mild temperatures of late winter, and now he pouts over a period of cold.

Posted: 3/16/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Snow in March - What to Do

Note – The following post is copied with minor revisions from March 2013 and January 2016. Both occasions followed significant snow storms of a foot or more, but many of the same principles apply to Monday night and Tuesday’s storm that is expected to drop up to a foot of wet snow. 

Posted: 3/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Before the Storm

With word that more cold is on the way, and probably significant snow, I lingered in the garden to enjoy for a few minutes longer than typical on a chilly afternoon. The past few nights have not been quite as cold as forecast, but still damage to magnolias is evident. A week ago, I felt fortunate that 'Dr. Merrill' and 'Royal Star' are shaded, and delayed in flowering until after nights when temperatures dropped into the teens, but the tardy blooms gained only a few days until the next freeze.

Posted: 3/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Small Collection of Early Flowering Magnolias

Jane magnolia - early AprilA swath of forest borders the southern property line so that tall maples and tulip poplars shade much of the garden through the winter, until the sun takes a more northerly route to bring much of the rear garden into afternoon sunlight by mid spring. The winter shade is not dense, filtered through deciduous trees, but it is enough to delay flowering of magnolias by a week or longer than ones just up the street. 


Posted: 3/10/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Freeze Damage to Flowers, Cherries, and Dogwoods?

Last evening, a local television weather person lamented the demise of cherry and dogwood flowers in the recent freeze, while cautioning that more of the same cold was on tap for later in the week. Clearly, she was not a gardener, for the damaged blooms were cherries and magnolias, not dogwoods. 

Posted: 3/9/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Minimal Damage from the Freeze

Flowers of Winter daphne opened in seventy degree temperatures a week ago. Now, many flowers have been injured after 19 and 16 degree nights.

With a swing in temperature from seventy-five to sixteen within a week, the gardener is not surprised that some damage is done to late winter blooms. There is relief that injury to flowers and to newly emerging leaves is minimal in this garden, that probably fared better than others since magnolias and camellias that are most vulnerable to cold damage were delayed by shade, with many flowers not fully opened.

Posted: 3/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

The End of Cold Winters, Forever


In this unusually mild winter, and a particularly warm February, it is unsurprising for gardeners to pronounce the end of cold winters forever, all due, of course, to the warming of the planet. Certainly, I cannot recite numbers to document temperatures changes, but from a gardener's prospective I can confirm exceptionally mild winters in four of six years. 

Posted: 3/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Expect the Worst?

The tree lilac beginning to break into leaf. It is likely that this will slow down with cooler temperatures, and I expect no damage.

Happily, I report no damage from the first cold night following the recent extended period of late February warmth. While a day or two of mild temperatures is not unusual for this period, repeated days in the sixties and seventies are not typical, with the result that many trees and shrubs are flowering (or beginning to flower) earlier than usual.

Posted: 2/27/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Winter's On It's Way Out


I suspect that I am not the only gardener who has gotten a jump on his spring cleanup. In a more typical winter, with only a few spells of warmth I am likely to waste the days in less productive pursuits, and this was true until a few weeks ago. Now, the early weeks of spring must not be consumed by endless labor, though in this one acre garden there is never a lack of chores that must be accomplished.

Posted: 2/24/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Winter Winds Down

many hellebores began flowering in late January, which is only slightly early in this garden.

As this mild winter winds into March (the Virginia gardeners' spring), I do not question for a moment the small effort required to plant a winter garden. Without flowers of hellebores, Winter jasmine, and witch hazels, winter would seem interminable.

Posted: 2/21/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Every plant has its place

Winter jasmine

Certainly, every plant has its place. It is unfortunate that too often the gardener discovers one thing or the other that is planted where it doesn't belong. A plant is too close to the house or walk, in too much or too little sun, or where its unruly habit detracts. With this experience, the gardener must then decide to move the offending plant, chop it out if it has grown too large, or live with it.

Posted: 2/16/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Late winter cleanup


Though temperatures this afternoon did not warm as much as anticipated, I was delighted to get out to begin a bit of late winter clean up. Finally, the inactivity of winter caught up to me, so I was anxious to get out into the garden, even as light rain showers passed through.

Posted: 2/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Glimpse of Spring Flowers

Winter Sun mahonia

Probably, most gardeners are anxious for spring soon after the first hard freeze of autumn, and each day of winter that follows is counted down until the first warm afternoon of March. The Virginia winter is rarely severe, and short by comparison to many other parts of this country.

Posted: 2/9/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Halfway to spring


While leisurely strolling through the garden on a warm early February afternoon, I noted the appearance of allium and narcissus foliage, which is unsurprising with the mild temperatures of the past few weeks, and not anything to be concerned about.

Posted: 2/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Diane and Jelena

Diane witch hazel

In this first week of February, 'Diane' and 'Jelena' witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) are beginning to flower, and again I realize that I did not plant another 'Arnold Promise,' as claimed, to replace an old timer lost a few years ago to ever increasing dampness along the southern border of the lower rear garden.

Posted: 2/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Final Conclusions

This very unscientific research, based entirely upon casual observation, is concluding nicely, and perhaps the last phase to measure the reaction of squirrels to being shot in the hindquarters by BB's will not be necessary.

Posted: 1/30/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

No snow, thankfully

Today, no snow, thankfully. A year ago, I was still digging out from thirty-two inches, with four feet drifted against the garage door, thinking I'm too old for this, but thankful that I finally broke down and bought a small snow blower, it didn't seem possible that the small electric gadget could move this much snow, but it did, thanks in part to a much shorter driveway than others in the neighborhood.

Posted: 1/26/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)
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