Six on Saturday #19, January 20, 2018: Monochrome edition

The meteorologists predicted that we would get one or two inches of snow this week.  Instead, the storm dumped  12” (30 cm), about three times the average annual snowfall for our part of North Carolina.

These are all color images, but the snow and pale sky seem to have completely desaturated the garden and woods.

1. Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar)


2. Edgeworthia chrysantha (paperbush)


3.  Bird bath

bird bath

4. Young Pinus taeda (loblolly pines)


5.  Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ (contorted trifoliate orange)


6.  woodland trees

Ilex opaca (American holly) at center and far right. Also, Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood) with typically sloping trunks are leaning against other trees.

Visit The Propagator’s latest post (and the comments therein) to see the more colorful Six on Saturday photos of other garden bloggers.



Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese windmill palm).  The 10 F (-12 C) forecast for Saturday night will probably be close to the minimum temperature tolerance for this species.

I shouldn’t complain when friends in Wisconsin are “enjoying” -14 F (-25.5 C), but the past week has been cold for North Carolina.  The days have hovered right around or just below the freezing mark, and nights have dropped as low as 11 F (-11.5 C).  We have several more cold days in store, with low temps on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10 to 13 F (-10.5 to -12 C).  These temperatures aren’t unusual for a North Carolina winter, but usually they are short lived, and generally the lowest temperatures are accompanied by an insulating layer of snow.  It is quite unusual for weather this cold to persist this long when the ground is bare (we finally had a little snow last night).  Consequently, the ground has almost certainly frozen deeper than it has for years.

During the past few years, when winters were mild, it has been tempting try various tropical and subtropical plants outside in the garden.  Come spring, it will be interesting to see how many of those plants, mostly South African and South American, have survived.

Six on Saturday #16, November 4, 2017

Oddly, I actually have more blooming in the garden today than I did for last week’s Six on Saturday.  In fact, I had to pick and choose, and eventually decided to leave Moraea polystachya for another time.

Yesterday’s high temperature was 81 F (27 C).  We still have not had frost, although the long term forecast hints at lows in the mid 30s by the end of the week.  After that, we could easily bounce back into the 70s or low 80s–or have a hard freeze.  Autumn in North Carolina.

Anyway, on to the Six:

1. Scilla madeirensis (Giant Madeira squill)


Scilla madeirensis, as its name suggests, is native to the island of Maderia in the Atlantic Ocean.  The large, dark purple bulbs grow exposed at the surface, so it makes an interesting display even when dormant.  I grow three bulbs in a large terracotta pot.  They bake in the greenhouse over the summer and start growing as the weather cools off in October.  I keep them growing outdoors as long as possible and move them back into the greenhouse only when frost is certain.  I can’t claim to have mastered this species.  This year, only one of the bulbs flowered, and it has fewer flowers than last year.  Also, the pedicels are almost the same color as the flowers this year.  Usually, they are stark white which contrasts very nicely with the bluish purple flowers

Until a few years ago, S. madeirensis was almost impossible to obtain and very expensive when available.  Now, however, bulbs grown in vast numbers in Israel are available every autumn from mail-order bulb vendors.

2. Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’


My only camellia.  I really ought to put in some more under the trees, because camellias do so well in North Carolina.  Older gardens around here are often full of them, and with a mix of sasanqua and japonica types, one can have flowers for much of the winter.

3.  Fatsia japonica


For many years, I had Fatsia japonica mentally filed under “Evergreen Shrub, subtype: boring.”  Then, I saw one in bloom at J.C. Raulston Arboretum and was amazed by the spherical flowers that look like some sort of miniature naval mine.  So, now I have one in my garden.  The leaves are still boring, but the flowers are cool.  Wasps love them too.

4-6. autumn foliage

Last week, I photographed trees that are growing naturally on our property, so for this week, here are some of the woody shrubs and trees that I have planted.

Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’ (witch alder)

One of my favorite shrubs for its licorice-scented spring flowers, pest-free foliage, and spectacular autumn color.  I have planted a row along the path leading to our front door and another row in front of the greenhouse.

Diospyros kaki ‘Fuyu’ (Japanese persimmon)

‘Fuyu’ only gave us two persimmons this year, but the autumn color is spectacular–almost fluorescent.

Asimina triloba (pawpaw)

A. triloba is a piedmont native, but the trees in my garden I grew from seed.  This is a ten-year-old seedling.  2017 was the first year I had two different clones blooming at the same time, but the tiny pawpaws fell off after a few weeks.  I’m hopeful that 2018 will be the year I finally get some fruit.

That’s all for this week.  As always, head on over to The Propagator to see his Six and those of other participating blogs.

Six on Saturday #15

Another Saturday, another six things from the garden.  Autumn has not been particularly impressive thus far.  I think the very dry weather in August and September has caused some trees to drop their leaves prematurely , while others are still green.  Only one plant out in the garden has started blooming this week, so I’ll begin with it:

1. Salvia regla (Mountain Sage)


Salvia regla is primarily a Mexican species, although its range extends just north of the Rio Grande into west Texas.  In my garden it is marginally hardy, dying to the ground each winter and sprouting new growth fairly late in the spring.  Perhaps that’s why it starts flowering exceptionally late in the year.  The orange-red flowers are quite large (for a sage), but they come too late to attract hummingbirds which have already flown south for the winter.

2-6.  Autumn trees

The remaining photos this week are trees in their autumn finery.  I chose to photograph only trees that are growing naturally on our property.  Perhaps the foliage of  trees and shrubs that I have planted can be a subject for another day.

hickory and vulture
Carya sp. (hickory).

I think these are Carya glabra, pignut hickory, but I’m not very good at identifying hickories other than the shagbarks.  Can you spot the turkey vulture soaring high above?

Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
red maple
Acer rubrum (red maple)

That’s all for this Saturday.  As always, head over to the Propagator’s blog to see his Six and check the comments there for links to other participants.

Six on Saturday #13: Montrose Garden

Montrose Garden is a beautiful private garden, the life’s work of Nancy Goodwin, in Hillsborough North Carolina (see also this old New York Times story).  Once or twice a year, Nancy opens the garden and has a plant sale.  The open house was today, so the kids and I were there just after the gate opened at 10:00.

Our first stop was, of course, the sales area.  The children helped to pick out plants, and we came away with Calanthe discolor, Kniphophia ‘Lola’, Orostachys erubescens, Orostachys japonica, and a couple of white-flowered Cyclamen hederifolium. Then, we went to see the gardens.

Last year at the open house, the flowerbeds were filled with colchicum flowers.  We didn’t see many today, and I wonder if the lack of rain over the past six weeks has delayed their flowering.  The soil seemed very hard and dry in the flowerbeds, but there was still plenty of color from drought tolerant plants.

1. In the Metasequoia Garden

Metasequoia garden

During the 1980s, Nancy Goodwin ran a mail-order nursery out of Montrose.  The Montrose Nursery was known for its garden propagated hardy cyclamens at a time when many nurseries were still selling wild-collected tubers, and Nancy has planted huge drifts of Cyclamen hederifolium and other species on the wooded slopes leading down to the Eno River.  Sadly, the woods were closed today, but there were still plenty of cyclamens to be seen elsewhere in the garden.  Here, they are flowering with Sterbergia lutea (autumn daffodil) under two large Metasequoia glyptostroboides (dawn redwoods).

2. Looking towards the lath house


On the right, Eldest Offspring is trying to photograph a monarch butterfly.

3.  Monarch butterfly on red Dahlia (photo by Eldest Offspring)


4.  Incarvillea arguta (Himalayan gloxinia)


5.  Cuphea llavea (Bat-faced cuphea)


I suspect this one is moved into the greenhouse in cold weather.  I don’t think it would survive our winter in the ground.

6. Magnolia macrophylla (big leaf magnolia)


With its perfectly domed shape, this is one of the best M. macrophylla I have ever seen

While I go outside and try to decide where this morning’s purchases should be planted (and whether I’ll need a pickaxe to get through the desiccated clay), why don’t you visit some other garden blogs participating in “Six on Saturday.”  Check out The Propagator for his six and for links to other blogs.

(Hoping for rain this week)