It’s been relatively warm in southeast Ontario this past week, just a bit of snow, some freezing rain, but quite grey. Today’s photos were actually taken last weekend – trust me, the view has not substantially changed! I’ve been moaning to everyone in earshot about how grey and brown the landscape is (and even made the trek to Toronto’s Allan Gardens Conservatory to bask in its colourful holiday floral show) when really, I should have been spending time discovering new, perhaps small, pleasures, in my own backyard. Colourful or not. So here are a few.
#1 – I posted a photo of this tall ornamental grass growing in front of a white spruce several weeks ago (here it is); it’s still there but now and, I suspect, more so as the weeks progress, the seed heads on the grass are fluffier and, for me, more interesting. Even (especially?) in black and white.
#2 – Staying in a black and white ‘frame’ of mind, I love the patterns created by some perennials when their stalks or leaves collapse in the fall/winter. Especially after they’ve been compressed by a snow or ice fall. Here, the huge leaves of a large Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) are splayed in a weird pinwheel pattern. Looks like roadkill, doesn’t it?
#3 – Here’s another plant that’s kind of pathetic looking this time of year – King Tut Egyptian papyrus – Cyperus papyrus King Tut®. It’s an annual up here and I like to keep the dead stalks up all winter. In the spring they’re really easy to break apart and use as a mulch in the garden. I also really like the nice golden brown they become after frost hits,
#4 – Also a lovely golden brown are the freshly cut ends of these log pieces a neighbour kindly donated to our wood pile. These will age over the next year and I hope to hone my lumberjack skills by chopping them into fireplace size next summer. I already have the red plaid shirt. Ha!
#5 – From golden brown to golden yellow, with a fair amount of grey around the face…here’s Shileau sniffing around the front yard. She’s officially elderly now, and arthritis prevents her from following me around too much as I putter throughout the property. I love how she’s framed by the fuzzy Staghorn Sumac branches in this photo, especially the curlicue one that a few months ago was covered in red flowers. You can see her shadow so yes, we did indeed have a bit of sunshine last Sunday!
#6 – This photo got 50 ‘Likes’ on my Instagram account (@CountyGardening) this week! Woo Hoo!! It’s from a clump of Siberian Iris I left standing. I love how tough the flower stalks are and how the seed heads split open at the top – keeping the tiny seeds in place until a bird knocks them out, eats them and delivers them, via poop I guess, all over the garden. I imagine there’s loads of insects over-wintering in the messy mass of dead foliage at the base. And that’s a good thing!
And that’s it! Six non-colourful things in my garden that, when you stop and take a moment to look, can be appreciated for their structure, pattern, shape, usefulness and general all round interest. Even on this Saturday, less than a week from the official start of winter.
For more Sixes from around the world, including some places where there is abundant sunshine and enough blooms to satisfy anyone, visit The Propagator’s site .