Six-On-Saturday – still winter!

Joining in the fun with six things in my garden today, with thanks to The Propagator for this witty idea!  Most contributors to this theme are showing images of spring — here in my part of Canada it’s still winter.  It was -14 Celsius overnight, although much of the snow may well be gone next weekend as the experts are calling for a lot of rain and highs almost double digits in the coming days.

Amaryllis February 17 2018

Indoors first – this Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) was given to me about seven years ago and it keeps coming back.  I let it sit on the southeast facing porch all summer, then stop watering and bring it in to a dark room and let it go dormant for a few months before starting to water again indoors in December.

forced Crocus February 17 2018

My first forced bulbs in many years; I put some Crocus in a paper bag in the fridge at the beginning of October, then planted them just after Christmas, keeping them in the fridge.  I pulled them out two weeks ago and here they are!

dwarf conifers on limestone boulder February 17 2018

There are three tiny conifers growing in natural pockets on this huge limestone boulder – two Juniper varieties and a cedar (Thuja).  The seeds must have just blown in because I certainly had nothing to do with it!

Horse Chestnut bud February 17, 2018

I’m hoping this year will bring a flower or two on my Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).  It started from a seed at least 10 years ago but is only abut 12 feet high – not growing in the best of conditions I guess – and has yet to flower in spring.

Woodpecker food February 17 2018

Finally a pair of black and white tree shots – this one showing the woodpecker food I have around the edge of the property.

circle branches February 17 2018

Just like the shape these two curving branches make when seen from the right angle.

It’s Seedy Saturday Time!

Hollyhock seeds

Hollyhock Seeds (Alcea rosea) – I have a lot of these packaged and ready to share.

While I’ve spent the past six weeks with my head in the snow and my body in front of a cozy fire, other gardeners have been busy planning for the 2018 growing season.   Yes, I’ve received and perused a few seed catalogues, with their glowing descriptions and lovely pictures of the wonders that could show up in my garden, but I haven’t ordered anything.

That’s because for me, the growing season starts in earnest with Seedy Saturday – the day when local(ish) seed sellers and gardeners set up tables and displays in a school gym or community hall to sell or, better yet, swap seeds.  Some of my favourite annuals, perennials and vegetables have come from a Seedy Saturday table:  Echinacea pallida, Silphium perfoliatum, Amethyst Jewel cherry tomato, Alcea rosea…. the list goes on.

For County dwellers, the Picton Seedy Saturday is next Saturday, February 24!  Trenton is March 24, Cobourg March 17, Kingston March 10… You can check out Seedy Saturday dates for the whole province (or country) on the Seeds of Diversity website — in fact, check out the whole site.  It has a ton of great information about seed saving and starting.

In the Toronto area – the first Seedy Saturday is this Saturday at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.Others, from Scarborough to Etobicoke and points in between,  follow throughout February and March.

Often these events are more than just tables of seeds – there are educational displays, talks by professionals and lots of information sharing.  It really is the perfect opportunity to get the gardening juices flowing after a long cold winter, to meet and share stories with other enthusiastic gardeners and to discover new plant varieties.

So mark you calendar, I hope to see you there!

Amethyst Jewel cherry tomato

Amethyst Jewel cherry tomato – started from Seedy Saturday seeds

Echinacea pallida July 8 2017

Pale Purple Coneflower – Echinacea pallida – started from Seedy Saturday seeds

Silphium perfoliatum July 29 2017

Cup Plant – Silphium perfoliatum – started from Seedy Saturday seeds

 

Variations on a Theme – dipped in frost

Echinacea purpurea frosty seedheads January 28 2018

A multitude of Echinacea purpurea seedheads.

It was a brilliant weekend on The County – just above freezing during the day, just below freezing at night, a bit of rain late Saturday, a lot of sun on Sunday.  Pretty perfect.

Sunday morning there was a very light frost covering everything;  I went out just before the sun hit and melted it away.

Veronica 'Whitley's Speedwell' January 28 2018

Rolling mini hills of Veronica ‘Whitley’s Speedwell’

Cotoneaster leaves January 29 2018

Cotoneaster leaves dipped in frost – January 28 2018

 

Variations on a Theme

Winter Sculptures

Part of the beauty of winter is discovering shapes, textures, colours and relationships in plants that you can’t see in the growing season.    Tree trunks growing in weird and wonderful directions.  Fat buds waiting to burst.  Bronzed coniferous foliage or bright red deciduous branches.  The weathered leaf of this Cup Plant (Silphium perforliatum) is an example.  From afar it’s just a deaf leaf.  But up close, for me, on a silent, cold, frosty morning, it’s a mini sculpture.  In colour or in black and white.

silphium perfoliatum weather leaf January 2018 b & wsilphium perfoliatum weather leaf January 2018

Silence
Weathered

Searching for Colour in Winter – Staghorn Sumac

I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover that Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) is native to my part of the world.  There’s so much of it around here I just assumed it, like all the despicable buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), was introduced.   The University of Guelph can provide a lot of information about this small tree, and it has a lot of positive traits, including providing food for birds.  My favourite thing about Sumac is the leaf colour in autumn and how the flowers turn and stay such a brilliant scarlet all winter.  It realy is nature’s perfect antidote to an otherwise grey and white season.

Sumac Jan 14 2018