The snow is gone and the temperature is rising. February ends today and March starts tomorrow. In the garden, February is time to relax and plan for the coming gardening year. March is time to get out and work to prepare the garden for spring.
We have enjoyed the winter interest created by last year’s spent flowers and grasses. We consciously chose to let their shapes, textures, and muted colors decorate the winter landscape. But in March, we have to pay the price and trim back the perennials to prepare for the new growth starting this month. It is also time to transplant some of the hardier plants as well as pull the winter weeds.
As I have commented several times before, every time I walk through our garden I see something from a different perspective. Many of the views through Heatherwood have been planned as part of the design. The one above is an unplanned gift, looking through the lower rock garden northwest to the surrounding hills and our neighbor’s cherry orchard.
We have several such views since our newly planted trees are relatively small. Over the years, the tree canopies will grow and block many of these “peek” views. In turn, they will frame and highlight other views. The garden will continuously change bringing new surprises. Exciting!
Last spring we planted six small witch hazels, 3 red (Diane) and 3 orange (Jelena). The Jelena (shown in my 9 Feb posting) was the first to bloom. The Diane started to bloom about a week earlier. The blooms on both are now faded. The plants are small, only 12 to 18 inches tall. They are forming the start of an understory of shrubs for one of our planting areas in the lower Heatherwood garden. We are searching to add a yellow species to fill out the witch hazel color template: red, orange, and yellow.
As the witch hazels mature, they will provide a beautiful burst of mid-winter color in the garden. The will act as the harbinger of the coming spring.
Nothing is perfect … nothing is permanent … nothing is complete. Wabi-sabi is a characteristic concept of our Heatherwood garden. I find beauty in every aspect of imperfection throughout our garden. This spent rose was a beautiful red flower in its prime. The summer flower’s fleeting beauty transitioned to these stems and rose hips in the fall and winter. In nature the hips would release the seeds to the ground. Its life is incomplete as the seeds create new plants.
I admire the beauty of this rose stalk and hips every day as I sit and read and look out our family room window. They fascinate me. I do not have the heart or desire to prune the winter roses to make them look neat. I just simply enjoy them as they are. There is plenty of time to prune the roses before the spring growth.
There are just four weeks until the first day of spring. Though there is still snow on the ground at home, temperatures are getting warmer and my mind is starting to transition to spring. I am starting to think about spring trips to Northwest gardens like the Seattle and Portland Japanese gardens. We have not been to either one since the fall of 2019 prior to Covid-19. Each time I visit a garden, I come back with a mind full of ideas. Right now, we are focusing on selecting the right type of rhododendrons, azaleas, shade trees, deciduous shrubs and ground covers for Heatherwood’s Japanese garden. I am ready for a little inspiration.
This is one of my first infrared images that I created about ten years ago. It is interesting to look back and see how my photography has changed over the years. It is also interesting to notice how my subject interest has remained the same. I am always on the lookout for old structures that cause me to think and reflect on the way life use to be.
This image was created on the way back home from a photography workshop with Tony Sweet in the Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the themes he worked with the group on was infrared photography. Old farm structures were one of the subjects we worked on. Skip forward to today … I am planning a trip to the Palouse this spring to photograph the rolling hills and old farms. This summer I have scheduled a workshop with Tony Sweet focusing again on infrared imaging. How things have changed; how things have remained the same.
On a crisp winter’s morning, I gaze out over the Heatherwood landscape. I look over our immediate landscape to the hills surrounding our grounds. My eyes stop and become fixated on our neighbor’s beautiful cherry tree. It is the last standing memory of a bygone cherry orchard of the past.
We frequently walk by the tree on the way to pick up the mail. We stop and admire the tree throughout the year. Zelda, our neighbor’s Black Labrador, frequently greets us yearning for a pet.
The Kotoji Japanese lantern is probably the most frequent single element that I have photographed in our Heatherwood Japanese Garden. It sits in a prominent spot overlooking the stream and waterfalls. One leg is in the stream while the other sits solidly on land. From every angle it seems to be a sentinel guarding the stream and pond below. The Kotoji can be seen from multiple places around the Japanese garden as well as as from the lower Heatherwood meadow and garden. Even in winter it is a dominant focal point in the landscape. At night its internal light shines through the lantern openings while an external flood lamp highlights the lantern and stream.
Many mornings we have started the day enjoying a cup of coffee overlooking the Kotoji from the “Perch” above. In the late afternoon/early evening we have sat below looking up over the pond and waterfalls to the Kotoji as we sip a glass of wine toasting to another beautiful day.
I don’t know which I enjoy the most: the snow-covered panicle hydrangeas in winter or the profuse white blooms in the summer. Each conveys a different feeling: one a quiet, peaceful, solemn feeling, the other a robust splurge of brightness. The more I think about it, the easier the answer is. I like both for the enjoyment they bring.
We continue to get a little more snow. It is light enough not to incur any real inconvenience. Even though I anxiously anticipate the spring bloom, I appreciate the beauty of the winter season, especially with a blanket of fresh snow. Each season has its unique beauty. All I have to do is to look out our windows to discover little vignettes that highlight our garden.