29 December 2009

The Color of Winter is In the Imagination

Or in a nice container planting.

In my rush to pack and get ready for my trip to CA for our winter break, I neglected to take photos of my winter container. I was pleased with how it came out then, while I was away, it was buried under 20" of snow and battered by high winds before I returned to capture it in pictures! Still, given the abuses cranky ol' Mother Nature hurled at it, I think it came through pretty well!

I decided to keep a few of the perennial plants in the container, such as the Muhlenbergia capillaris, Thymus citriodora argenteus variegata, and the purple Brassica oleracea.

Added to the mix are the sanguine stems of Cercis alba 'Bloodgood', and the sunny stems of Cercis cericea 'Aurea'. The Pink Muhly looked better before the Big Snow; the seed heads were denser and provided a nice feathery pink haze to blur the rigid Dogwood stems. Playing off the red and yellow theme, I added a few sprigs each of Pinus strobus 'Hillside Winter Gold' and Viburnum hupense (shamelessly scavenged from my housemate Gavin's leftovers). Toward the back I tucked in some Picea pungens glauca, compliments of the lovely tree growing next to my house, and a bit of Ilex opaca for its glossy dark green leaves. Besides, what says 'winter' more than a sprig of holly with its bright red berries?

By far the biggest surprise - and I say surprise because I've never had occasion to grow this plant in a climate where the temperature can dip well below the 20's - was the Thyme. Even after several frosts and a blizzard it still looked and smelled amazing! Granted, it's much more silver now compared to the green and gold it was in summer, so I'm curious to see how quickly the color comes back in the spring, but who knew!? I can still wander out to my garden this winter (OK, sprint!) to snip some fresh Thyme to cook with my chicken! How fabulous is that?!

As for the rest of the garden, well, you don't really want to see it. The snow pretty well smushed what was left of the Cardoon and Artichoke, but they may bounce back. Everything else is gone to its winter slumber and even the perennials that do come back may be moved to the front of my house in order to make more room for growing veggies! Since we have a few months yet before the last frost, I've got time to decide exactly what I'm going to do.

For now, when the bleak and dreary landscape get me down and I'm crazy enough to brave the chill, I can go out to look at my winter container and be cheered by its brightness.

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