Returning to the scene of the crime

In February 2012 I fell on our big berm in the front yard and broke both bones in my right arm. This was a big handicap since I am right-handed. Since then, I’ve had other health issues that prevented me from writing my blog. Today I begin again.

Possumhaw with leaves.

Possumhaw with leaves.

Winter time limits the color palette of the garden. Hollies and other evergreens are the stars of the landscape now. Deciduous hollies  show off now because they lose their leaves, so their berries really show up, as this Possumhaw before leaf fall and the Winterberry without leaves.

Winterberry, Ilex verticilata, is our newest deciduous holly.

Winterberry, Ilex verticilata, is our newest deciduous holly.

Grape-hollies, which are neither grapes nor hollies, are blooming now. The bees are eager to collect nectar from one of the few winter-blooming plants. The pretty yellow bell flowers are followed by gorgeous sky-blue berries.

Grape holly bloom clusters.

Grape-holly (Mahonia) bloom clusters.

Hellebores, also called Christmas or Lenten Roses, bloom reliably in January and February, with blossoms continuing until April. Most are evergreen, so their large palm-shaped foliage makes a good ground cover. Inter-planting them with spring bulbs helps hide unsightly bulb foliage after their flowers are spent.

This freckled bloom may open as early as January or as late as February..

This freckled bloom may open as early as January or as late as February.

I’m a little rusty on how-to-do etc., but it is good to be back. See you in the garden!


2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Scenes from the Wichita Garden Show

Wichita Garden Show

The first weekend in March was a wonderful road trip with my friend, Sharon Haley, to Kansas for the Wichita Garden Show, one of the top five in the nation. The gardens were designed based on movie themes: Jurassic Park, Up, The Secret Garden, Avatar and others. Very creative and fun. (run the cursor over the pictures to discover the film name.)

Garden Programs for 2011—Open to all

2011 Laurin Wheeler Program Series

Flower, Garden and Nature Society of NWAR


January  15     Round-table discussion. Bring favorite garden tool for show

and tell and be prepared to share what works for you in your


February 19    Karyn Zaremba-Culver, owner of Bean Mountain Farms and Herbal

Simplicity, will present a hands-on program, “I’ve Grown These

Beautiful Herbs, Now What Do I Do With Them?”, featuring how to

make herbal sugars, vinegars and oils.

March 19        C. Colston Burrell, international lecturer, garden designer, award winning

author, naturalist and photographer. Books include: Hellebores: A

Comprehensive Guide, Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, Rodale’s

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials, Perennial Combinations,

Perennials for Today’s Gardens and A Gardener’s Encyclopedia of

Wildflowers. His garden, Bird Hill, near Charlottesville, Virginia was featured

in the New York Times and other publications.  “Native

Alternatives to Invasive Plants”

April 16        Dr. Gerald Klingaman, Director of Operations, Botanical Garden of the

Ozarks,  “Hardy Ferns for Northwest Arkansas.”

May 21         Gail Pianalto, Washington County Master Gardener and co-founder of

Wa. Co. Junior Master Gardeners, has given talks at 4 national meetings

of  the American Horticulture Society’s Children and Youth Gardening

Symposium. She will present as “Luna Lovegood on Moon Gardening,”

about how the garden doesn’t go to sleep at night.

As the day shift leaves, the night shift comes to work.

June 11         Through the Garden Gate tour at selected Northwest Arkansas  gardens

July 16          Leigh Wilkerson, organic gardener and garden writer,

“Edible Landscaping”

August 20       Tom Dillard, Director of Special Collections, UA Library,

“More than Hostas: Gardening in the Shade.”

September 17   Dr. Ashley Dowling, UA Entomology Department, “Ant lions, Tiger

Beetles and Lace Wings, Oh My!” The story on the “other” benefi-

cial insects that help us control garden pests.

October 15       Larry Lowman, former owner of very successful Ridgecrest Nursery

in Wynne, AR. “Native Success Stories by a Southern Nurseryman.”

November 19   Steve Sampers, president of NWA Master Naturalists, will give a

presentation on the  “Master Naturalist Program and Training.”

Social time begins at 9:30 with the programs starting around 10:00 a.m. Contact: Lynn Rogers, 479-521-9090. Meet in

Student Center of NWAR Technical Institute, 709 S. Old Missouri Rd.,

(red light at Ford and Hwy 265) Springdale, AR. Meetings are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Japanese Iris (I. ensata) 'Strut and Flourish'

Evergreen Ferns and relatives brighten the Winter landscape.

evergreen ferns

Autumn, Tassel (top) and Champion(below) Ferns add green to Winter landscape.

Warmer winter days, like today, are perfect for assessing the landscape plan.  If deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials dominate your space, your garden may seem to resemble a moonscape, devoid of life.  I looked around our acre garden and found some  spots where I could pop in more evergreen ferns. These 3 pictured survived the weeks of snow and 0° temps this month.  Autumn Fern, (Dryopteris erythrosora) Tassel Fern, (Polystichum polyblepharum) and Champion’s Wood Fern (Dryopteris championii) anchor a shady portion of a new bed on our patio, backed up by a big deciduous Royal Fern.

Another favorite for winter color is Arborvitae Fern, also called Braun’s Spikemoss, (Selaginella braunii), which is neither fern nor moss, but a club moss, which is a fern ally. Giant forms of  club mosses flourished during the Permian and Carboniferous periods, millennia ago, laying down beds of coal. In extreme cold, Selaginella is  semi-evergreen, simply curling up its fronds rather than disappearing.

Other evergreen ferns include Christmas Fern, Dixie Wood Fern, Leathery Wood Fern and Holly Fern.