Gardens Eye Journal-January 2016


“I enjoy the cleaning up-something about getting of things in order for winter-making the garden secure-a battening down of hatches perhaps…It just feels right.”  

~David Hobson



With a considerable lack of typical winter weather in December, snow and cold, the garden appeared to be sleeping or maybe not.  With cold mornings, and warmer days, it had been tricked into thinking it was very early spring.

And the new winter outlook is showing above normal temps from January to March with normal DSCN0805precipitation, thankfully.  What is different is the type of precipitation…..rainy for much of December.  And with all the rain, I saw a surge in grass and weeds in my garden beds….like the seed head of the dandelion above….lots of dandelions around.  

But as I write this and December ends, winter has made its appearance, finally!  A bit of snow, lots of sleet and ice (2 inches) and then a bit more snow. Barely an inch of snow really, but it is cold and the pond is frozen.  Will this winter weather remain?  Well we shall see…..





sunrise dec collage

This fabulous sunrise was seen from outdoors in my sandals and no socks, as some mornings had been in the 40s.  They released some new snow stats for our area.  Namely that we beat the record for the latest we have received one inch of snow.  The record had been December 22, 2012.  And our first big snow came January 3rd, 2016 with a couple of inches.  Remember we only received a half inch of snow on November 23rd, as I showed in my First Glimpse of Winter post.  

With the record warmth, we had many inches of rain in December.  Judging by the flooding in the garden, I would say well over 8 inches of rain fell.  In December, we were at least 10 degrees above normal making it the warmest December on record.




Garden Views

I thought I would start out with some interesting garden views in December.



As I said, very rainy in the first few days breaking the dry spell we had in November.  See the puddles of standing water in the back garden, behind the Center Garden?  That was the usual flooded view all month.





And with the fluctuations in temps, we had fog on a few wet and cold mornings with flooding near the Bog Garden.





And on this same morning, a bit of frozen water in the rain garden near the gazebo as temps hovered near freezing.





I loved this view at dusk, with my neighbor’s Christmas lights, seen from my front porch during our green Christmas.






No you are not seeing things.  Snowdrops in the back, near the pond waterfall.  I was shocked to see them.  I have noticed a few others just coming up as I walked the garden, but they are hard to see with the weeds and garden debris still covering many beds. 




flowers collage

And the Gaillardia (top left) bloomed well into late December with (clockwise) Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton‘ in the Wall Garden next to the house, Scabiosa ochroleuca and Lamium all greeting the New Year.





And this Witch Hazel, which is the non-native in my garden, Hamamelis vernalis, blooming way ahead of schedule.  Normally it blooms in early spring.  This plant is native to the southern and central US.  It was sent in error as I wanted the eastern US native, Hamamelis virginiana.  






Lots of interesting foliage was observed in December.


grasses collage

The typical foliage we see, in early winter, in the garden are the brown grasses…this one an unnamed Miscanthus.





One of the two Hypericum prolificum still hanging on to its foliage after 2 months.





One of many Epimedium behind the gazebo still looking fresh.  





And my pea plant still growing, with garlic and cilantro, in the veg garden all month.




greens collage

But the biggest surprise was seeing so many plants putting on new spring growth….in early winter!  Clockwise starting top left is Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale), daffodils in some areas already several inches high, perennial Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius), daylily and Hyacinth (center).  The other plants, I have seen before in late fall and even when the snow melts, but not Hyacinths.  That is so strange.





And I love the fungus growing on the ash tree stump as it decays naturally.  You can see the moisture from the fog glistening on the fungus.





pond dec collage

I think the biggest surprise has been in the pond.  The Green frogs were not hibernating until the New Year.  At least not the larger two.  They hung out in the pond or on the pond edge during the warm days and cold nights.  I am not sure how this warm weather will affect them as the winter goes along, but I will be observing them to see if they stay below the pond surface in the mud sleeping.





dec critters collage

Not many new visitors in the garden.  The birds have been enjoying the seeds, suet, suet crumbs on the ground (Juncos), and even the Blue Jays (top left) are now coming to check out the suet.  The berries and rose hips still remain in the garden.  The birds must be keeping them for colder weather.


We had a few surprise visitors around Christmas.  You can read about them in my  Wildlife Lessons post on Thursday, at my new blog, Living from Happiness.  Please stop by!

I am sharing all our critters with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.





Here’s a parting shot from the front garden as I glance over again at the Christmas lights next door through the barberry bush this time.




late dec Collage

And this was the aftermath of the December 29th sleet storm (left)….and then a couple of days later (right) on the 31st as we saw the old year out.



These are the amazing highlights of my garden in December.  What was a favorite highlight from your December garden?



In A Vase On Monday 




I wanted to create another holiday centerpiece.  I decided to cut some Bayberry and Boxwood greenery to line the basket.  It still had the Miscanthus grass from the Harvest Basket.




holiday basket collage

And I thought some Barberry berries and dried hydrangea flowers would add a bit more to the basket.  The greenery will dry naturally, and add to the look of this basket which should last a long time as it needs no water.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase/container:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.


Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I will be revisiting a special spot I visited a few years ago.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

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