Winter is not my season. It’s not so much the cold weather, as it is the length of day; and I use the word length lightly. The days of January are just too short for my liking. I prefer to be a big ole bear in January and hibernate. While sleeping, time inches along just enough to make February respectable. Now with February here, I’m ready to take a peak at what’s going on outside.
In zone 7b Raleigh, NC, where I live, we don’t often have the benefit of a snow laying softly on the ground – protecting, insulating, and dazzling us with a photo op at every turn. We must make due with other ways to entertain ourselves. Our photo ops are in the form of flowers, scent, and texture.
I wish I could give you a nickel for every time an opportunity was missed. Not by me, or course, but by others who ante up for spring, summer and sometimes fall gardening, but fall short during winter. A couple of decades ago, I’ve decided to make it my personal mission to garden specifically for the winter.
So come along with me while I give you a little tour of a garden I call Helen’s Haven.
Paperbush – Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Winter Gold’.
Let’s begin out the back door with Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Winter Gold’. This beauty is located just off by covered porch so when her flowers open, the scent whiffs, reminding me to sit and enjoy. With my extremities wrapped and hands holding a hot cup of coco, I seize the moment.
The flower heads begin to form in fall when the leaves are still on the tree. She takes her sweet ole time opening though, but that’s OK. I like the way the flower heads hang there in anticipation of opening. Slowly, starting in February, the flower heads will begin to open with that sweet scent ready to swoon me till spring.
It’s a good thing I ignored my own policy to have a zone wrapped around any plant I buy, protecting my pocket book and dignity, because Edgeworthia is believed to be hardy in zones 8b – 10b . I beg to differ, but I don’t feel the need to knock on any doors. As long as you know I grow it in my zone 7b garden.
It’s too comfy to get up from my chair and besides, the coco is still melting my marshmallows and I want to be sitting when it’s time to slurp them down. This works out fine since I don’t need to travel far to continue with the tour because the Poet’s Laurel
(Danae racemosa) is reciting my name. Also viewed from the back porch is this low slung, long legged evergreen beauty, grown for her foliage. In the winter, Poet’s Laurel also has big, reddish-orange, pea-sized berries to add a pop of color adding warmth in the cool color of shade.
Well, I never made it off the back porch, but tomorrow is another day. And tomorrow’s light will be a wee bit longer than today, giving me hope that spring is just around the corner.
First published in the Christian Science Monitor.
Helen Yoest is a garden writer, speaker and garden coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™.
Helen is the founder, publisher and editor of:
Tarheel Gardening – your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.