Early Winter

Chimonanthus praecox  

Chimonanthus praecox 

X Sycoparrotia semidecidua 

X Sycoparrotia semidecidua 

Christmas was a lovely, cold day and I spent it listing the flowers in bloom.  I had anticipated the day and kept an eye out for promising buds but when the day came, I found fewer open flowers than usual.  The daffodils which had bloomed earlier, were droopy because of recent freezes; most of the white quinces had promising fat, white buds, but without a stamen in sight.  It was especially disappointing not to find a single Christmas rose—not a hellebore or a rose.  The disappointment of that day was quickly forgotten as more and more hellebores opened their flowers in the next few days. More cyclamen and narcissus bloomed and the fragrance of Chimonanthus praecox filled the air along the driveway and along the mother-in-law walk.   X Sycoparrotia semidecidua lives up to its name with yellow leaves and swollen flower buds along its branches.  The parrotia parent gives last year’s leaves their bright yellow color and early winter endurance.  Galanthus plicatus‘ Three Ships’ made its proper statement on Christmas day and more and more snowdrops bloom now with Galanthus gracilis filling an area in Stubble Field, hybrids growing south of the large planting of G. elwesii var. monostictus and several large groups of G. elwesii Edward Whittall Group almost at its peak.  

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger

Last week we began cutting back the hellebore leaves from last year. When the flower stalk is taller than the old leaves, I believe they no longer give the flower buds any protection and there are several reasons why we believe it is best to cut off old leaves. They may harbor fungus, which can remain viable in the soil and affect additional plants.  The leaves hide some of the flowers as the stems lengthen and may smother many small plants, such as aconites, anemones, and cyclamen that bloom at the same time.  Aconites and Crocus sieberi opened last week–more than 2 weeks later than usual.  

Crocus sieberi  

Crocus sieberi 

We began clearing the sections of the woods where we left off last winter and removed fallen sticks and branches, dug ivy, periwinkle, honeysuckle, small and unwanted trees, and removed some hybrid hellebores and epimediums.  Part of the challenge of gardening is to recognize when desirable plants outgrow their designated places.  Some hybrid hellebores and the matting forms of epimediums can produce a controlled area where nothing else can grow, but they are too great a challenge for cyclamen and other less vigorous plants.  We love this season and spend every minute we can searching for flowers, planning for next year, and, of course, we have another group of snowdrops to divide and plant in a new area.

Cyclamen hederifolium  foliage

Cyclamen hederifolium foliage

Christmas List 2018


Berries or Fruit:

Berberis thunbergii

Danae racemosa

Hedera helix ‘Poetica Arborea’

Ilex cornuta

Ilex decidua ‘Pocahontas’, ‘Finch’s Yellow’, seedlings

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca ‘Carolina Cardinal’

Ilex vomitoria

Liriope muscari, black berries

Nandina domestica, yellow and red berried forms

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

Rohdea japonica

Symphoricarpos orbiculata


Camellias, mostly unidentified C. japonica

Chaenomeles ‘Crimson and Gold’, ‘Chojubai’

Chimonanthus praecox

Chrysanthemum ‘Golden Lida Thomas’

Crocus laevigatus

Crocus tournefortii

Cyclamen cilicium

Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen hederifolium 

Enemion biternatum

Erica carnea, pink

Galanthus elwesii “Sandra Lutz”

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus

Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger x argutifolius (H. x nigercors)

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x sternii

Jasminum nudiflorum

Knautia arvensis

Loropetalum chinensis

Mahonia unnamed seedling

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

Mahonia x media ‘Lionel Fortescue’

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’

Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Ranunculus repens

Rudbeckia triloba

Sarcococca confusa

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Rosea’

Verbena canadensis white, purple

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’

Viburnum tinus

Viola striata


Montrose Garden