Friday, February 27, 2009

Sun breaks

Sun breaks are the best breaks to have, especially after yesterday's snow. Tessa over at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots recently commented about my reference to this quirky phrase, a noun here in the Pacific Northwest to describe momentary bouts of sunshine. I'd never heard such a thing until I moved to Seattle, where Fall through mid-Spring is a palette of gray cloud coverage as common as Starbucks drive-thrus.
Now I know exactly what it means. It signals it's time to stop what you're doing, if only for a minute. Lift your face toward the sky and drink in that lovely wash of sunshine that could be gone before you know it. It also means I snatch up my camera and go check out what's happening in the garden.
Even the hellebore are standing up a bit straighter, turning up their usually averted faces. This dark beauty is between a large rhododendron and a camellia. It's the only "black" hellebore I have right now, but I'd like to add more. It usually takes a week or two longer to open up, but I think it's worth the wait.


Witch Hazel is finally coming out of its shell. This is a new addition to the garden and its fragrant blooms have been long awaited. It was especially tense around here when the tree was doing nothing while I was seeing similar plants in full show on other sites, such as Frances' Fairegarden. There is one wee problem. This is supposed to be "Diane," featuring redder petals. Could this be an impostor? Well, another look at Frances' posts shows she has a "Diane" that came in yellow at first. I will wait and see if this little lady warms up.

Stems on the Japanese Weeping Willow (Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki') are brightening up, adding some late winter interest in the backyard. This dwarf variety will put on creamy white leaves dappled with flecks of soft green. These plants tend to weep more as they age. I'm guessing the stiff limbs on mine are indicators of its youth. I've let this one go wild and crazy because I loath pruning ... too much pressure. Y can cut it back to clean it up in early Spring for more dramatic leaf and bark coloring. For now, mine is catching the sun breaks just fine.

19 comments:

Darla said...

Okay, so, it snowed right? These plants don't seem to mind to much. Maybe they would be beautiful additions for me in the wintertime. How do they fare in the HOT sun?

garden girl said...

That sunshine looks great! Love the hellebore and the witch hazel.

I ordered a small (gallon-size container) Jelena witch hazel for spring. I wanted Diane but didn't want to part with that much cash and couldn't find a small one. It's pretty tough getting larger root balls in the ground here with all the maple roots to contend with. I hope Jelena can hold her own - this will be my first try with witch hazel.

tina said...

Your witch hazel looks great, and I love that dark colored hellebore.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Your Hellebores is just beautiful.I planted my first one last fall and it has failed to survive so I need to see if it can be replaced. Fingers crossed.Wonderful things happening in your beds.

Dee said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for visiting my blog- I've just discovered yours and it is wonderful! I will definitely be back often.

Karen said...

Oh hooray, the witch hazel finally bloomed! Shy, maybe. Hm, it looks more like my Jelena right now, but maybe will turn Diane red before too long. So much anticipation this tree is causing! Lovely hellebore too.

joey said...

Lots of good stuff goin' on in your garden :) I have a L-O-N-G way to go to catch up!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Your pictures are so pretty. I'm glad your witch hazel is finally blooming. I think it looks like the one in Frances' post. Yeah for sun, even if it's only in breaks. I'm going out in it now! :)

Kerri said...

We had beautiful sun breaks Wednesday and Thursday. Rain and gray skies today though. The sunny days fuel us to endure the drab ones :)
I would dearly love to add a witch hazel to our garden. Yours is blooming beautifully!
That hellebore is such a gorgeous color.
Glad you enjoyed meeting the kitties :)

Megan said...

My orange witch hazel, Jelena, a) bloomed yellow b) bloomed in November. There is no accounting for them, they're an unruly bunch.

Cathy said...

Your Hellebores are lovely...

sweet bay said...

That Hellebore looks like it should be in a chocolate-themed garden. That's a wonderful picture.

Sun is wonderful here in NC in spring, summer and fall, but not so in summer, when it's like being under a grill. Even though we're at opposite ends of the country I can relate to the joy those winter sun breaks bring.

Cinj said...

Those plants don't seem to mind late winter. I really need to find something that will show some growth. There are SO many wonderful plants out there, don't you just want at least one of each?

Gardeness said...

Darla: They're holding their own, thank goodness. Hellebores are shade lovers and you'd need to supplement water during really dry spells. The witch hazel is new to me but it's popular around here and we do get temps into the high 80s.

Garden Girl: I think Jelena is a tough bird .. err, tree. We'll have to watch each other's progress!

Tina: Thanks, I enjoy that deep maroon color. I've got a chocolate cosmos about the same shade.

Hocking Hills: Oh, I hope they work for you. They're a winter delight, for sure. I lost a couple that may have been kept too moist. Oh, and our dogs probably "watered" them a bit!

Dee: Thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed the post. I'll be visiting your site regularly, too!

Karen: I know. I think this is just one cool plant.

Joey: Thanks. I just glad the snow is gone! I love your recipes, btw.

Catherine: I sure hope it's Diane. Wouldn't be a huge deal but kind of planned the plants around that tree!

Kerri: Sending more sun your way! Today was gorgeous. You're cats were too cute.

Megan: You're so right. I shouldn't even worry about it!

Cathy: Thank you. I'm liking these plants more and more.

sweet box: I lived in Raleigh for several months. It was end of summer, so still rather warm. But then it snowed 13 inches! This MT girl was not impressed.

Cinj: Hellebores and Witch Hazel definitely shine this time of year. But I know what you mean about needing to find more!

Phew! Thanks everyone for visiting. It's great hearing from you and getting your thoughts on my random ramblings! Happy Gardening.

Aerie-el said...

Sun breaks and drive-thru coffee shops. I hadn't heard of them before moving to the PNW either. I used to wonder why people couldn't just get out of their cars to get a cup o'jo. Now I know. And the sun breaks are exactly as you said--moments to soak in!
I adore witch hazel, but have yet to own one. That is definitely on my list of top ten to get...hopefully this year!
Love the hellebores too!

Teza said...

What wonderful progress your gardens are making. I too have a Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' that has been grafted into a 4-5' trunk, but it does not weep. The branches remain stiff! Does yours have the pink catkins in spring, or is it the alba version? I will post pictures this season so we can compare!

Kathleen said...

Love that word, "sun breaks!" I would be living for them I think. Your black hellebore is GORGEOUS!! I want one!!

flowergardengirl said...

I'm with Sweet Bay...love the winter breaks. We had too many days of a 100 degree weather last summer. It was unusual and nuts. I love the sun in every season but mid summer here in NC.

Sue said...

I am enjoying catching up on your posts. I like this idea of sun breaks, too. Your flower pics are lovely!