Friday, January 28, 2011

A Mid-Winter Garden Tour-Part I

It is in winter that I appreciate the benefits of living in a Mediterranean climate the most. In summer, hot and tethered to the watering hose for hours on end, I dream of gardening in a gentler place farther North with a kinder sun and warm rain. But walking around my garden on a mild sunny day in mid-January, I am grateful for the variety of flowers around me. Will you take a walk with me?

Stepping out the front door is a little courtyard, a bit messy and overplanted, but glowing so gently now with the reflected winter sun and pastel colors of camellias, cyclamen and primroses.

 I did a post on my camellias recently, so I will only mention them in passing. Camellias are the only plants I know of that bloom when they are dormant.

Don't feed camellias in bloom!

Most of my camellias are early or mid-season, and their bloom is past peak.

I will miss them but the cyclamen are only just starting.

Fragrance is always very important to me, and lavender is one of my favorite plants. I must admit though that I usually admire it at a nursery because I have had very bad luck with it in my garden. Most of my garden is on sprinkler irrigation and lavender does not last long with so much water. I kept trying though, and finally found a spot for a few plants with just enough irrigation (a run-over from the neighbors' lawn) that it is happy. And so am I!

My sweet-pea shrub (polygala x dalmaisiana ) is easily 8'x8' (too big!). I have to prune it back but can't find the right time because there are always blooms on it....

With all this color I often overlook my little hellebore (helleborus), so unassuming, cheerful and generous with its flowers persisting long after the bloom period is over.

I was surprised to come out into the garden today and see this bloom on variegated hebe (H. x adersonii 'Variegata'). It does not usually bloom until much later in spring. I love the contrast of its fleshy white-bordered leaves and violet spikes of fragrant flowers. It is an easy shrub to grow here, it stays bushy and compact with pruning.

I have a little planter by my kitchen window filled with our version of winter color (in my case, cyclamen, stock, and pansies). I chose them in my favorite colors (white, pink and lavender-purple). They are planted in shade and last a long time.

Finally, the plant I am enjoying the most now, winter daphne (daphne odora).

It is a tidy open evergreen shrub with long glossy leaves and nosegay clusters of intensly fragrant flowers. Mine has variegated leaves (daphne odora aureomarginata) and grows in half sun with plenty of summer water. I sometimes bring the branches inside to enjoy the fragrance that fills the house.

I hope you have enjoyed this little walk around my winter garden. I have some more beautiful plants to talk about, but this will have to do for now.


  1. Wow, I'd say you have quite a lot to enjoy visually and with wonderful scents too. Thank you for the little tour, it was a pleasure.


  2. Great winter garden tour, Masha! It is amazing how much is blooming in your garden right now. Thanks for the treat this morning.


  3. Thank you, Christina! I am very glad to hear from you.

  4. Masha, your winter garden is amazing. So much color! Thank you for sharing all this beauty with us. I'm looking forward to part 2 ;-)

  5. The fragrance of Winter Daphne is heavenly, isn't it? I don't have one but the local arboretum does and the scent is delicious.

    Your Camellias and planters are lovely. I haven't see a sweet pea shrub before, the flowers are beautiful!


I am so glad you have stopped by!