Rosemary is one of those plants that we always have to haul in and out of our houses because of it's tenderness to cold temperatures. Those of us that love to cook with it, or those of us that simply like the look of it become a slave to it's picky weather preferences.
Enter 'Madalene Hill' Rosemary...
Though still labeled a zone 6 (while we are a solid 5), it is still cold hardy to -10! If we choose the right spot (a protected area with southern exposure), we might just get away with planting it outdoors! Is it sad that learning this makes me so excited!? :) I have planted Photinias, Variegated Hollies, and even roses that are labelled zone 6 and they have thrived without a problem so far. We plan on ordering 'Madeline Hill' Rosemary in this spring to try out! Keep watching so you don't miss out!
I can't let a winter go by without mentioning the beloved Witch Hazel...
This is a 'Jelena' Witch Hazel that is out in our nursery. There are several varieties of Witch Hazel, all with different color blooms, but I love this one because of the color variation. Not only do they provide some much needed color during the drab part of the year, but they also produce a brilliant fall show! They tend to like a shadier area in our climate, but if allowed a bit of dappled sun, their leaves will color up from yellow, to orange, to red, to chartreuse green.
They can grow to be quite large, but they are fairly slow-growing so it's easy to keep them a manageable size!
This is my makeshift vegetable garden/raised bed my husband and I built (due to the fact that I planted a French knot garden in my vegetable garden spot...priorities). It looks quite pretty when it is full of beautiful plants in season. Last year I grew a cucumber up a topiary form on one side, had trailing petunias spilling out of it, PLUS was able to grow green onions, cilantro, red mustard, kale, 5 different types of greens, carrots, peas, peppers, and other misc. flowers! It could definitely use another coat of stain (last years has worn off), but it still gives me about 10 sq. ft. of space which will grow quite a bit of produce! I am too impatient to wait for March to sow my spring crops, so I ran a heating cable about 3" underneath the soil, and put together these hoops to create a sort of mini-greenhouse. I will attach some greenhouse plastic to it tonight after I have sown and watered in some carrots, radishes, spinach, lettuce, kale, and peas! If it doesn't work like I hope it will, no worries. I will just start over next month sans heating cable! At least it makes me feel like I am doing something in the garden other than cleanup- I want to grow some food! :)
Today, I was inspired to bring branches from an ornamental pear inside to force. My mom sent me her article for our March newsletter, and that's what it was all about-what shrubs to look for to bring some early spring beauty into your home! That was all I needed to hear. I dragged Monica outside with me, and she lifted me up and down on a forklift into the pear tree in front of the store to gather some of these branches!
Now I have three galvanized containers of various shapes and sizes full of these branches! They will soon boast bunches of beautiful, white flowers!
What do you have outside that you could bring in now?
There is nothing like a peony in full bloom... Just look at these!
Both of these peonies are growing happily in my parent's garden. The lavender variety (a tree peony: Paeonia suffruticosa Kamata-nishika) has dinner plate sized blooms. Absolutely breathtaking. The yellow one (shrub type: Paeonia x 'Bartzella') is a harder to come by variety. If you see one of these...don't even think about...buy it!
I am just loving this early spring weather! Yesterday, I was able to work outside for several hours cleaning up beds, edging grass, planting bulbs (I still had a couple hundred to plant from fall!), and running heating cables in my patio raised beds to try and force some spring crops! Some areas of my garden were still fairly frozen, but some areas were pretty well thawed and ready to go. I was able to easily lift soil and pop the bulbs into the ground. Most of all, I loved getting my watering can out and soaking the bulbs after I planted them. It just felt like spring.
They are a succulent so it receives the same care as all my cacti (water every 10 days, fertilize every other time), and they have delicate white blooms a couple times a year. Of course, when I first saw one of these plants, I just HAD to pop on of the beads (I have no idea why :)...I was expecting the same outcome as bubble wrap for some reason, but encountered a wet mess with no sound effect. Sad.
I have to admit that when I first started working with cacti and succulents I wasn't a huge fan. They seemed so unfriendly and boring.
I was wrong.
The more time I've spent caring for them, the more I have been able to see their subtle beauty. The intricate design each has, and let me tell you, you won't find such beautiful color and intricate patterns in other plants as you will in some of these cacti and succulents! I have grown to really love all cacti and succulents-to the point of wanting to collect some of the more rare varieties (have you ever seen a Calamar Squid Agave, a 'Bloodspot' Mangave, or a Spiral Aloe? I would love to have any one of these!). They have a beauty uniquely their own, and were created to be survivors. Most other plants would shrivel at the site of where these relish and thrive.
This is an Aeonium 'Zwartkop'
I have found the best schedule for the cacti and succulents in our sunroom is to water them every 10 days, and add a little cactus fertilizer every other time you water. They do great!