December 23, 2008

Snow White

This morning, we awoke to a Disney wonderland. These scenes remind me of the images one used to see in the vintage Viewmaster's, technocolor snowscenes of National Parks and the like. OK...it was 6 below zero, and the ducks needed boiling water brought out to their hutch, and the squirrels were starving....but one cannot deny the beauty of a new, deep cover of fluffy snow. Natures mulch of deep snow is exactly what the garden needed, and although it arrived late, it arrived with perhaps enough time to curve the risk for deep frost which can permeate the soil when it is not covered. I was hoping for a deep snow like we had last year, which never melted until March -the perfect plant winter. Since many of us more intense gardeners like to experiment with plants from more tender zones, these deep snows raise the staked that we might be able to have zone 7 or zone 8 plants growing in a zone 5 or 6 garden. Often, the risk is not cold temperatures for many plants, it's the thawing and freezing cycles, or moisture. Either way, my celebration on successfully overwintering Agapanthus and Kniphophia last year. Hopefully, the snow will last all winter, exactly what happens in the high alps and rockies. And exactly what the alpines need. Without snow, the troughs of alpine plants that spend the winter exposed to the elements can suffer, not from cold, but from ice, rain and the thawing and freezing cycles which never happens in their natural environment.

Japanese Ardisia as a Holiday decoration.

One of the many plants which the Japanese are obsessive about is the genus, Ardisia. Difficult to find, one can find two species at Logee's greenhouses in Connecticut, and at Barry Yinger's fabulous collector site, Asiatica. At Asiatica Nursery, one can usually find more rare cultivar's, but the genus is large, with nearly 300 species world wide, some invasive, some recently found to have interest as phytopharmaceuticals like ardisin, reportedly a powerful antioxydent ( since I HAD to Google this!) and bergenin, apparently sold on every boby building site as a drug that "stimulates thermogenisis" rrrrright. Anyway, don't eat the berries because I said to, beside, we have Ephedra in the rock garden which will do just fine.

Ardisia are sub-hardy to zone 8, and we keep ours in stoneware pots outdoors until after Thanksgiving, in mid November since even temperatures around 25 degrees F. does not hurt them. Although costly, the plants are sturdy and spend the summer in decorative pots on the terrace, where their berries, which they hold most of the year are often on display along with the tiny white flowers they produce in July. This is a 24/7 plant, they look good year round, and some species spread enough to fill a pot, whilst others, like remain shrub-like such as Ardisia crenata.

A Holiday arrangement made not from traditional materials, but from tender plants from the greenhouse. What looks like variegated holly, is actually Osmanthus, and the red berries are Ardisia. WHich gives me an idea. I've been throwing around an idea for a modern berrybowl.........


  1. What a wonderful berrybowl!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Your flower posts all rock. Happy New Year to you.


It's always a good thing to leave a comment!