December Arrives

A stroll in the garden last Thursday reveled only one thing.  It’s boring.  Boring is probably not the worst thing since there have been tours which brought on anger, apathy, or disgust, but the tour did not bring on wonder or excitement, and for me that daily change or new surprise is what makes the yard so interesting.

cyclamen hederifolium foliage

The hardy cyclamen (this one is Cyclamen hederifolium) is pretty exciting now that the foliage is up, but I’ve seen it all before, and should really give a few of the cool new seedlings some room to develop.

I suppose I could find something to do and give the garden a scorched earth cleanup, rounding up every stray leaf and eliminating every dead and dried stalk, but that’s even more boring.  The birds will need something to pick through, and in January a few old seedheads holding the snow will give a little more interest to otherwise dull drifts.  So instead I cut and placed a few chicken wire cages to protect the most treasured shrubs from their annual bunny shearing.

rabbit shrub protection

Previously the rabbits around here were as lazy as I am, and if they had to even push aside a tuft of grass to get to a carrot they wouldn’t bother.  But now they’ve become empowered, and I have to protect things like this ‘Diane’ witch hazel with these attractive wire cages.

My friend Kathy was right.  Deer may not like witch hazels, but bunnies do, and if you’re thinking good for me to put this protection in place before any real damage occurs, you’re being excessively optimistic in regards to my laziness.  The new witch hazels should have been caged up weeks ago as more tender things in the garden dried up, but no, it wasn’t until the first one was nipped off at four inches that I figured it was time.  Fast forward another week when the second hazel was nipped to the ground that I finally got moving.

Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy'

One last succulent has earned its right to a winter spent inside.  After Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ survived a few heavy frosts and downright freezes I could no longer turn my back on the pot and into the garage it came.  I wonder just how hardy this thing really is?

I actually did find one bit of excitement while planting some not-really-wanted colchicums (they were supposed to be white… not pink).  The excitement wasn’t the tulip bulbs I sliced through when digging a hole, the excitement was a stray snowdrop in full bloom in a spot where I’ve only ever planted spring varieties.

fall snowdrop

A November snowdrop.  Two years after planting bulk Galanthus elwesii here, this one decides to beat the neighbors and open a few months and a whole season early.  I’ll be curious to see what it thinks next year.

Not to end on a down note, but this little November snowdrop is now encased (hopefully not entombed) in ice just waiting for the first larger snowfall of the season to happen.  I’d show pictures but would prefer to keep this a family friendly blog and will instead show a photo from the Thanksgiving trip which the impending storm cut short.

deer on Long Island

Deer along the beach of the Long Island Sound.  The wide open blue skies of the beach always recharge my outdoor batteries in a way the woodsy mountains and valleys of Pennsylvania don’t.

Things can’t be all that bad when you’re cozy inside and the weather happens on the other side of the window, so I can’t complain, but what ever storms come your way I hope they’re easy on your neck of the woods, and even if they’re snowy, I hope you have a great week!

24 comments on “December Arrives

  1. Even though I know better I didn’t cage any of my witch hazels. I hope I don’t regret it.

  2. Like you, I learned the hard way to cage new witch hazels. The bunny ate my fancy dwarf variety and it has taken a good three years to get it back to the size it was when purchased. Oh, well. Love that last shot.

    • bittster says:

      Three years is a long wait just to get back to where you started. Maybe it will all work out though, sometimes I think the vermin around here are more capable of making the pruning cuts I’m too timid to tackle. Perhaps my newly pruned witch hazels will now branch nicely from the base? -and of course above the graft line? -is that too much to hope for? 😉

  3. Lisa Rest says:

    I don’t have witch hazels to cage but I seem to have been taking forever to tend to what little I planned to control in my yard. Along with my denial, it is really quite shocking to find out it’a December already.

    • bittster says:

      Denial is a good thing. Much better than regrets! I’m glad to see you’re tackling a few updates such as Kouchibougac and the crows. Winter will cover up plenty of missed tasks, and April has a way of making it all promising again. Have a happy New Year!

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You can’t ignore bunnies. They sure won’t ignore you shrubs, flowers etc. Several of my friends make fun of me because I used to like bunnies so much and now a verbally abuse them every chance I get. All the furry little beasts that inhabit my garden regularly test my patience which is quite thin. That cyclamen is so pretty. If I had a patch like that I would make a daily tour of it while it was up and about. What a nice surprise is the little snowdrop. I will be curious about next year too. Will it appear at this time or will time bend it to its supposed real time to bloom??? The mystery deepens.

    • bittster says:

      I have to admit I still love the bunnies in spite of their new appetite for the more tender things in my yard.
      Just last week I noticed a good chunk missing from one of the new rose canes which should be full of bloom next June. Maybe I’ll have a stronger plant in 2021… although I’d really like to see my first flowers on that one next year 😉
      Voles I can’t stand. They really take advantage of me and I don’t mind the neighborhood cats at all when it comes to that.

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    I love your cyclamens – they are gorgeous!
    I think it was very nice of that snowdrop to bloom just for you – proof that ‘love grows.’ 😉
    Have a great week ahead and hope the storm isn’t too rough on you.

  6. Yikes, I forgot about the (new) witch hazel! Of course today’s weather is nasty in the extreme and so tomorrow will be my first opportunity to do anything. The squirrels have been having a field day digging up large areas everywhere, especially near the pines and bearded iris (why there??).

    • bittster says:

      I spent a few days on LI this past week, and the sunshine and warm temps were a treat. It was much nicer than Thanksgiving, and I got to enjoy the beach again, this time without a bulky coat and cold ears!
      I wish I could give a few of our hawks your address. The squirrels are far less brave (and numerous) around here!

  7. Chloris says:

    I didn’t know rabbits eat Witch Hazel, what expensive tastes they have. One if your cyclamen has very unusual pointy leaves. And you have your own home produced autumn snowdrop, how exciting.

    • bittster says:

      As I’m sure you know, wildlife often has an excellent sense for which plants in the garden are most treasured. A bird bored with the overflowing feeder made a point of plucking the petals off my little snowdrop treasure soon after I took that photo. Figures.

  8. Cathy says:

    Horrified at the thought of a rabbit eating my one precious witch hazel! I don’t think I’d be able to sleep!

    • bittster says:

      The rabbits are really pushing my patience this winter. I noticed some gnawing on the trunk of the larger witch hazel as well and I’m wondering what I did to offend them.
      Obviously there’s little hope for the blueberry bushes since I’m far too lazy to cage everything…

      • Cathy says:

        These kinds of pests do more than test my patience – the voles here reduced me to tears in my first few years!

      • bittster says:

        People who don’t have vole problems don’t even understand the damage they can do! Here they’re scarce, but in my parent’s garden they are relentless and have killed off trees and shrubs as well as any non-toxic bulb or perennial. Caging only slows them down until the inevitable breakthrough happens.

      • Cathy says:

        You are so right! I have had a lull in damage, but my male cat died last year (a great hunter, his favourite tasty morsel) and I have noticed more traces since he’s been gone. Fortunately there’s a lot in the garden now, so I’m more philosophical.

  9. Cathy says:

    Rabbits eat witch hazels? Oh dear, perhaps I’d better abandon the idea of planting a few. Hope your storm wasn’t too brutal. We have heavy winds forecast so the layer of mulch I put on the beds yesterday will probably be distributed across the whole garden now! The photo of deer on the beach is beautiful. And your cyclamen leaves too.

    • bittster says:

      We weathered the last storm just fine and of course now it’s the warmer temperatures which are causing concern. It’s always something isn’t it?
      I hope you still try and add a witch hazel in spite of the rabbits. They’re such a surprise when everything else is still so adamant about the winter being endless.

  10. Better late than never on the Witch Hazel. Looks like you’ve still got lots of Witch Hazel left. You’re right about winter being boring, especially that first part where everything is muddy and barren. I know, I know, seed heads grasses bark winter interest blah blah. But seriously, none of them hold a candle to a luscious, colorful flower.

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