Sunday, January 31, 2010

... the winter garden

pho from above

today was cold, grey, foggy and rainy. a perfect northwest winter day, if you ask me. making it the kind of day where you might feel inclined to put on your wellies and head over to the arboretum to take a muddy stroll through the winter garden.

pho steam

but not before warming up the insides with a bowl of steaming veggie pho from ballet. my favorite.


dubious fortunes and all.

winter garden at the arboretum


right now is really the best time to enjoy the winter garden. most of all, for the witch hazel, which has a scent that i can't get enough of. some think it smells too soapy, but not me. we planted a small fragrant witch hazel near our front door in the hopes that it will grow and give off a lovely fragrance that we can enjoy as we come and go from the house in the winter months. until we have more than a few blossoms, though, i'm going to have to rely on the plentiful witch hazel at the arboretum to satisfy my need. there are some spots where you can stand amongst the trees where the most amazing scents waft through the air to hit you from all directions. i can't get enough of it.

hamamelis flowers

also, you can't beat those spidery petals.


of course, the hellebore is coming up now. i have a thing for downturned flowers, too.


and there is the most beautiful lonicera that caught the raindrops so nicely.

redtwig dogwood

dogwood and black mondo grass

and you can't have a winter garden without dogwood. red and green are both striking against grey skies or a blanket of back mondo grass.


even some rhododendrons are starting to bloom. i've always found the bright, tropical look of the flowers so out of place here in the northwest. but it's our state flower, don'tcha know. go figure.


i'm also a fan of cyclamen. until this year i had no idea that, in addition to being quite lovely, also smells amazing... like a sweet, sweet rose.


and please forgive the blurriness, but i had to include some snowdrops, as they are c's favorite winter bulb. i agree, seeing the delicate white flowers come up in the middle of the coldest months is always so heartening. and, hello again, downturned petals!

the only thing missing from my afternoon was being able to warm up after our walk in front of a nice, warm fire. i had to settle for a cup of tea and some quilting, which fortunately isn't really settling at all.


  1. What an absolutely lovely walk! I had no idea that the northwest flora and fauna are so active in the winter months.

  2. Mmm, pho! How great it must be to take walks where you live. I also had no idea northwest gardens are still so lively in winter. It's interesting to look at gardening "zones" and see where your region falls into. One would think that, as far north as Seattle is, it would fall into a similar gardening zone as New England, but obviously you guys don't get sustained below-freezing ground temps in winter. I guess if you did, the winter rain and drizzle would more often fall as snow and sleet. Witch-hazel smells so good. I think there's something honey-like in the smell. It's such a great facial toner/astringent (w/o drying skin), and it's the best mosquito bite remedy.

  3. actually, this has been an unusually warm winter for us. after our brief cold snap in november, it has warmed up considerably. this past january was the warmest on record! so it's no surprise that flowers are popping up now and the greens are so very green.

    but still, seattle is really a wonderful place for winter plant life. every year i do marvel at how much there still is to enjoy (while secretly wishing i lived somewhere where it snowed more.)

  4. El Nino! As for getting more snow, you'd love it over here this winter. We're supposed to get 2 feet (!!) this weekend, and it's starting to remind me of sophomore year at college, when the snowstorms seemingly came through one after another, if my memory serves me well. The thing is, we here never see it in these amounts.

    Meanwhile, I'll continue to marvel at how the cherry blossoms appear so early in Seattle. I really do love your part of the country as well. I'm not trying to flatter you, but it's really so delightful that you enjoy nature so much--because it's a treat to come here and see how you capture those little details here and in pictures.