Friday, January 14, 2011

Long Live the King!

I write this on the 12th day of Christmas (for those more familiar with the song than the history, the Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Christmastide, are the festive days that begin with Christmas Day.) and yet it seems the holidays are long over. Odd? We are reminded of the season by some woodies still persisting with fruit. Certainly crabapples and winterberries (Ilex) come to mind but a recent installation of a green hawthorn down at the Golf Pro Shop atop Mountain Rest Road are cause for a second glance because of the startling red clusters of pome-like drupes. That last description sends botanists to the reference books!

Botanically this green hawthorn is Crataegus viridis 'Winter King', which is a charming selection of a native species. The elegant vase shape and larger fruit make this a "must have". We are so smitten with the tree that plans for our new Gatehouse landscape already include them.

In the northeast, the end of the holidays can be the beginning of our winter storm season. In a gardener's way, we welcome the fresh covering of snow, but not just for romantic snowshoe hikes or invigorating cross-country ski outings. There is nothing like a warm winter blanket for these chilly January nights, and the same applies to all those hardy perennials and biennials taking their long winters' nap. Snow cover is crucial for keeping the soil as temperate as possible and it protects the tender, sensitive leaves of popular biennials like foxgloves and Canterbury bells.

Well, Happy New Year to y'all. I'll be back on schedule with regular correspondence now that we are done decking the halls and dropping the balloons.



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