Monday, February 25, 2008

February Garden ....

Hellebore, © Joan Z. Rough, 2008

When I moved to Virginia in 1979 I wasn't much of a gardener.
Having lived in northern climes for most of my life, I never would have guessed that the garden could be a thing of beauty in February .... in the winter! In Vermont my time was taken up with two children and a bit of farming. We had sheep and angora goats whose wool and mohair I learned to spin and then to weave and knit into useful bits of clothing and household items. We also had hens whose eggs we used ourselves and sold to neighbors. The only gardening I did back then was a huge vegetable garden which we enjoyed throughout the year in the form of canned and frozen goods still brimming with summer goodness. In February, the garden was covered with many feet of snow and the first sign of spring was mud season, followed by daffodils in late April or early May. I spent so much time in the vegetable garden that I had little or no time for flowers. Yes, I was a hippie, but I guess not a flower child!!

Hellebore, © Joan Z. Rough, 2008

But then we landed in Virginia. I sold my animals, the kids grew up, moved out and I fell in love with flowers, especially if they bloomed with snow on the ground. Because of our massive deer population, it's hard to keep vegetables growing. Last summer I planted tomatoes and sweet peppers and maybe harvested a half dozen red tomatoes and maybe 4 lovely green peppers before the deer found them. Though the deer also love flowers and shrubs, I'm learning what they don't like and am filling my yard with those things ... like the hellebores which also happen to bloom at this time of year along with camellias and yellow jasmine, often mistaken for forsythia. The daffodils are several weeks off. That the hellebores are drough tolerant is also a plus and I am envisioning planting many more. They are green most of the year with a drooping brown period in August, when most gardens in this hot climate are looking kind of ragged anyway.

Hellebore, © Joan Z. Rough, 2008

I think I may try a few more tomato plants this year, but will plant them very close to my front door where hopefully the deer won't want to approach. Can you tell that as the weather warms I'm getting all excited about working out doors? I don't think I've ever lost that urge to work with plants and even having animals. I still dream of having a few chickens again, but I don't know how they'd do with all the preditors that hang out around here. My son, Mark, has about 20 hens at the moment and is losing a few here and there to hawks. I think I'll stick with plants!


TopVeg said...

We have problems with deer, too. They have grazed our new strawberry leaves off to the soil & have just started on the spring cabbage! Everything has to be fenced - to avoid heartbreak!

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Lucy said...

Lovely flower pictures and a fascinating glimpse into your life.

Anonymous said...

If you like Hellebores especially those with Green flowers - You have to see the Heronswood Nursery collection which includes Helleborus x hybridus 'Phoenix'. Masses of olive green flowers with a burgundy margin bloom in early March.