by Leslie Cox; Saturday; January 6, 2018

As you can imagine, there is not a whole lot happening in the garden at this time of year.

However, if you take a moment to look, there are some signs of life.

Freezing rhododendronThe two big rhodos at the end of our driveway caught our eye one afternoon. They are both loaded with fresh buds…a blessing after a long summer of hauling out the hose and bailing dish water in order to keep them hydrated through our drought period.

This had us checking for fresh buds on other rhodos and azaleas in the front garden. And there are…even though the freezing temperatures have the rhodo leaves drooping to protect themselves from dessication! It all points to a dazzling display for us come late April and early May.

Baby bunnyAnother day this week, I noticed conspicuous footprints in the back garden on a trip to the compost. Rabbit. I had nipped outside without my jacket so did not tarry long but did enough of a walkabout to see the rabbit had made a reasonable circuit of our back yard. Did not pinpoint where it had breached our fence line, though. Must get back out there for a better reconnoiter so as to secure our defenses against further bunny incursions. We were lucky this time as there was no sampling of our plants. (Photo to the left is of a baby bunny who managed to squeeze through our fence two springs ago.)

repaired hibiscus treeAlso in the back garden…thankfully the rope job around the branches of our twenty-five year old hibiscus tree has thwarted any further snow damage. So far. Last year’s near record snowfalls and below normal temperature lows almost did this poor tree in. At one point last February, all of its branches were pretty well lying flat on the ground. It was horrific.

Some judicious pruning and with the help of a rope, the tree looked like it would survive as new buds started to appear last spring. We kept it watered through the drought last summer and John re-positioned the rope for better snow load protection through this winter. So far, we have not had as much snow as last year. Fingers crossed. This spring will be the tell-all on whether the hibiscus stays in our garden, or if we will be forced to remove it.

And with that depressing thought…time to immerse myself in the latest seed catalogue to arrive in the mail. A peruse always perks me up. Excitement is building as we creep closer to the arrival of the new gardening season. Stay tuned for my list of what seeds you can start very soon! (Word to the wise…if you do not have any grow lights set up indoors, you may want to think about the possibility. Otherwise, you are waiting for the soil to warm up enough outside for seed sowing.)