December in the Garden

It is unusual for me to be working in the gardens so late in the year. Our fall was a long and warm one; and especially dry until now. We’ve had a weird blossoming of crab, forsythia, and other early wood buds. I guess that means the spring will be different, too.

Fall blooms on forsythia plant
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) will sometimes bloom in fall if the plant has undergone excessive stress. Those blooms will not appear again in spring.

The oak trees are still holding their leaves, which is usual; but there are other varieties that have been slow to drop.

Buckthorn leaves still green in December
Buckthorn shrubs may be the last to drop their leaves

This common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) typically holds its leaves until late fall, but I don’t remember it being green in December. Buckthorn is an invasive species here in Ohio. The dark berries of the shrub seem to fall prolifically in the summer.  I’ve stained my shirts and shoes numerous times as I’ve work under its branches.

Our first frost was last week, and we got a dusting of snow following it. I’ve had plenty of time to get the beds cleaned up, yet somehow I didn’t quite get it done!

peony hoops used as sedum stakes
Peony hoops are getting a workout this year, from peonies, to sedum, to deer protection.

There are still window screens to take down, pots to clean out,  and the fountain to drain.

garden fountain with leaves, iced over
the frozen leaves in water remind me of a gelatin salad.

Our unusual fall weather brought with it some monster winds as cold fronts and warm fronts clashed. As a result, we have lots of firewood.

cut and stacked wood
After Dutch elm disease and Emerald ash borer, dead trees are part of our landscape.

The storms knocked down many trees around the area. Luckily, nothing hit our house, but a little “project” sailboat in the back yard took a fatal hit.

trees blown down by 100 mph winds
100 mph winds snapped many trees.
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Sail away!

Though much of the yard and surrounding wood have turned to brown or tan, there are bright spots. Berries of the Barberry bush (Berberis vulgaris) are striking against the neutral palette.

barberry berries
Barberry berries are a food source for birds, and can be used in cooking.

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) doesn’t seem to mind a dusting of snow in winter.

snow-in-summer dusted with snow
snow-in-summer in winter

That’s it for December’s garden. What do you have “growing on?”


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4 comments

  1. I too wonder what spring will be like. In fact the whole year. The pattern is different. A lot of outside of the norm events. This past summer had a very wet first half and a very dry second half. I suspect it played havoc with the farmers too messing up planting and harvest times. And of course affecting the yield of the harvest too.

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