Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let it snow!

Yesterday's snow has suddenly made me think wintry thoughts.
Over the years I've seen snow fall on Homewood several times and I've been lucky enough to get some lovely pictures of our nursery dressed in white.

In January of 2004 we got a nice dusting that was just enough snow to be really pretty but not too dangerous for us to close early.
Homewood Nursery in winter snow

This was before we relandscaped the atrium hillside. Looking back on it now it's neat to see how much it has changed. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that this winter I'll get to take pictures of the new landscape covered by snow.
Homewood Nursery in winter snow

The fishes in the courtyard pond had a thick layer of ice for insulation that year.

Homewood Nursery in winter snow

A few years before the 2004 snow (my computer records say December of 2002 but I don't think that's right) we had the heaviest snow I've ever seen at Homewood. Big, fat, fluffy flakes started to fall around lunchtime and by 2 o'clock I was wondering why I was still at work. There were no customers out and about so I sat in the nursery office and watched the birds and squirrels from the window. (From the following pictures it's easy to see how Homewood Nursery recently became a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.)
squirrel in snow

Many of the birds cooperated by posing on the railing just outside the window. Here, a chipper looking Tufted Titmouse says hi.

Tufted Titmouse in snow

A somber Junco tries to ward of the cold.
Junco in snow

This Thrasher is even more puffed up than usual. But he's not fat, he's just fluffy.

Thrasher in snow

And a jolly Towhee grabs himself a bite to eat.Towhee in snow

The suet cake is also a popular spot for hungry birds to hang out. Luckily there's enough to go around and
the female Red-bellied Woodpecker doesn't mind sharing her meal
with a male Downy Woodpecker.
female Red-bellied Woodpecker and male Downy Woodpecker

I was fortunate enough to capture this shy little Ruby-crowned Kinglet just before he flew away.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Possibly my favorite bird to photograph in the snow is our state bird, the Cardinal. Maybe it's because the bright red of the male's feathers stands out so well on a white background. Or maybe it's because they're so darned Chistmasy without even trying. Whatever the reason, I've taken pictures of a plethora of cardinals in snow.
But in order to keep from boring you, I've limited myself here to my favorite three. this perfectly posed bird against a background of Aucuba and red-twig dogwood.

Cardinal in snow

Our Canadian Hemlocks are so lovely with a bit of flocking and if you look closely you'll see that the red smudge in the middle is my red feathered friend.
Cardinal on canadian hemlock in snow

It's obviously not mating season since these two fellas seem content to perch near one another on adjacent branches.

two Cardinals in snow

What a great time of year for curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoying the nursery from the inside looking out. Since it's already snowed (a little) in Raleigh three times this year and it's only November, I think our chances are pretty good for some snowy photo-ops by winter's end.

by Christina, Assistant Nursery Manager

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Portland Garden Photos

Proof that you don't always want to choose the tree in the nursery with the straightest trunk.

More garden photos from my trip to Portland. If you ever go there be sure to visit the Portland Japanese Garden and the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. There were a few hundred garden writers moving around the gardens that day not to mention regular visitors. I felt a little bad for the regulars at the Chinese Classical Garden who had come in for a quiet contemplative cup of tea and found the place overun with people snapping photos as if their lives depended on (yours truly included).

More of the Fabulous Foliage Garden

Further pictures of Hardiman's Horticultural Haven:

Now that's a deck railing planter!

Shots from Iseli Nursery's stunning conifer and maple gardens. Iseli is one of the nation's best and well-known growers of conifers such as pine, spruce, false cypress, juniper, arborvitae, Japanese cedar and much more. Homewood buys from Iseli and the nursery staff is always interested to see what tasty treats will be unloaded from the delivery.

Peeking through from the inside of a living cave of weeping Canadian hemlock.

Portland's Japanese Garden. If you go to Portland, you must visit this place!

Some new and old friends and fellow "soil sisters" as my friend Pam says. (left to right, Pam Beck, author, Best Garden Plants for NC, Zika Wolfe, of Hoffmann Grasses, Tina Mast, of Homewood Nursery, and Margot Rochester, author, Earthy Delights).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fabulous Portland Gardens

Hi everyone,

I'm a lucky dog this week, touring Portland Oregon area gardens with the Garden Writers Association. This is my first time at one of these shin-digs and I am having a blast. Garden writers are a fun and friendly group and I have lots of cool plants, products, and books to show and tell about. For now, though, since it's just about past my bedtime, here are a few pictures from the home gardens we toured today in Portland. There's some striking differences between the gardens of Portland and the gardens of Raleigh. Of course, it's much cooler here so that influences plant selection. I have been pea green with envy all day at the dainty and exquisite fuchsias that abound in Portland gardens, among other horticultural delights. Portland gardens, many being on small urban lots, are small and often set on an incline so that they slope to the sidewalk and street. Many people have completly eliminated the front lawn in favor of rambunctious and lively plantings including a lot of edible plants. I saw a lot of tomato plants worked into garden beds.

-Tina, Communications Director

Hardiman's Horticultural Haven. I'd like one of each, please.

Part of the front gardens at Lauging Spirit Gardens.

This is definitely the most original potting table I have ever seen. Besides, the architectural remnants and the flowery porcelain sink, it also features a Spiderman action figure, an ET action figure, and a Will Rogers shot glass. I may not quite get it but it was certainly good for a mid-garden giggle.

Potted succulents at Lauging Spirit Garden

by Tina, Communications Director
Tina Mast Homewood Nursery

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Hal

We'd like to officially wish our co-worker Hal
a very happy 80th birthday.

Yep, that's right. 80!

We're always using words like "incredible", "amazing" and "inspiring" to describe Hal and if you've met him you'd agree.

He says he's retired but he's actually one of the hardest working employees at the nursery. Over the weekend we celebrated Hal's birthday with him, his family and friends. Here are some pictures of the festivities.

Here's to you, Hal! We wish you many more birthdays.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My favorite plant of the moment

Being an admitted plantnerd, it's easy for me to dork-out over almost any new shrub that comes to the nursery. But sometimes it can be hard for me to appreciate the more ordinary shrubs at first glance.

This was the case with Mardi Gras Abelia. Compared to
'Kaleidoscope' it isn't as golden and bright. Compared to 'Confetti' or 'Silver Anniversary' it isn't as crisply white-edged. As they sat there in the parking lot after we received them for the first time, I doubted if they would ever sell as well as the others. But ever since our Nursery Manager talked me into planting three Mardi Gras at my mailbox last winter I haven't been disappointed.

This is how they looked by June when they were starting to flower. Their variegation was fairly understated but the peachy pink highlights were really nice.

By early September they had exploded into a shower of lightly honey-scented blooms and, to my delight, those peachy pink tones now dominate the shrub. Every morning as I leave for work, the early morning sunlight makes the whole thing glow.

The flowers themselves aren't even the best part. It's the flower holders (or calyces) that provide the real show. And like most other Abelias, they'll stick around through winter, looking like little rosy stars, to remind me that spring, and a whole new set of blooms, is never that far away.

(I'll have to post another picture for your viewing pleasure then)

So now, nine months after planting it, I absolutely adore my Mardi Gras Abelia that I had to be talked into. Thanks Steve :)

by Christina, Assistant Nursery Manager