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Signs of Life in the December Garden

December 1, 2009
The Little Flower that Could (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) In some years, my garden would already be under a blanket of snow by December 1. But this year, we’ve had an unusually mild November, and despite frost and freezes, there are still many signs of life in my garden.

 

Most surprising is this Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ flower, blooming on an otherwise brown and withered plant. I have been thinking of this as “the little flower that could.”

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ still has some color in its flower/seed heads Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
New growth on Sedum matrona (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) …and Sedum ‘Matrona’ is getting a head start on next year’s growth.

During the mild temperatures of November, a number of plants have put up new growth,

including Linum ‘Perenne’ New growth on Linum 'Perenne' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
New growth on Geranium x cantabrigiense (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) … and Geranium x cantabrigiense

Green sprigs of rosemary and thyme are still peeking out through a blanket of fallen leaves,

Rosemary and Thyme (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

and the evergreen foliage of rhododendron is looking lively in temperatures above freezing.

Rhdodendron foliage (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Rhododendron foliage (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
In the cold, this one will conserve its energy by drooping, and this one will curl its leaves so tightly that they’ll look like needles.
Soon, these signs of life will disappear beneath winter snows. But, for now, they are a welcome treat in the December garden.

 

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 3:47 pm

    Even a sleeping garden under a blanket of snow will have signs of life. Fascinating, the adaptations plants make to cold, usually easier to tolerate than heat.

    We spent time winter-proofing the outdoor water lines and faucets today. It’s coming, cold’s coming!

    • Jean permalink*
      December 1, 2009 4:49 pm

      I can’t see the signs of life under the snow in the winter (although I sometimes get some great animal life on top), but it’s fun to watch things begin to emerge as the snow melts away from the foundation in March. A couple of years ago, when we had very heavy snow in the winter, I actually had green sprigs of parsley emerge in the spring (not a plant that usually winters over here). Truth be told, I love all the seasons in the garden.

  2. December 1, 2009 4:39 pm

    Lovely little flower that could, amazing what plants can do. 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      December 1, 2009 4:52 pm

      Rebecca, I keep wondering when that little flower is going to get the message about winter. Last night, temperatures here went down to about 20 F, but there it was still hanging on this morning.

  3. December 1, 2009 7:13 pm

    Your pictures are wonderful. it is so cool that we still have new growth. The daises we transplanted three weeks ago have loads of new growth.

    jim

    • Jean permalink*
      December 1, 2009 7:59 pm

      We know it won’t last, Jim, but it is fun!

  4. December 1, 2009 7:33 pm

    So you’re having a mild [so far] late fall too, Jean? Interesting that this is the case here, across the continent as well, although it’s fairly typical for us. I love your persistent bloomers!

    • Jean permalink*
      December 1, 2009 8:03 pm

      Grace, I am charmed by that persistent bloomer, even if the idea of having even one flower in a Maine garden in December is a bit bizarre. Of course, because it’s Maine, people are starting to worry a bit that we won’t get snow soon. This is a part of the world where December weather forecasts can begin with the words, “Good news in the forecast tonight; a significant snow event is headed our way.” Many of us actually like winter. 🙂

  5. December 1, 2009 8:12 pm

    How great that you still have some blooms to show in December. I always get so excited when the new sprouts start to come!!

    • Jean permalink*
      December 2, 2009 8:51 am

      Mary Delle, It is fun to see new growth at this time of year, and I can’t believe that little yellow flower is still hanging in there. Our weather has been so atypical for this entire gardening season, I’ve come to expect surprises.

  6. December 2, 2009 6:43 am

    Thats great to know that there are lot of plants hanging out there in your december. Linum is used extensively in our winters for making sweet balls to keep warm. Sedums are looking pretty as well.

    • Jean permalink*
      December 2, 2009 8:55 am

      Muhammad, my focus at this time of year is usually on the magnificent pine and hemlock woods that surround my house, but it’s a treat to have things going on in the garden, too. I’d love to learn more about sweet balls. Today, I’m wearing a silk and linen sweater, perhaps in honor of that new growth on the linum. 🙂

  7. December 2, 2009 12:39 pm

    Who would guess that December had arrived in your garden? It is so beautiful. I like that the little Rudbeckia bloom is blissfully ignorant of the time of year.

    • Jean permalink*
      December 3, 2009 10:57 am

      Noelle, when I got up yesterday morning, temperatures were in the upper teens, the rhododendron leaves were drooping or curled up tight (depending on their tendency), and the rudbeckia bloom was hanging limply at the end of its stem. But then, a few hours later, the temperature warmed up to about 30F and that little flower perked up again. I really don’t understand what is keeping it going!

  8. December 2, 2009 2:44 pm

    The Rudbeckia is very pretty. While yellow flowers are very common in Spring they can really show to advantage at this time of year when the colour glows on a dull day.

    • Jean permalink*
      December 3, 2009 11:00 am

      My usual color in the garden in December is the green of conifers. Any flowers here in December are amazing.

  9. December 2, 2009 3:16 pm

    Jean,
    Pretty amazing weather we’ve been having. I was just noticing today that there are buds on my honeysuckle vine. How strange! But, I’m certainly not going to complain. Beautiful Rudbeckia bloom!!

    • Jean permalink*
      December 3, 2009 11:07 am

      Yes, the weather is amazing, but very strange indeed! Yesterday, I drove down to visit my mother in Rhode Island. When I left Maine in the morning, the temperature was 30F and by the time I got to RI 4 hours later, it was in the upper 50s. Last night, a big rain storm blew through; and this morning I stepped outside my brother’s house (where I stay when I’m down in RI), and the temperature was about 70F. Say what???

  10. December 4, 2009 12:08 am

    I too have enjoyed this mild november and see my plants trying to make a come back far too soon. It should make the winter go by a bit faster!

    • Jean permalink*
      December 4, 2009 9:36 pm

      Teresa, they’re predicting several inches of snow for this part of Maine tomorrow night, so that should make it seem more like December (both to me and to the plants!)

  11. December 4, 2009 8:55 am

    I’ve just discovered your garden through Blotanical. I’m so happy to find another good New England Blog. I’m in the hills of Western Massachusetts where it gets pretty chilly – although not this year. So far, but now I’m worried about a long cold Spring! I hope you’ll visit me and my GIVE AWAY. The Perennial Care Manual and 2 doz CowPots could be yours for leaving a comment.

    • Jean permalink*
      December 4, 2009 9:36 pm

      Thanks for visiting. I’ll make it a point to visit your blog as soon as I can.

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