Six on Saturday: Evergreen

Helleborus

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By January autumn’s leaves have mostly fallen and anything evergreen dazzles in the fleeting winter sun.  I anticipate this quiet time of the year when one can see deeply into the roadside woods, admiring the stands of pines, hollies, Magnolias and myrtles normally hidden from view by the leafy, growing forest.

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American Holly surrounded by pines.

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After the year’s many colorful extravagances, the restful simplicity of bared bark, buff leaf litter and glowing evergreens stands in elegant contrast to the other seasons’ beauties.

At home, too, evergreen perennials peek through the fallen leaves, a deep emerald green.  Pointy ivy leaves scramble across the ground and spill from pots on the patio.  Fresh, wrinkled Helleborus leaves emerge from the chilled earth embracing stems of unfolding flowers.

What a delight to see these winter treasures braving the worst weather of the year, unflinching under a frosty glaze.

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Mahonia aquifolium

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Our Mahohias stand crowned with golden flowers this week.  Filled with nectar, they feed native bees and other pollinators who venture out on warmish days.  As we admired a particularly lush stand of Mahonia this morning, a brilliant red cardinal dropped out of the sky to land on its uppermost branch.  Perhaps it was looking for its breakfast, too.

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Camellia sasanqua

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Yucca and German Iris, rosemary, parsley, thyme, Arum and tiny Cyclamen leaves soak up the sun and stand resolute in the face of winter.  A well planned garden needs these touches of evergreen to carry us through until spring.

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Thyme

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No blazing summer Dahlia will ever touch me in the same way as richly green Arum, melting the snow around itself, its leaves unmarred by ice.

These loyalest of garden plants remain with us through the difficulties of winter, inspiring us with their fortitude and blessing us with their beauty.

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Arum italicum shines from late autumn into May, when it quietly fades away. This European native produces enough heat to attract insects and protect itself in freezing weather.  Here, with emerging daffodil leaves, Vinca minor and Saxifraga stolonifera.

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Woodland Gnome 2020

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

8 responses to “Six on Saturday: Evergreen

  1. Wow! That is some mega holly! I have not seen an American holly since the late 1980s. If I had encountered it since then, I was not aware of it. It is neither popular nor native int the West. Anyway, I am sorry I missed all these two and a half weeks ago. I skipped ahead to February 5 because I am so far behind.

  2. Monica MacAdams

    Hi, there’s a plant in my backyard (it was here when I moved in 10 years ago) that looks a lot like s mahonia, but it keeps growing taller (robably at least 4 feet tall now). Is it more likely a type of holly? Thx for any guesses!
    Monica

    • Hi Monica, Mahonia is often called Oregon grape holly because of the shape of its leaves and the prickles on its leaves. While holly flowers are tiny and emerge along the branches, between the leaves, Mahonia flowers are bright yellow, clustered together on small stems that emerge at the top of each trunk. Mahonia will grow to 5-10 ft. tall, depending on whether you have the species or one of the hybrids or named cultivars. The Mahonia leaf is larger than a holly leaf, and they grow opposite from one another along each branch. Mahonia will naturalize. Birds spread their seeds, which grow in small purple or blue fruits that look like little grapes. I hope that gives you enough clues to identify whether your shrub is a holly ( Ilex) or a Mahonia. 🍀

    • Anonymous

      Thx so much. My first instinct was that it was mahonia, which i’ve long admired, but never planted because someone told me it was plagued by a virus (or some such ailment). However, the specimens I’d seen at nurseries over the years had spreading branches, and were quite low to the ground…and had bunches of dark blue/purple “berries” (thus the Oregon Grape name). My plant is tall and narrow, and doesn’t seems to produce the berries, but the leaves and flowers at the top of the “trunk” match those of the mahonia. Maybe it hasn’t been getting enough sun; time may tell, because I had to remove a gigantic tree from the backyard last summer (a victim of the ash/borer). The garden will remain shady, but perhaps the mahonia will perform more “normally” with a little more sun? Thx again! Love your blog! PS I use a lot of Helleborus (choices in my shady, deer-plagued garden are limited, so I keep adding things that seem to thrive); also have 3 camellias; haven’t yet tried the arum itlaniana (oops, i’m sure I muffed the name), although I’ve always loved the leaves…never much liked red blooms…but maybe I should re-think. Thx so much again!

    • Monica MacAdams

      Hi again,
      I just posted a long reply to your kind and very helpful response, but don’t think it “went through.” I won’t attempt to repeat the entire thing…but do want to thank you. I will, however, repeat that I love your blog!
      Monica

      • Thanks so much, Monica. It came through just fine, but as ‘someone,’ not with your name. There are several species of Mahonia and a number of cultivars on the market. They each perform a little differently. They grow well in the shade, but can take the sun and bloom more generously with the sun. Accepted wisdom says that deer won’t graze Mahonia. Our deer eat the flowers when they get the chance, however. We rarely get to the berries, and if so, the birds enjoy them as soon as they ripen.

        • Monica MacAdams

          Thx again (and again and again). I promise I won’t bother you (yet-again)…at least not for another few months, when I start going really crazy (crazier than usual) trying to figure out ideas for spring-planting.
          PS never thought about the birds (getting to the mahonia berries before I even notice them); if that’s the case, it’s ok with me…certainly way better than the deer, who so far seem to have had the same trouble recognizing the mahonia as I have. This year, I’m going to spread lots of Milorganite, which I understand deer don’t like…and hope that helps…haha, and dream on!

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