Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hope is on the horizon

Here on the rainy side of the Pacific Northwest, January is a dark, dreary month.  The days are still short, and clouds and rain are near-constants.  Most of my gardening this time of year is of the armchair variety--poring over seed catalogs, reading back issues of garden magazines, and imagining the perfect garden that will, of course, never exist.  We had a rare sunny winter day yesterday, though, so I was able to weed two large flowerbeds and plant some poppy seeds.  I also spent a few minutes outside with my camera.  My yard seems nearly barren except for the evergreen trees, shrubs, and ferns, and spring seems a long way off.  If I look closer, however, I see the first signs of spring.  Here--let me show you:

Hellebores are the earliest-blooming plants in my garden.  It's such a delight to see some color on these dark days. 
Hellebore ready to bloom


The vegetable garden isn't a complete wasteland.  Here's some garlic, along with a couple of winter weeds I was too lazy to pull:
Garlic and a couple weeds

Continuing with the edibles, both the red and green rhubarb are breaking ground:
Red rhubarb breaking ground

Green rhubarb breaking ground

The woodland garden is beautiful even in winter, because the sword ferns look fresh and green:
Winter view of my creekside woodland

I don't know what those mysterious red berries are.  They grow on wild vines that I keep mostly pulled, but I let a few stay so I can enjoy the berries in winter.  Here's a closeup:
Mysterious vine with red berries

And then there are the spring bulbs.  Daffodils and Spanish bluebells are just starting to break ground:
Daffodils and Spanish bluebells breaking

And finally, filbert catkins grace the winter landscape:
Filbert catkins

It's still winter, but the days are getting longer, and the first plants of spring are pushing sleepily through the sodden soil.  Hope is on the horizon...


Jane/MulchMaid said...

Janet, thanks for visiting my blog!
I would love to have the color in my garden you have in your hellebores. I have just one, and it's white. I'll remedy that this year, for sure.
Those pretty red berries look to me like belladonna, a.k.a. deadly nightshade. You might want to get additional input on ID-ing them, especially if you have children of the age to pop one in their mouths.

Janet said...

I get deadly nightshade in the garden from time to time, but this thing is different. It's a big vine covering many feet. It smells funny, which makes me think it could be in the nightshade family. I'll try to take a picture of the leaves this spring.

Rose said...

Hi Janet,
For what it's worth, I have a degree in plant biology from the UW, and I'm pretty sure your photo is of deadly nightshade aka bittersweet nightshade, aka belladonna. It can grow in many different habits (shrub, vine, small perennial). I had a huge woody vine of it growing up my pear tree when I moved into my home. Here's King County's link of invasive species describing it You might want to replace it with a native berry because it can be very hard to manage in addition to posing a degree of hazard. Thanks for the lovely blog.

Janet said...

Rose, thank you! You're right - that's it. I didn't know to search for bittersweet nightshade, and I couldn't find any pictures of the vine form. I'll do my best to get rid of it, now that I know it's invasive.