Garden Diary - December 2009

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Tuesday, 10 December 2009
Winter Visit to the Leonard J. Buck Garden

I'm madam chairman for the Watnong chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. We're scheduling programs for next year. E-mail is great, but face to face meetings help engender ideas, options, and possibilities. With several people from here and there around New Jersey, it was easiest to hold the meeting at the Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills. We partner for the Earth Day plant sale held there, so it isn't like we're strangers. I let everyone know time and place, and baked some cranberry pecan muffins to sustain us in our labors. Happily, we got quite a lot accomplished, with time enough for a few of us to take a stroll around the grounds afterwards. It was sunny, somewhat chilly, and the remnants of last Saturday's snow in the shadier places.

There's a small cart near the building, always holding a seasonal bouquet.
Today it's mixed greenery, holly branches, and tawny old flowers, gone by.

Down the steps, pass Big Rock, and reach the edge of the open lawn, dusted with snow, as is the gazebo.
It is flanked with somber dark green yew and bright winterberry holly, its berries gleaming in the sunlight.

From there we take the new path that switchbacks across the slope, a very comfortable walk with
just a few steps here and there, and a wonderful Adirondack-style railing of peeled cedar logs.

It is December. Colder weather, and the first storm of a few days ago brought 2 to 3 inches of snow. Winter greenery of conifers
and rhododendrons. And here, at the top of the path, the attractive foliage of Cyclamen hederifolium. I don't think I've ever seen
two with quite the same markings on their leaves. The tubers send up flowers in late August, leaves in September, dormant in summer.

And, surprise, surprise, there were a few flowers to be seen. The trailing branches of Jasminum nudiflorum had
a scattering of sunny, scentless, yellow flowers. Running myrtle, Vinca minor also displayed the occasional blossom.

Another path, a different hill, and from the top a pleasant view back across the lawn to the pond and stream.

A misguided Primula sieboldii, confused as to season. Primroses mean spring.
Not so today, but even more welcome in its untimely display.

Back to the visitors center. An upright yew has its pot
swaddled in burlap. For good looks, better pot than plant.

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