Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Winter Fog and First Signs of Spring

I've been known to have brain fog at times, which I'm told is commonly referred to as "fibro fog" and affects most people who have fibromyalgia. It's like your thoughts just can't maneuver their way through your brain and you're left searching for things that you know are "in there" but have gone into hiding. I know we all suffer from not being able to come up with names or words from time to time, but this is different. Trust me.

I wasn't in a fog yesterday though until I stepped outside. WOW. The fog that had developed overnight was of the pea soup variety. We'd had some freezing rain as well, so driving conditions were dangerous. I was scheduled to work and just as I was about to walk out the door, my phone rang and it was Renee, telling me that our boss had gotten ill and the morning patients were being canceled. WHEW!

The temperatures rose throughout the day, and with the snow on the ground, this created conditions that just made the fog worse. The official high for the day was 50° but our thermometer made it up to 54°. Since it was so warm, I grabbed the camera and headed outside.

Fog has a way of muting the colors to the point that the world appears to be in black and white. Any color you do encounter seems to be super-saturated and grabs your attention. Our Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris 'Robert Chapman') sure does that. This is one plant that is a kaleidescope of color through several seasons and right now it is a deep, deep scarlet that is impossible to capture in a photo. I could just sit and look at it for minutes on end.

While I was out there wandering around, I was joined by Jack...

He clambered up on the Morrow Honeysuckle, a favorite of all the kitties. It gives them an overall view of the garden and its ragged bark is perfect for claw sharpening. Being a tough native is a good thing, because they have shredded its bark in several places. Though it's on the list of invasive plant species for Ohio, we didn't plant it. It was already growing in the back corner of the property when we moved here and it's a rampant grower that we prune back hard every spring so as to keep it under control. The bees love it when it's in bloom.

There are lots of attractions in this garden for the cats. The small pond provides them with water to drink. The split rail fencing is another good spot for sharpening claws and practicing their balancing acts. And catnip grows there. Meow.

The cement bench is a favorite napping spot and gives good access to the Maiden Grass (Miscanthis sinensis 'Gracillimus'). It's a multi-purpose plant for me because it provides structure in the way of height and grace as well as winter interest. The cats like to munch on it, in spite of its sharp-edged foliage, and its swaying in the breezes makes for good play opportunities.

Robin, over at Robin's Nesting Place in Indiana, reported bluebirds being back, so I cleaned out the bluebird house last week. A family of wrens had a nest there last summer because we put the house up too late for the bluebirds. We'd not seen any bluebirds around here until last spring, so had not made any special provisions for them. Believe me, once we saw them, we ran right out and got a bluebird house and it's ready to go for them this year.

On the south side of our property, we have a short row of spiraea shrubs (Spiraea x vanhouttei). Last year, they were loaded with praying mantis egg cases - twenty or so. Yesterday, I counted 36. Some of those were leftover empty cases from last year (they turn black), but most of them were new. Looks like we'll have lots of praying mantids again this summer!

I walked back towards the house, past the half-tree where I planted a little fairy garden in what was left of the part we lost to a storm several years ago. Jack followed along and played lookout, just in case any dangerous looking creatures were out and about that we needed protection from.

The lamium planted there continues to grow, which I find amazing.

The Creeping Veronica (Veronica 'Blue Reflection') - also still green - has spilled out over its original boundaries and should look really pretty when it's blooming in blue late in the spring. This is a wonderful groundcover that spreads fairly quickly if it's happy in its location. I have it in mostly shade, right along with the lamium, some columbine, and English ivy.

Winding its way nicely up the remaining half of the oak tree, the ivy is wearing its winter colors and makes a nice contrast against the oak bark and the lichens growing on it.

With the rain and warm temperatures, most of the snow was gone this morning and we're now under a flood watch. I don't think there's immediate danger of that for us, but we are keeping an eye on the sump pump in our basement. We do not want another disaster like we had last August.

Just a few minutes ago, I went outside to see if any of the spring bulbs were coming up as they are doing in other zone 5 locations across the blogosphere and though I didn't expect to find anything...


Giant Mixed Crocus -
These very same crocuses didn't come up until March 6th last spring!

Double Snowdrops
(Galanthus nivalus plenus)

These were blooming on March 14th last year.

And here's the real shocker ... TULIPS!


Shady Gardener said...

What a wonderful post! It makes me want to get out there... guess I'll have to wait until morning. ;-)

Your Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris 'Robert Chapman')is drop-dead gorgeous! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful pictures. I love the kitty pics!! I've been so busy planning my new home that I haven't toured my current yard to see if I have babies sprouting up. If I do---they are going to the new house!!! Love your blog and seeing your personality come out in your writing.

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

So cool! You've got spring bulbs sprouting too!!!!! YAY!!!! I just took photos of mine and will be posting some time tomorrow on it. BTW, Jack is just plain adorable. Such a cute garden companion with a very watchful face. He's just the cutest. I really enjoyed this post! I've had a non-fibromyalgia brain "fog" problem this evening and your post really lifted my spirits. Thank you!

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Unknown said...

Mmmmmmmph! I'm going to go have a pout now. We're having more snow, mixed with rain and who knows what else, and that's on top of the ice and what-have-you that's already down. Sprouts? NO way. Not for a while. I'd even welcome fog.
Seriously though...lovely post, Kylee, and Jack was certainly at his most photogenic and adorable, wasn't he? Even without Jilly!

Anonymous said...

Your bulbs are coming up a month early? That's amazing. You have more coming up than I do, I think, and it's been 80 degrees here for the last couple of days.

Beautiful pics, by the way.

kate smudges said...

Your Scotch Heather caught my eye immediately. Is it ever an attractive plant! Then I went back and read about fibro fog - I was glad to hear that you didn't have to work today. Jack made a perfect companion - what a sweetie he is. He looks as if he's alert and on-the-ready to pounce on any intruder.

I can't believe how early your bulbs are coming up. We are buried under big mounds of snow. Every morning we are greeted by more snow. After a few weeks, it begins to really pile up. So no bulbs poking around here ... I'd sorely love to see some though.

I hope you are sound asleep and sleeping fitfully, waking refreshed tomorrow morning!

Ewa said...

Lovely walk with Jack - that's amazing thing they do while walking together :)
So you also have spring as we...
Thank you for nice words about aloe I ripped from friends plant :)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Woohoo Kylee, Spring is definitely coming soon in your garden too; crocus, snowdrops and tulips are all sticking their noses above ground already!

Oh that Jack, he's such a handsome fellow and cute as can be. He really loves that Morrow Honeysuckle and the Maiden Grass too.

Shirley said...

Hi there, Kylee :-)

Great post - I enjoyed the tour of your garden. Yes, tulips are also through the ground with me in Scotland - strange :-0

Barbara said...

It looks so similar here...daffodils, crocus and tulips sprouting but in spite of this early phenomen, I do not believe (yet) in Spring. We mostly had a bad surprise in March. So, I try (;-) !!) to be patient and wait...what is going on.
Have a good time, Kylee!

Frances, said...

Jack is a charming companion and good protector too. It is amazing that you have the bulbs up already. They may just sit there and bloom at your recorded time, but just knowing they are up and ready to go must bring joy.

Frances at Faire Garden

Nancy J. Bond said...

Thank you for showing us a glimpse of spring! As jodi can attest, it's been miserable here in NS, and just the sight of those little crocuses is so inspiring!

Jack is almost perfectly, bilaterally marked! What a handsome fella! The little dots by his nose are adorable. :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I am so jealous - you got to see your bulb sprouts! Mine are buried under an ever-increasing blanket of snow. We got well above freezing & even had rain, but there had been so much snow that it couldn't all melt. It's snowing, again... :( Lovely, foggy day photos.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

A lovely tour of your property. I can't believe you have so many bulbs popping up already. I'd be a little nervous about it as early as it is.

Glad to see you got the bluebird house ready.

I always liked praying mantids until they started catching my butterflies and trying to get the hummingbirds. I don't like them as well now.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I went out looking for crocus and found none. Booooo Your garden tour was so much fun Kylee. It is nice to have such a handsome escort through the garden. I am sure Jack was thrilled to have you all to himself.

I would like to invite that 'Robert Chapman' to my garden. I wonder if the Heather would do well here. I will look for it this spring.

Tom Arbour said...

Hi Kylee,

I especially love your first two shots of the fog. The landscape is so devoid of color that I first thought the images were black and white. Thanks for brightening up the day with signs of spring! I was just out in the woods and noticed that the invasive lesser celandine has popped up and leafed out along the floodplain of the Olentangy river. It is amazing how some plants get such an early start.


Kerri said...

We've had fog too, plus rain and plenty of ice. Snow is predicted for tonight.
Signs of spring..aren't they wonderful? I have some bulbs poking through too.
Love that Scotch Heather!!
Jack was enjoying your company :) Kitties are so good companions out in the garden.
Love those kitty pictures! :)

Jessica said...

Jack is such a cool cat!! haha....so cute and curious:) Here in the Columbus area, I have also noticed little bits of green popping up!! Nooooooo!! I was hoping the warm weather wouldn't get the bulbs all excited to come up!

Brianna said...

Your photo of the tree with the birdhouse is really striking.

I enjoyed the comparison of the color and black and white versions of the same image in your Feb. 6 post, too. The color detracts from the starkness of the image--b&w was a great choice.

Brianna (http://seeds.sunriseruby.org/)

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