Early February Finds

Liriope muscari variegata in February

In Toronto, late January and early February often brings on garden blues, especially when warm, snowless weather reveals the debris of the previous growing season before the new season is even on the horizon. In England, this is the time of hellebores, witch hazel, primulas and other harbingers of spring. No such luck here. Snowdrops are still weeks away. In trying to dispel my gloomy mood, I took my camera out into the garden. Here is some of  what caught my eye:

Clematis terniflora in crab apple

I’m a big fan of clematis. Their contribution to the winter garden is often overlooked. Most have curled seed heads that remain attractive through the fall and well into winter. Clematis terniflora is particularly satisfying in this regard. And because of its habit of self-seeding, there are sure to be several spots around the garden where the fluffy cascades can be admired.



Panicum virgatum in mid-winter

This clump of Panicum virgatum is in front of a yew hedge. Although somewhat battered by many weeks of winter snow and rain, the inflorescences still sparkle against the dark background.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

‘Morning Light’ Miscanthus is one of the airiest maiden grasses and is shy with its blooms. It is grown for the fineness of its variegated leaves that move in the slightest wind. Their wonderful swirling continues to be attractive in winter. It makes a good companion for a “Pee Gee” Hydrangea because it leavens the heavy blooms of the shrub. Their colour in winter is almost identical.

Daphne transatlantica with stonecrop in mid-winter

The combination of orange-brown sedum seed-heads and blue-green winter foliage of the daphne is the most dramatic phase of their pairing. The daphne is covered in fragrant white blooms in spring and sporadically later in the season. But it is as an evergreen foliage plant that it really stands out. In spring and summer the sedum foliage beside the daphne also has a blue cast, making a subtle contrast with the finer crisp leaves of the daphne. Then, when it blooms, the pinkish tone and diffuse texture of the stonecrop makes a romantic harmony. As a swan-song, the winter display is eye-catching in a way that the pairing never was during the growing season.