Farewell Zone 7
A new USDA cold hardiness map was published around the end of Nov. 2023. It's official! Durham is now in Zone 8.I knew our winters have been milder and shorter, but I was still surprised. In my lifetime I've seen us move from 7a to 7b and now 8. What I would really like to see are more plants listed with a heat tolerance zone. I have had beautiful plants like fuschia, White Knight's Pearl fry once we got to summer. Resilience is really the key to success these days. The last few days we have had highs in the 30s with a predicted high of 70 by the end of this week, Jan 26th. Soon we should be back to highs in the 50s which is pretty "normal" for us.
Plenty of daffodils are peeking up and the hellebores are doing great. Can you see the honey bee in this photo? This was taken Jan. 26th. You will probably need to enlarge the photo to see him.
Jan. 10th Even the goldfinches are reacting to the return of the light. Their bright yellow hue is starting to return. That's a House finch with the red feathers.
These two birds certainly add some cheer to a winter's day.
A pristine crescent moon on Jan. 14th.
A couple of days later, we had a fiery sunset. The deciduous willow oaks allow a better view of the night sky in winter.
We covered the camellia japonica with bird netting on Jan 21st. Yesterday, I witnessed a squirrel tearing up a bud during our cold snap hence the protective netting. They don't actually eat them, but appear to give it a try. The netting did a great job last year. I'm very hopeful that we will have the bright pop of cherry red in March. We've already had some buds open during our mild winter.
With the quiet of the garden season we turn our sights to the interior of our home. I doubt if we are the only people enjoying watching the growth of an indoor amaryllis. This was a wonderful Christmas gift from our neighbors, Susan and John.
We made a few interior changes in early 2024. One was adding dining room curtains from the Annie Selke company in the Ines pattern. You already know the story of the "floor" hutch, but here's a photo with both the curtains and the hutch. I decided to keep the pale green poinsettia arrangement on the mantel until February. The star/snowflake hanging from the basket on the hutch was a handmade gift from our talented friend, Cheryl.
Jan 26th- The full glory of the amaryllis and the colorful curtains.
Our garden room in the back of the house faces North looking into the backyard. Ian painted the pine panels of our bookcase in Benjamin Moore Antique White to better highlight our various decor items which never see direct sunlight. The flash photography is making the "white" paint look much brighter than it really is. Antique White is the color on the living room walls that you see in the photo with the snowflake ornament. I might pick another color for the pine panels at a later date. I wanted to keep it neutral with a peachy undertone.
As we wait for Spring to arrive, let me show you a little preview. I had a backyard surprise this morning, Jan. 26th. This delicate patch of crocuses lit up an otherwise wet and dark morning. Last year this group bloomed even earlier, Jan. 19th. Nevertheless, it surprises me to see blossoms in January.
May your winter hibernation be peaceful with lots of visions for Spring! I'm already thinking of Valentine's chocolates. :)