Thursday, January 21, 2010

The floral wonders of a Winter Garden.

So I've compiled a few photos on my Flickr page and I'm in the processes of composing a short video set to cheesy classical music of images I took this past weekend when I spent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day strolling through the rich and delightful aromas and bright colors that the Witt Winter Garden showcased on a mild, surprisingly sunny Seattle day.

Winter Garden Visitors

I was so pleased to see so many people coming to visit the UW Botanic Garden's Washington Park Arboretum. From dog walkers, joggers, couples, and lonely loners like myself, no one can't ignore the magic that takes place in the middle of winter when we have a rare sunbreak and growth and color appear out of nowhere. The eyes are tantalized and the nose is tickled with the fresh aromas permeating the air.

One of the stars of this fragrance frenzy is Hamamelis mollis, which was just starting to unfurl its filament-like petals of the richest yellow hue and a most delicious scent. As you approach the winter garden from the Graham Visitor's Center, it is the first yellow blooming plant to your left.

Hamamelis mollis

There are more Hamamelis to be found as large specimens create such a dramatic, yet lightly airy display of delicate blooms.

Hamamellis in foreground

Mahonias were in peak bloom as they spill their petals to the ground creating a bright yellow carpet. This statuesque beauty is M. 'Arthur Menzies'. It was in full dramatic bloom and I witnessed a hummingbird or two savoring the rich deposits of nectar in each flower.

Mahonia flowers close up

One scent that is near and dear to my heart is the potent, rich and sensually sweet scent of Wintersweet, botanically known as Chimonanthus praecox. A native to China, where they're often sold in bundles for indoor forcing during the wintertime, these woody plants and, even its flowers, aren't them most attractive in the landscape, but the aroma is captivating and almost mouth-watering.

Chimonanthus praecox

Another endearing fragrance is the rare and not always so cold hardy, Daphne bholua.

Daphne bholua

The dip into the teens certainly caused a bit of damage to the generally evergreen plants. The amount of leave loss was tremendous, but the flowers still appeared. Generally starting to bloom around Christmas, this species from the Himalayas is highly prized by collectors and the bark is used for paper making.

These are just some highlights I wanted to share. I hope the video comes out alright, but there's really no substitution for visiting the garden yourself and experiencing the sights and smells that will just linger with you long after your visit!

See the rest of the photos on my Flicker "set" labelled. UWBG Winter Garden 2010


  1. Hi Riz~~ I had completely forgotten to check my Chimonanthus. Thank you for the reminder. I've found that the shrub isn't half bad in summer if I keep it sort of artfully pruned. It is so worth having for its performance this time of year.

    Looks like a beautiful, refreshing walk through the gardens.

  2. I'm following you on my Google reader and so impressed with the types of plants you have and def inspired. :) I'm proud of you my friend!! -carol w.

  3. You have to be careful about pruning Chimonanthus because you could potentially be pruning off next year's buds and blooms.

    One solution for it's otherwise untidy habit is to grow a vine, like a deep purple/blue clematis through its branches!