Garden Photo of the Day

Finding the highlights of early winter in Jeff’s Tennessee garden

Jeff Calton makes it his mission to go outside and find something wonderful to see in his garden, even when the snow is falling, the ice is slippery, and the temperatures are frosty. This is his latest installment. He says, "2014 is almost gone but the garden is still full of surprises and color IF you look for it. After blowing leaves out of the beds some things gave us a show we weren't expecting. There are 3 hellebores that always flower for Christmas with the rest waiting until the end of February, the Winterberry holly always shines in a leafless world, the Leucothoe 'Girard's Rainbow' truly is a rainbow, and the gaultheria is always beautiful, as well as tasty. There is plenty out there to enjoy anytime of the year, not just May through October." You've inspired me to take a walk around my slushy garden, Jeff. Thanks!

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  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 12/09/2014

    Jeff great images as usual. I too love to take a walk through my gardens despite the weather conditions. I am always surprised by something,in fact we have a Helebore that is blooming a little early this year and our Camelia is also early this year the earliest it has bloomed in 25 years,do you think we can blame it on climate change?We had balmy weather this morning,it's been nice to have it warm up a little. Did you put your wreath together? We have had several wind storms lately and I took each of my Grandchildren on separate walks several days apart and we collected arm loads of downed greens, cones and branches with lichen and moss I was able to put together a beautiful wreath. Jeff thank you for your photos I always enjoy your gardens.

    1. user-1020932 12/09/2014

      there are 3 Hellebores that always flower at this time the others don't show off until end of February. i did not make that wreath it's a B B Barns special my fingers are too fat and fumbly to do things like that anymore. the sasanqua camellias are finished here so no more camellias until late winter/early spring. i wish more people grew Gaultheria,,, it's a great little plant and those berries are delicious

    2. perenniallycrazy 12/10/2014

      Please post a photo of your wreath =). Would love to see your work.

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 12/10/2014

        Sorry it was dark when I took these so none of them are very good but you get the idea. I added no ribbons or bows because I wanted it to be all natural and from all of the things we collected,I love doing this,can't tell but it really is pretty. Wish I had daylight to take the photo,and I won't have daylight before I leave tomorrow. I took three photos it was pretty dark out.

        1. GrannyMay 12/11/2014

          Love your wreath! I took the liberty of lightening up your photo a bit so the details would be more visible. Hope you like the result. Scrounging bits and pieces from the garden to use for a wreath or an arrangement is my favourite way to decorate. Merry Christmas!

          1. Nurserynotnordstroms 12/13/2014

            I love it. You are to sweet. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas to you too

        2. perenniallycrazy 12/11/2014

          Sweet! Thanks for inspiring me to do the same. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  2. perenniallycrazy 12/10/2014

    I have to thank Jeff for heightening my appreciation of garden delights during the coldest and dreariest months of the year. Your perennials featured today are some of my favorite workhorses in the garden - the Hellebores, Gaultheria procumbens, Leucothoe and Ilex - silent beauties that wait patiently to shine when all else has faded away. I do always appreciate the early flowers of the nonstalked hellebores in the garden - especially Josef Lemper and Jacob; though honestly, I can't ever tell them apart. Those in the our garden flower sometimes as early as November. Gaultheria do well in containers and look great all year round - whether it be just the foliage, with its white flowers or red berries. Has anyone ever tried making tea with them?

    1. user-1020932 12/10/2014

      Cherry you are the most eloquent and gracious gardener i know! i want you to write a book just so i can read your words

    2. GrannyMay 12/10/2014

      I have made jam from the berries of Gautheria shallon, another one of our native shrubs. Will have to try the tea from the G. procumbens sometime.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/10/2014

    Well, Jeff, you are definitely a good influence on all of us here at gpod....raising our appreciation for the 4 season garden. Amazing how those gentle nodding flower buds in your first picture aren't daunted at all with the coming of winter...they are just getting their party started! And I love how vibrant and celebratory the red berries are from both the Winterberry holly and the gaultheria....definitely giving off a holiday vibe.

    1. user-1020932 12/10/2014

      Mike, i'm outside in the garden everyday,,,,,,,,either mine or someone else's and find a surprise at every turn it amazes me that even in the worst of times there is something out there

  4. GrannyMay 12/10/2014

    Jeff, I do agree that there is always something beautiful happening out in the garden. You have an appreciative eye for shapes and textures and know where to look. Aside from the strikingly bright berries, winter beauty may be more subtle, hidden from the casual glance.

    1. user-1020932 12/10/2014

      May i get "hungry" to see garden things in winter so i search for it , sometimes i have to crawl about but i always find something.... at this stage of my life getting down on the ground is easy but getting up,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,not pretty at all

      1. GrannyMay 12/10/2014

        Jeff, I no longer crawl about at all,,,,,,,,, for the same reason!! :)

        1. sheila_schultz 12/10/2014

          I'm just the opposite... my back is so much happier when I am on my knees in the garden. My dear neighbor brought me a pad because it caused him so much pain to see me on my knees ;)

  5. user-6841468 12/10/2014

    these pictures make me smile! love the wreath... i'll have to go check my hellebores and do i miss having gaultheria! well done.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/10/2014

    Beautiful vignettes, Jeff. It does seem that there is always something that looks good in the garden all year, even if it is just snow on stems. I bought Helleborus "Jacob" a couple of years ago, excited for the white blooms, but since it wants to bloom in January here, the flowers freeze. :( I keep hoping it will adapt!

  7. wGardens 12/10/2014

    Those Hellebores are wonderful! How special to have some blooming early extending the season! Jeff, as usual, great photos. You are creator and caretaker of one of my favorite gardens... always a treat to see your gardens through your camera. That is a great container, by the way!

  8. sheila_schultz 12/10/2014

    It's always a delight to see bits of nature through your lens, Jeff. 'Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder' certainly applies to you. Thank you, as always.

  9. GrannyCC 12/10/2014

    Lovely photos Jeff. It is wonderful to find little surprises all year round. I have had a yellow Rhodo blooming last month. Don't know its name as it was a super market special with no tag. Hope it blooms in the Spring. I am amazed that your succulents are still going strong.

  10. greengenes 12/10/2014

    Thanks for showing us some color today, Jeff. Yes, I so agree that there is always something going on in our gardens year round! There is so much hope in a garden! I find iam without these two beautiful red berried plants, but not for long! Thanks for sharing and happy winter to you!

  11. schatzi 12/10/2014

    Beautiful, as always, Jeff. what is the "hen' that is exploding with chicks in the 8th picture? It is lovely. I really love succulents - beauty, variety and bullet-proof! I also love Hellebores and have collected a dozen or 2 the last few years. My Jacob has been blooming since Thanksgiving, but 2 others started mid-summer for some reason and are still going. The nursery where I buy them told me it has happened several times this year. Strange! The wreath is beautiful. I love the way the pine swirls around in a circle. And the red ribbon! The pansy is bright and pretty. Mine froze in our cold snap. Now we have what the meteorologists call the Pineapple Express - warm (60) and wet. Living near the Pacific Ocean we can always count on surprises in our weather. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Yesterday we had down pours interspersed with bright sunshine and blue sky...but not for long. I sympathize with you on the ups and downs of gardening as we age. Down isn't too bad, but as you say, up is a challenge. NNN, what I can see of your wreath is beautiful. Nicely done. Cheers, everyone.

  12. ginamichel 12/10/2014

    Thank you for the reminder that there's always beauty in the garden, sometimes we just need to look a little more closely. I love the violas and your wreath...really lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  13. NCYarden 12/10/2014

    Yeeeeeeeeeeeah, hands up for the perpetual garden. Love having plants that still perform and then finding them - the pleasant reminder of things I may have forgotten, or suprised to see have procreated elsewhere. This is one of my favorite times too for evening garden walks when there is a full moon, as the leafless trees allow so much of the silver light to shine through and illuminate the understory. And this is certainly a time when you can really applaud the evergreens, especially the conifers, as they suggest the garden never really goes to sleep, not visually at least. I have one hellebore too, Jeff, centrally located, that has bloomed already (just one flower at this time) and been smiling at us while we have been doing our maintenance and cleanup. The possumhaw is loaded with berries. The moss glows this time of year with the cool days and abundant rain - it almost never dries out through this season. I finally got the last leaves off the moss garden this week and was greeted with a brilliant emerald carpet. But I can also see the signs of what is coming...the winter daphnes are swelling, as well as the egdeworthias. The garden will be alive with fragrance here shortly, like a bowl-full of childhood cereal. Thanks for sharing the treats from your garden and for reminding us the garden always has something to offer.

  14. arthurb3 12/10/2014


  15. Meelianthus 12/10/2014

    So right Jeff, Winter can be a beautiful time of year if you just look. Still great signs of life and color even though winter is almost upon us.

  16. NevadaSue 12/10/2014

    Thanks Jeff for the beauty you shared. Those red berries are beautiful. Pansy's are so cheering this time of year. I'm amazed how well they endure the cold. I've seen mine look like cooked lettuce and then when the temp gets above freezing they pop up their little faces to greet me as I walk by. Always so cheery. Did you make the wreath. It is beautiful and so unique.

  17. jeannetrimble 12/10/2014

    Lovely Jeff! A garden should have winter interest and yours sure does! Love the red

    berries! I only have a tiny city courtyard but I need to see something out of my kitchen window all the time, even if it only the dry grasses and some evergreens. Winter can be beautiful if you know what to look for.

  18. user-7007140 12/11/2014

    First I looked at the pictures - beautiful, I love crabapples in winter. I fell in love with the gaultheria next, so have just looked it up, quite sure it would not grow in zone 5 and ready for disappointment. But it grows zones 3 upwards so am now planning a trip to my favourite nursery. Tomorrow I'll check out my hellebore patch!
    Thank you for making this rather dull day very beautiful and hopeful.
    The wreath is outstanding,too.

    1. user-1020932 12/11/2014

      Eddi, glad you liked the pics but those are not crabapples, it is Ilex verticillata 'Sparkleberry',,,,,,,,,,,,Gaultheria is very tough and very delicious

      1. user-7007140 12/12/2014

        I just looked up the Ilex - not destined for my wind tunnel! Pity, it is certainly very pretty. Thank you for replying, Jeff.

  19. thevioletfern 12/11/2014

    Kudos to you for not only finding the beauty but also sharing it! I can't believe birds leave those berries for you to admire. The wreathe is stunning. Merry merry.

  20. faithfranks 12/11/2014

    Jeff, long-time admirer of your posts, first-time to comment. Very much enjoy seeing your great gardens and grounds. And your photography is wonderful! The closeups are glossy-garden-book quality! Thanks and happy holidays!

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