Garden Photo of the Day

The First Signs

By Kim Charles

Jim Herlihy of New Jersey has captured scenes of the late winter season with perfection.

"I sent these photos to my mother in Maine before and after a small storm we experienced here in southern New Jersey. On Wednesday the temperature was 70 and on Thursday it snowed.  My mother, Jane Donelon, is a regular contributor and suggested I send in these pictures.  I am an enthusiastic gardener in Dennisville and always have several projects going on my three acre property. Mid winter is usually a time for cutting/maintaining woodland trails, but the early bulbs are starting to bloom along with witch hazels so I took a few pictures since we never know whether if this is the last snow we will see this year."

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  1. VikkiVA 02/28/2017

    Great photos showing your lovely landscape in a blanket of snow and gleaming under the sun. Your witch hazels are such a harbinger of things to come. I've not seen red witch hazel before! Vikki in VA

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Vikki, the red one is 'Diane'. Mine's still small but blooms well in a much shadier spot than the yellow one. Once the witch hazels start blooming I know that spring not too far away.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/28/2017

    Hi, Jim, how fun it must be to trade pictures and tales of gardening successes (maybe a few failures as well...they can be equally entertaining) with your mom. Thanks for including her name so we could put it in the search box and be reminded of what her shared pictures have been. You certainly have great gardening DNA coursing through your veins!
    Are those snowdrops at the base of the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick? If so, they are certainly living up to their name. Your property is lovely and I'll bet there are great garden scenes throughout the year so please do share.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      I do really enjoy talking gardening and sharing pictures with my mother and sister, who are both excellent gardeners(and take award winning photos). My property is covered with snowdrops and I add more each year. They are amazing and often bloom the entire winter season!! I will be sharing more photos during the year.

  3. thevioletfern 02/28/2017

    Lovely. The extreme weather doesn't seem to thwart your garden a bit! Superb witch hazels. There is nothing better than Spring in the North. What a wonderful garden.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Kathy, spring is early for us this year. Plants are popping up everywhere, and the hellebores are blooming!

  4. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 02/28/2017

    The witch hazel are superb. We don't have any...yet! I agree, your property looks lovely from the photos :) Hopefully the freakishly strange weather won't cause too much damage should more normal wintery weather return or persist.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      The plants pictured don't seem to mind the weather fluctuations. These are all sturdy, at least in the mild southern NJ climate. I encourage you to get a witch hazel, a 4 season winner. They grow slowly but have consistently bloomed even when small in sun and partial shade.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/28/2017

    Love those witch hazels. I have one in zone 8b but it is just sitting there. Yours are beautiful.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Although these are blooming, my copper colored 'Jelena' has done nothing yet this year. Hopefully you get enough cold days required for good blooming.

  6. LaurelEm 02/28/2017

    Great shots! We had similar weather here in Wisconsin last week with close to 70 on Wednesday and snowing and temps dropping to the teens Thursday , Friday, Saturday.
    Well "every day it is warm, is one less freezing cold day", is the only way to look at it.
    I love you wooded property!

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Laurie, I really enjoy living in the woods. In southern NJ we rarely get temps in the teens. I grew up in Maine which sounds similar to WI. I prefer NJ!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/28/2017

    These are great photos and you have some wonderful specimens. You've definitely got winter interest going on. Love your Hamamelis, and the crocuses with the tree trunk are really ringing my bells this morning. Thanks for showing off your gardening genes!

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Tim. I try to keep the garden interesting all year and it helps that the weather here is usually quite mild during the winter. Lots of plants have exploded from earth since these photos were taken.

  8. user-4691082 02/28/2017

    Good morning Jim, and all of my GPOD friends! I just got back from Cancun last night, so I didn't see any posts last week. It's so good to see your beautiful photos. Are we getting too excited for spring? I hope it lasts! I, too, lost my beautiful Harry Lauder's after some years. It wasn't nearly as large as yours! Are those crocus yellow? Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 02/28/2017

      Glad you are back on deck, Rhonda - been missed. Cheers, Frank

    2. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/01/2017

      Welcome back, Rhonda. I hope it was a nice reprieve.

    3. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Hi Rhonda, hope you enjoyed Cancun. I don't think you can get too excited for spring as a gardener. Spring has sprung early here in southern NJ, plants are popping up everywhere. I love my large contorted Harry which I got in Connecticut over a decade ago. I bought a little one and placed it in a prominent location in a new garden last year. Yes, the crocus are yellow. Most of mine are white or purple, but the yellow were blooming first.

  9. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 02/28/2017

    Hi Jim and welcome to GPOD. Wow, what a difference a day makes, eh? Are you back to spring or did the snow hang around? You have some lovely plantings, especially the Winter Hazel. That always smells so good. Please post more in the upcoming months as I'm sure we'd all like to see more of your 3 acres.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Linda, the snow lasted less than a day. It appears that spring is early this year. I love my witch hazels but don't have a good sense of smell so I don't appreciate that aspect of the tree. They are a great four season plants with a beautiful shape, great fall color and the incredible long lasting bloom. I intend to submit more photos as the year progresses.

  10. sheila_schultz 02/28/2017

    Good morning Jim. You certainly paid attention to Garden Design 101 when providing winter interest was mentioned. Your before and after the snow photos show the importance of form and structure, plus the delight the coming of spring brings to our color starved souls. BTW, your 'Harry' is a truly magnificent specimen and definitely drool-worthy. I adore the visual movement of those curliqued branches, can you tell? Thank you!

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks, I have a mother and sister who are exceptional gardeners and have taught me well over the years. They both have residential gardens in Maine and I am often the recipient of their extra plants, which I rarely reject. I try to keep the garden interesting all year and like to use various evergreens, and pretty barks and berries to keep the winter interest. It helps that winter is quite mild on the Cape May County peninsula.

  11. OregonGardenGal 02/28/2017

    Lovely witch hazels. I love seeing the flowers just beginning to wake up on your property. Thank you!

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Great time of year , plants bursting from ground all over the place.

  12. NCYarden 02/28/2017

    Great property...tons of room to garden. The witch hazels are gorgeous, and always admire the contorted filbert. I appreciate the complementary snow shots...nice contrast. Enjoy the crazy weather. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      It's nice to have space to garden. I was lucky to find several blooms right before snow was predicted.

  13. anitaberlanga 02/28/2017

    omgosh! your witch hazels are glorious! I didn't know they 'came' in red! lol! We've had some up & down temps (IL) and my peach trees are threatening to bud! yikes! Other than that everything still seems to be on-track. Love the snow on those hazels

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks Anita, I also love the snow on the witch hazels. The red one is 'Diane' and it blooms well in a dappled shade location.

  14. schatzi 02/28/2017

    What a beautiful property, with or without snow. Love the snowdrops and the Harry Lauder is magnificent. Snow has been sporadic here is Puget Sound country this year. Where I live we had 1' of very heavy wet snow Feb 5 that lasted a week. Have had flurries and light snowfalls several times since, including 3" this morning. Interesting weather all over.

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Here in southern NJ we only get a couple snow storms a season. I'm originally from Maine where snow often lasts on ground into April. I like it better here although I'm envious of your area for gardening.

  15. Chris_N 03/01/2017

    I'm starting to appreciate witch hazels more and more. Yours are gorgeous. I also appreciate the Nandina which is not hardy in Wisconsin. The weather has been crazy here as Laurie said. We went to Olbrich Botanic Gardens here in Madison a week ago Sunday and saw blooming snowdrops, the earliest I've ever seen. Plus witch hazels being visited by honey bees from the hives there. In a protected courtyard at work, we had early crocus like yours ready to bloom and the rabbits ate them! I've fixed the hole in the fence and set out live traps. Hasenpfeffer anyone?

    1. user-7008381 03/01/2017

      Thanks, I love the witch hazels. True four season tree. Great structure, fall color and incredible bloom! Snowdrops often start blooming here in southern NJ as early as Christmas. If you examine the pre-snow red witch hazel picture closely you will see a a bee in action!

  16. Cenepk10 03/01/2017


  17. user-7008381 03/01/2017

    Thanks Diane, I agree that the snow makes the witch hazels look even better than usual. The contorted Harry is a favorite of mine, a great four season shrub but best without leaves. My little oak forest has a lovely understory of dogwoods, hollies and mountain laurels.

    1. schatzi 03/01/2017

      Jim, you mentioned some envy of our area for growing, but it looks like your site is pretty near Paradise. My white Hellebores have been blooming
      since Dec., the pink ones started last month and now the yellow ones are blooming too. Some of the doubles are starting too. Love Hellebores - have gone a bit crazy over the new hybrids - they are so beautiful and easy. I have 37! Your oak forest understory sounds marvelous. Pictures please when things bloom? Thanks and enjoy.

  18. Coveside 03/01/2017

    Terrific before and after shots. These first bits of color are so welcome!

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