Monthly Archives: December 2012

The full Cold Moon ushered in our first snow in the Shire, and we find our self on the eve of a new year. The storm left about 3 inches of mix wet snow and ice which covered the trees and ground in the most wonderful silky white blanket and other than the wind  that howled all night it left the garden with a sleepiness and beauty. Everything in the Shire now bows in slumber and a great peacefulness falls upon us all, sleep this night will be restful and all will be calm.

With the morning comes sun and everything sparkles and glimmers, there is a brightness that is hard to describe and there is a very magical feeling and happiness about it all. After waiting a few hours for the sun to come up a little more, this will help to loosen the ice and snow and with broom in hand I take the time now to release the shrubs and ornamental of their burden.

Removal of snow and ice from plants is not always required but this was heavy snow with ice on top and the forecast says cold days ahead so some help is needed to keep them from breaking up and snapping apart. With the broom I put it under the hanging branches that are laden with snow and gently tap up ward to break up the heaviest,  going lightly not to break to many small branches. Always use a genital hand and this job will be successful.

The robins are all over the holly’s and it is fun to watch as they and the other birds enjoy their feast. Their songs and chirps fill the air. I now its cold when the woodpeckers are at the suet feeders and the warmer on the bird bath is steaming and the birds there act as if they where at a spa.

So it begins with the first snow and cold, Winter! Along with long days of looking out to the garden, longing to feel the soil again and missing the growth and flowers. I will imagine the plants of the next year and hope for a short snow and cold season. I have planted the Shire from the view through the windows of Acorn Cottage and the winter view was taken into consideration and is of great interest to the eye. I will use this time to improve on the winter planting for next winter.

A thought; With a new year, comes new thoughts and hopes, new resolve is strongest now, what do you really want?


The low but some what bright glow of this cloud covered misty day is what I like to call a December glow, you know not cold enough to snow but cold enough to form small droplets of ice on the tip of branches creating the look and feeling of tiny lights all aglow like thousands of diamonds sparkling. How wonderful nature can be!

The birds are busy at the feeder and their song fills the air and it is their movement that keeps the garden alive at this time along with the color in the holly’s and other evergreens but it is the Helleborus ( Christmas Rose ) that are now bringing in the color at a time when all seems so bleak.

The indoor plants are doing better now that they have adjusted to their winter home, and much to our surprise a small tree frog has found his way in on one of the plants and greets us each morning and evening with his chirps we will keep looking but so far no luck in finding him. He is in one of the plants in the guest room what a great Christmas surprise it will be for our daughter Abigail and husband Charles when our little friend chirps them awake Christmas morning.

The glow is everywhere this time of year subtle but known, not quite dark but not so bright, but a light you know. A December glow it is a special kind of show to let us know winter is here.

A thought; I’m always amazed at the simple things that make me think deep thoughts…..

When you enter the Shire Garden you are first greeted by a 12 foot, Ilex – opaca, ( American Holly ) named ‘ Old Heavy Berry ‘ and it lives up to its name. and beneath this holly we planted a ground cover of ivy, Hedera – hibernica, ( Atlantic Ivy ) which has a dark green leaf with light green veins, and is stunning year round. This makes for a peaceful entry and a graceful exit and was well thought out when planted. I knew over time I’d be planting many more Holly’s and under planting them with various kinds of ivy’s in different locations throughout the Shire. It was to be a symbol of protection and wholeness, for the holly would protect the garden from evil spirits and lighting and the ivy for eternal life and peace.

We now have some 10 different holies and about 8 varieties of ivy and all are used in our holiday decorating and gifting for here we believe to give the gift of holly and ivy to others will bring the presence of peace to light.

Some of my combinations are thus: first the holly then the ivy,

Holly, Ilex – aquifolium, ‘ Argentena Marginata Pendula ‘ a green with an almost pure white margin and red fruit and I combined it with, Ivy, Hedera – helix, ‘ Harrison ‘ a dark green leaf with white veins and winter color the green turns purple. This is a walk stopper all year.

Holly, Ilex – opaca, American Holly – ‘ Morgan Gold ‘ rich green foliage with assume heavy yellow fruit and is combined with, Ivy, Hedera – helix, ‘ Gold Dust ‘ a soft green foliage with splashes of green and gray throughout. On sunny days, WoW!

Holly, Ilex – verticillata, ( Black Alder, Winterberry ) – ‘ Sparkleberry ‘ is deciduous but is quite a fruit producer, what a show of red. I combined it with, Ivy, Hedera – helix, ‘ Little Diamond ‘ with her diamond-shaped leaves that are gray/green with a creamy white margin, all I can say is strawberries and cream.

Very often these combination find their way into Acorn Cottages arrangements and will often encourage new thoughts of other combinations of textures and colors. During the holiday we here at the Shire are always busy with traditions and the Holly and the Ivy have aways played a very important role. So may your days be filled with holly thoughts and your evenings twine with ivy’s warmth and may all your wishes come true….

A thought; My wish for you is a garden full of wonders and the holly and the ivy to keep you safe at home.

Helleborus – Christmas Rose, commonly called, is a perennial and not a rose at all. What is so loved about it, is that it blooms around Christmas and will stay in bloom most of the winter. The christmas roses of the Shire are just coming into bloom and we look forward to the most holiest of shows as they remind me of the many stories and legends that have been given to this flower and for me it is the christmas legend that means the most, for as a gardener it brings the story of the holiday home.

The legend of The Christmas Rose

On the night when angels sung and Christ was born in Bethlehem, the shepherds who visited the stable were followed by a little girl, the sister of one of them. Shyly she looked in as the shepherds knelt and gave their gifts to the newly born holy babe, then turned away in sorrow for her hands were empty and there were nothing for her hands to give.

Tearfully she stole away, hoping no one had noticed her and sat alone on the hillside under the bright star among the sheep waiting for her brother’s return.

Suddenly there was a great light all about her and a glorious angel stood before her in a gown of glittering white. The angel asked in a voice of song ” Little one why do you weep, are you not glad that you have seen the little king? ” When she had recovered from her amazement she answered ” I cry for I have nothing to give him. ” The Angel then smiled and with the wave of the hand the air around them filled with sparkling lights that then fell to the earth. The angel then said, ” Look around you and you will find your gift. ” As the angel disappeared the light still lingered and the shepherdess saw that the whole hillside was covered with lovely wax like flowers like roses. Soon her arms were filled with the blooms. Her joy was complete, when the child turned away from the rich gifts and reached out his little hands for her flowers, a gift from the heavens to gladden a true heart.

Helleborus – Christmas Rose, a genus of 15 species of perennials found in scrubby hillsides, woodlands and grassy rocky sites, like a little more alkaline soils so lime may be in order each year in acidic soils. They are rhizomatous and most form in clumps. Leaves are leathery and some saw like. Will do well in partial shade and are easy to grow. To read more go to [Edit: This site is no longer maintained] and enjoy!

A thought; The holiday’s and it’s traditions give us meaning.