For five dollars and twenty cents I was on a treasure hunt. I headed out my back door into the garden.

My first stop: a Bigroot Geranium. The upper foliage on this evergreen perennial was a delightful shade of warm red with light green veins. A quick rub released a unique fragrance. Mmm. I put it in my basket.

 

Traveling a few more steps, I pulled bark from my Dwarf River Birch. A pale salmony, phyllo-ish piece, but also a deeper brown layer sandwiched between, with darker salmon and the palest blue markings. Over to the Paperbark Maple, cinnamon stick tight curls were collected. Reaching under a low growing Japanese Maple, I gently peeled off a little piece of bright green moss. A further spot and I was kneeling next to a Dwarf Lacebark Pine. I nudged a few pieces off, revealing a bright green underneath. Preparing to stand up, I spied one of its cones. Short, fat, deeply concave scales and sharp tips. Maneuvering, I reached to an ‘Edward Goucher’ Abelia, which was sporting the most amazing deep maroon leaves. Snip! Into the basket.

The wind was blowing lightly. The chimes sounding oh-so-lovely. A Giant Coneflower seed head swayed in front of me. Very thin and pointed, with an interesting pattern which had once held seeds. I reached up for a Blue Ice Cypress cone, a strange tight orb with a few points and ridges on it. I headed over to the Oakleaf Hydrangea, which still held the deepest purple leaves. I gingerly removed one of the upper most young leaves, which also was covered with silver hairs. Neat-o! Turning from there, I plucked a large pod from ‘Edith Bogue’ Magnolia, completely odd looking with bright orange seeds poking out from distorted, curling capsules. A fat Rhododendron flower bud called me over, pale green bud scales so perfectly arranged.

On the way to my vegetable garden area, I picked up a fallen bird nest. It was intricately woven with what appeared to be very thin roots. I trimmed a few of the ‘Compacta’ Abelia dusty rose calyx clusters. Continuing, one leaf each ‘Prince of Silver, ‘Plum Pudding’ and ‘Autumn Bride’ Coral Bells were carefully tucked in the basket.

Finally rounding to the front garden, I gathered a few Hen and Chicks from a stone wall. Looking up, I noticed ‘Mellow Yellow’ Spirea beginning to flower! Loaded with fat buds with pink scales protecting them, a few white blooms had ventured to open! A nice long stem was clipped. Into the rock garden, various volunteer evergreen Sedums were pinched. The Lemon Thyme also caught my attention with a few bright yellow markings. Rub, rub, then into the basket… Reaching in to a Variegated Yucca- how cool the yellow and lime green markings, but maybe even cooler- the long thin curly hairs on the edges of each leaf.

The final prizes were upon me. The glowing pink-red foliage of a Nandina, and a sprig of pink flowering Heath. Yes, flowering now. Multi green Cyclamen leaves form a carpet under a Dwarf Larch. One for the basket! The ‘Zuiko nishiki’ Daphne caught my attention with its many clusters of fat, bright pink flower buds, on the very edge of sending lovely perfume into the winter air.

For five dollars and twenty cents I got the most beautiful winter garden tour. I got sunshine, and just as I finished, happened upon a dandelion in flower! As I touched the soft petals of the bright yellow flower, my heart grew full with the nearness of spring.

For five dollars and twenty cents, I will be mailing this in a small priority box to a dear friend who calls January “Janu-weary”. I am hoping it boosts her spirit as it did mine.

Send one! Caution! Collecting and Contents may be uplifting! ~Erica