Simply Subtle

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If someone were to come visit the Fairegarden right now, mid-December, they would need to switch their vision to subtle, for there is little shouting being done at the moment.

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Perhaps those things that are thrilling to the garden maker would have to be pointed out to someone not so intimately familiar with every stem, leaf and stone. Case in point, the grassy river, written about here.

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Lighting would need to be just so, to enhance what is happening to its best advantage. The late changing foliage of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alison’ benefits from subtle backlighting.

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The visitor might need to bend down and put their reading glasses on to see the subtle splendidness of a mossy rock surrounded by Epimediums and native Carex.

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There is less of a color riot at this time of year, much less, but texture and form become the shining stars. Sanguisorba officinalis is an evergreen herb, also known as salad burnet that will turn reddish as the cold continues to fall across the land.

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It is not a rainbow, but the landscape is hardly a monotone. Thalictrum dioicum, whose foliage is a lookalike to columbine has seeded about happily in the wildflower corner. Its buttery yellow discs are a magnet to human eyes.

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It helps to have the vision, that ability to see what will be rather than what is at the present.


Gardeners usually have that vision to discern the beauty of a subtle garden in winter. In the previous current image and shown above on January 23, 2012, Galanthus elwesii.

Frances

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14 Responses to Simply Subtle

  1. Les says:

    It’s good to rest your eyes every now and then. If we were surrounded by bright colors all year, we would not appreciated them as much.

    Hi Les, thanks for dropping by. I could not agree more. Having lived in Southern California, where nothing changed from season to season, much, the distinct seasons with fairly mild and short winter here in TN seems ideal.
    Frances

  2. Carol says:

    I’m glad you noted that the snowdrop picture was taken last January. I know the weather had been weird and plants have been growing at odd times, but snowdrops in December would still be quite a surprise. I love your subtle post.

    Hi Carol, thanks for visiting. If the warm weather had continued, I believe those snowdrops, super early species, would have opened. They may yet before the new year is out, depending.
    Frances

  3. Barbara H. says:

    The resting time lets our inner vision re-imagine what can be and our bodies to re-charge so we can make it happen. Now that I live where summers are so hot, I really appreciate winter’s beauty.

    Truly written, Barbara, and thanks for the kind words. We need that rest period, and it is good for us to learn to see the beauty in winter’s subtlety.
    Frances

  4. entwinedlife says:

    With each sojourn into your Fairegarden I find a new plant to to learn about. Always a pleasure Frances!
    Now out to Entwined Garden I go, before the baking begins!

    Hi Entwined, thanks for stopping by. Time to bake here, as well.
    Frances

  5. I, too, love the subtler charms of the quiet season. The lack of competition from the more attention demanding colorful flowers lets me admire the sturdy bones I labored so hard to put in place …irony alert….since ,then after the great bones are settled in , the gardening efforts transition to adding plant material to soften them…and so it goes on and on. I especially love the rich textual greens that moss exhibits during the cooler temps…they are like expensive luxurious velvet.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for sharing here. I love hearing about your garden and efforts. So true about the irony. As if life, the only thing constant is change.
    Frances

  6. Diane says:

    Dear Frances,
    It is very dark and gloomy out side today here on the West coast of B.C. Canada. In fact, a heavy wet snow is happening and the tiny birds are looking very disgruntled. As I garden in a very urban setting I can not report any garden news, but,… I do want to thank-you for a year of blissful photos and words. May you and your family have a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and much JOY, GOOD HEALTH and MAGIC in the New Year.
    With Love and Many Blessings, Diane.

    Dear Diane, thank you for that sweet comment, it really made my day! I am sorry for your gloomy weather, and for the poor birds. I hope things begin looking up soon, we are almost to the longest night, things will get better after that. May you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.
    Frances

  7. Lola says:

    I really like the first pic. Structure for winter viewing. Love those Snow Drops. Mine are up but not for blooming just now. I do have a wild [ground cover] that has decided to bloom. So pretty, leaves look like giant 4-leaf clover.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I am glad you have some pretties there, wild is good!
    Frances

  8. Sandy & Richard says:

    I cannot report, leaves of many colours, bare trees, a chill in the air…. Christmas is around the corner though, and the sun shines brightly with a sting of what is to come. Christmas was always cold where I came from, Australia is the total antithesis, takes some getting used to. The garden though is a riot of colours, and our new garden is taking shape.
    Wishing you a wonderfully happy Christmas, with all your loved ones….catch you next year in the garden. Warmest wishes Sandy.

    I totally understand your climate, Sandy, having lived in a similar situation in Southern California in the US, although the timing was Northern Hemisphere. I missed the change of seasons and especially having cold temps for Christmas. Your garden sounds wonderful and may your present home give you great joy, now and in the years to come. Warmest wishes to you and yours.
    Frances

  9. That Moss is so bright and lovely. You’re so fortunate to have Snowdrops in winter! Ours don’t appear until March. Your garden is beautiful in all seasons!

    Thanks PP. The moss does bring cheerfulness to winter, being so much more green and noticeable then. These are a special, very early type of snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii, the others don’t bloom until much later for us, too.
    Frances

  10. During this dark period of the year we do look for those subtle colors and forms that carry us through the darkness. It won’t be long and things will be looking up.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by. One more day, things will either be looking up and not looking at all. I vote for the looking up. Onward.
    Frances

  11. gail says:

    Thank you Frances for the sweet walk in your garden. Sometimes subtle is perfect, especially in this busy season. It forces us to slow down and take a good look. It’s very meditative. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks for walking along with me. Subtle is good to my eyes right now, it seems right for the time of year.
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  12. Rose says:

    It’s a dark and dreary day here as we await the arrival of our first winter storm, so even these subtle spots of color are a welcome sight, Frances. I like the fact that at this time of year we notice the little wonders that often get lost in the bold, brassy blooms of summer.

    Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and warm during your big snow storm, and enjoy the sun when it appears. Your garden will be waiting for you when the snow melts and you can visit with it again.
    Frances

  13. commonweeder says:

    Not much of interest in the Lawn Beds at this time of the year, inspire of the few conifers there. To see fresh green I have to take a walk in the woods to see still green ferns and lichen covered stones glowing in dappled sunlight. Oh – and the really green moss growing in between the pavers on the piazza. You remind us all to look a little more closely.

    Hi Pat, thanks for sharing your winter garden greens. Moss, ferns and lichens are wonderful, perfectly subtle beauties for the cold season. I should go visit the ones here.
    Frances

  14. We see our gardens through our hearts :-) Winter is such a great time to see the structure and texture of our gardens. Thanks for reminding me about Salad Burnet. I keep forgetting about it and would like to grow it again. It has lovely little blooms, too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    Hi Toni, thanks for adding in here. I love the winter garden just as much, if not more than the riot of spring, summer and fall. Each season has its own beauty. The Sanguisorba is a wonderful plant. I have never eaten it, might need to give it a try soon. May your Christmas by wonderful and 2013 be filled with wonder.
    Frances

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