Slowing the Clock with Winter

March 5th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

Before we know it, it will be spring. April will be here and there will be flowers and (more) rain and leaf buds opening. We will continue on with our lives; work, school, exercise, going out and of course, gardening. Time moves on, no matter what, and it feels like it’s moving VERY quickly.

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I think I may have found a way to slow things down. Well, slowed down for an hour, anyway. I went to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden at Washington Park Arboretum with my camera. It was on a day we were supposed to have rain and didn’t. For the hour I was out in the field, I saw color, smelled sweet and spicy scents, felt soft and hairy flower buds, heard birds sing and declare territory and relished in the form of the naked trees. Time slowed and my senses (including my sense of wonder) took over.

If you don’t already know, the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden is just a short distance from the parking lot near Graham Visitors Center. Walking west of the center and up the graveled ramp, you pass by one of the most fascinating trees, Malus fusca or Pacific Crabapple. This particular tree is at least as old as the Arboretum (1935) and is listed as a State Champion for it’s width. You can see in the picture below how long the side branches are.

Malus fusca

Just a little further down the trail, in the “hallway” to the Winter Garden, are two of my most favorite witch hazels. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ not only has a beautiful flower color, but it’s fall color is also spectacular. I have seen purple, orange, red, green and yellow in one leaf.

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Directly across the trail is Hamamelis mollis, which has my favorite witch hazel fragrance and a brilliant yellow color.

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A few steps more and the the garden and all its beauty presents itself.

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A Townsend’s Warbler in Berberis ‘Arthur Menzies’ – tasting the last of the flowers. Too fast for me to get a great shot.

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The friendly and fuzzy flower buds of a star magnolia.

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The amazing and nearly unbelievable color of Cornus sanguinia ‘Midwinter Fire’.

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The shy (they don’t even lift their ‘heads’ when you walk by) and spicy sweet flowers of the Chimonanthus praecox.

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Mercy! I could go on and on. There is so much to see, smell and touch! Okay, just one more. Helleborus ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’.

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You must come to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden for yourself and take the time to be fully rooted in the present. You will feel like you are suddenly living in technicolor after having been in black and white. Don't delay, soon enough we’ll be caught up in spring’s turn to blow our minds with sights and sounds.

(Top picture is a Acer griseum surrounded by two Betula albo-sinensis var. septentrionalis.
All photographs taken by Lisa Sanphillippo, UW Botanic Gardens Education Program Assistant.)

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