1 Before leaving for vacation, I took some photos of a very dramatic sky early one morning at the farm.
2 The fast-moving cloud formations were so unusual and rather foreboding.
3 The sky looked just like a magnificent oil painting.
4 Another view
5 The morning light was stunning.
6 While I was away on vacation, the farm crew finished all the burlapping. The espalier apple orchard is now enclosed in a burlap windscreen. The rounded figures are standard wisteria.
7 The Gravenstein apple espalier is also surrounded with a burlap windscreen. The farm has a tendency to be very windy and I wanted the trees and shrubs to be protected as much as possible.
8 Art on burlap - The tree shadows look great!
9 The boxwood hedge surrounding the herbaceous peony beds is tucked away neatly beneath a burlap covered bamboo frame structure.
10 The fellows have really outdone themselves this year!
11 The boxwood hedge in front of the Summer House
12 And the tall American boxwood hedge behind the Summer House - These hedges are ten-feet tall! That's a lot of sewing!
13 All of the garden urns have been wrapped in plastic and covered with burlap.
14 Truly amazing! The allee of boxwood is well-protected from the elements.
15 The temperatures have been very mild, but apparently it's cold enough for this little rill to freeze upon the stone wall it passes through.
16 Look carefully and you can see a skin of ice on the water's surface.
17 Did I say it's been unseasonably warm? The daffodils should not be doing this in January! So many plants are confused by this weather.
18 Inside the newest greenhouse - The tropical plants are flourishing!
19 The fig trees have tender new foliage and even figs!
20 This is a Nagami kumquat - Unlike other citrus fruits, which have thick, pithy rinds, kumquat peel is thin and soft, and perfectly edible.
21 Citrus x Citrofortunella mitis is similar to a mandarin orange.
22 This tree is loaded!
23 A better look at the fruit - these small, juicy, sour oranges are wonderful in recipes and also for making preserves. I'm going to make marmalade.
24 Citrus limon 'Striped Lemonade' - This unusual tree is especially beautiful from its variegated leaves and fragrant blossoms, to its striped fruit - lovely!
25 Citrus limon 'Ponderossa' or 'The American Wonder Lemon' - this plant produces a thick mass of highly fragrant flowers, which become tiny lemons. Those lemons get bigger and bigger, often up to 5 pounds!
26 Citrus sinensis 'Blood Orange' - I really love this fruit because its distinctive tasting flesh is purple rather than orange.
27 Flowers of the blood orange plant - I forgot to mention that it is so very fragrant in the greenhouse!
28 A close look at a blood orange flower, which has an extremely floral aroma
29 The base of this giant potted tree fern is covered with baby tears.
30 Baby tears plant is a moss-like, creeping plant composed of threadlike stems with tiny, kidney-shaped, bright green leaves. It is obviously very happy growing here.
31 This agave plant has been very busy creating offsets known as pups. These pups grow from runners sent out from the base of the parent plant, just below the soil surface.
32 These pups will have to be carefully cut off of the runner and planted in smaller pots.
33 The bloom of a century plant, or Agave americana - The century plant is monocarpic, meaning it will bloom once in its lifetime. That bloom may not appear for 10 or 20 years, or more.
34 The upward-facing yellow flowers grow in clusters at the end of horizontal branches near the top of a tall stalk that emerges from a thick basal rosette of gray-green leaves.
35 The flower structure of the century plant resembles a candelabrum and sits atop a fast growing flower stalk that may reach 10 or even 25-feet!
36 Also in that greenhouse is fragrant rosemary in full bloom.
37 The rosemary flowers are edible and make excellent garnishes.
38 The cold house, where we grow directly in the amended soil, continues to flourish. I love having all of this fresh produce to enjoy.
39 Gorgeous broccoli!
40 Pak choi for stir fries
41 Spinach Gigante D'inverno - Spinach is a main ingredient in my daily 'green juice.'
42 Tall Top Early Wonder Beets
43 Rows and rows of feathery carrots
44 Colorful Rainbow Swiss Chard
45 Early Mizuna - This early maturing Japanese mustard is also known as kyona. Mizuna has become very popular as a salad green and is also delicious cooked.
46 Blooming in the main greenhouse is this showy crimson bromeliad, a tropical plant. This family contains more than 3,000 species and the pineapple is the most well-known bromeliad.
47 Also blooming in the greenhouse is Scadoxus, a member of the amaryllis family, native to South Africa.
48 For obvious reasons, this spectacular flower is also referred to as the paintbrush lily.
49 Medinilla Magnifica is one of my new acquisitions. Native to the Philippine Islands, medinilla is an epiphytic tropical evergreen shrub that grows to 8-feet tall in its native habitat. I love its waxy leaves and pendulous blooms.
50 A very pretty Paphiopedilum, or Lady Slipper orchid
51 Paphiopedilum maudiae, another slipper orchid also called 'The Queen'
52 Bright purple Epidendrum orchid flowers
53 The beautiful pink and cream flower stalk of variegated Acanthus Whitewater
54 The lush unfurling fronds of a bird's nest fern