Winter Sweetness for the Eyes and the Nose

a Basket of Winter Flowers, painting on silk by Li Song (1166-1243)
Basket of Winter Flowers, painting on silk
Li Song (1166-1243)

The realism allows each plant to be identified. What we see is a rattan basket filled with some of the earliest flowers of the year. From left, they are (top) Chinese winter-flowering plum with green calyx, (bottom) narcissus, camellia, wintersweet, and daphne. Once plum blossoms have been open for a while, the calyx changes to red, so this state indicates the freshest and first flowers to be produced. What the picture can’t show you is the fragrance Read more

The Ornamental Cherry ‘Okame’ Offers a Celebration of February Plus Symbolic Luck and Happiness

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branches of the ornamental cherry 'Okame' loaded with pink flowers in late February 2017

Over most of its range, this tree comes into bloom before March. In the area around Philadelphia, where it was introduced to this country, it is also among the first trees to flower, usually between late March and mid-April. ‘Okame’ will grow as far north as zone 5 although it’s not commonly sold some places where it would grow. Since the flowers open so early, you might be worried about their ability to withstand late freezes. Worry not! Like other plants of very early spring, it can take a night or two below 32 without harm in bud or in bloom. In fact, I’ve seen it endure 17 degrees after flowering just ended.

So who or what is Okame? Read more

Consider the Value of Reading Wind Patterns in Snowfall

an untitled winter landscape painting by Jose Salis Camino
Untitled Winter Landscape (no date)
by José Salís Camino (1863-1927)

If you live where it snows and you’re not a kid, dealing with snow is mostly a chore–one some residents dread so much they resolve to retire in a place where they will never see snow again!

The Japanese have a saying karo tosen, or “Summer heater, winter fan.” The point is that Read more

The Ethics of Bamboo: Perspectives from East and West

a snowy winter scene with bamboo leaves up close

Ancient Chinese tradition holds that the Three Friends of Winter are the pine tree, plum tree, and bamboo. Around this time, you can find them used in China on greeting cards, jewelry, candies, decorations for the home, and of course through the year in literature and art. In Confucian thought, bamboo embodies the characteristics of a great scholar: Read more