Yesterday, the temperature here crept above freezing, so I took advantage of the relative mildness to chop the branches off our Christmas tree and add some mulch to a few places around the gardens.003The Blue and Yellow Garden, on the western edge of the side porch, was completely bare of snow.  There is a slight overhang from the porch roof, so precipitation doesn’t always hit the back of this bed.  Additionally, when we have a rare sunny day, this spot bears the brunt of the strongest afternoon rays.  009There are several perennials in there, including Clematis ‘Riviera’, in the back left corner.  In order to protect them from inevitable freeze and thaw cycles, I covered the bed with pine boughs.  Next time we get an appreciable snow fall, I will also be sure to shovel some snow onto that area.027The trunk of the tree looks like a Festivus pole now without its lovely branches!022I also piled some of the branches on the new perennials in the Terrace Garden, and while I was there, I took a closer look at the Mountain Fire bushes I noticed last Tuesday while taking pictures for Tuesday’s ViewsMountain Fire bush (Pieris Japonica) in winterThis is my first experience with Pieris japonica, so I did not know what to expect from it in the winter.  It seems that these pretty pink beads are buds for next year’s flowers:Pieris Japonica (Mountain Fire) buds in winterI cut just a few small branches to bring inside for bloom day.  I left them in the cool basement for about twenty-four hours to help them acclimate to sudden warmth.  This evening, I just plunked them in a pink ceramic vase that had belonged to my grandmother.008I’ve always loved this vase, with its graceful shape, delicate pink color, and sweet porcelain flowers. Over the years, some of the flowers have chipped, but I still think the vase is beautiful, and I’m very happy to have it.018It is thanks to Cathy and her weekly “In a Vase on Monday” meme that I even thought to bring this vase out and use it this week.  I highly recommend stopping by her blog to see what she and many other gardeners have found this week to bring inside and use to beautify their homes!  014