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Garden Lifestyle

Winter Musings

We have had very cold weather this month and now we have warmed up just a bit--enough to tease us--and make us think spring is in the air.

  • Still-life in the winter garden. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Bamboo laden down with snow.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Garlic bed tucked under a blanket of straw mulch and snow.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Snow-capped Monarda fistulosa--wild bee balm seed heads left for the birds.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • It is a lot of work--these wood piles give me a sense of security--although it sure goes fast in this cold weather!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • This mullein in the field is not really dead--it is just hunkered down and waiting for spring.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Nettles are perservering the freezing and thawing and bitter cold temps.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Indoors, we have a cheery blooming hyacinth that scents the whole downstairs (thanks Mom!).
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • This old-fashioned clivia blooms every winter--it thrives in a cool place with indirect light--it was a pass-along plant from Janet Walker way back when she was curator of the USNA herb garden.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • In the greenhouse--amaryllis bulb waiting to leaf out--and sedums with their delightful little blooms.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Sprouts on the kitchen counter--easy to grow your own fresh greens in just a few days--everyone should be doing this!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Last though not least, here is a sampling of seed catalogs. I'll cover some of my favorites in my next post.
    Photo/Illustration: Deborah Hall

We have had very cold weather this month and it has been the case across the nation. Even my sister in South Carolina has had snow and ice and my daughter in florida has had below freezing temps. Now we have warmed up just a bit–enough to tease us–and make us think spring is in the air. Not. However we can dream of spring and our gardens to be, especially with the seed catalogs coming in and seed sales offered in our emails almost daily.

Gardeners don’t despair. I take a walk everyday and there is life in the garden as you can see in the photos. Even though the garlic is under a layer of mulch blanketed with snow and I cannot see a bit of green, I know that those little cloves have sprouts. When the snow melts off, I can see small plants of chickweed, dandelion, fieldcress and nettles. Life is burgeoning underground.

This lovely poem was recently posted on an Urban Moonshine’s post–I love the imagery–so very apropos this time of year:


“Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.

It’s quiet.

But the roots are down there riotus.”



When I walk in the woods, the trails are slick and slippery–either with snow and slush–or on these warmer days with mud. The earth is squishy and full of water. The Cattail Creek is running fast with little rapids; it is wonderfully uplifting to walk along the creek bank and hear the water and see the birds darting about and hearing their calls. Just being in the woods with the big majestic trees is soothing; I imagine that I can feel the waterworks and sap moving within the as they sway in the winter wind.

Then I get to come inside and stoke the stove, have a cuppa tea and perhaps peruse another new seed catalog. These are something that I look forward to–although I usually don’t allow myself the pleasure of langusihing by the stove until after my chores are done–feeding the birds, hauling wood, stoking the stove and other household chores besides work. Having a pile of seed catalogs is like having a good book waiting for you at the end of the day.

I am fortunate to have a greenhouse attached to the south side of our passive solar house, so I do have lots of plants in there giving me pleasure as well as oxygen. I have bulbs going so I get some blooms which provide happy sights and smells this time of year. This is easy to do and so worthwhile… it’s not too late to try some yourself. Indoor blooming houseplants are a bright spot on these cold grey days. I also grow sprouts on the kitchen counter for fresh food and the joy of watching the miracle of seeds sprouting.

Undoubtedly, we have cold weather ahead–meanwhile take some walks and breathe the cold air into your lungs–and be outdoors with nature. Then come inside and hunker down and enjoy the slowdown of the season. Before we know it, it will be spring and then we will be caught up once again in the flurry as new life and growth abound.

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