Friday, February 27, 2015

Trying to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s still winter. It’s still cold. And we have finally been getting the snow they had predicted we would get this year, although granted, NOTHING compared to last year. But boy, this cold. This bitter, bone-chilling, breath-taking cold. It is completely unbearable to me. I can’t imagine having tons of snow on top of that like they have had in Boston and other New England areas. We have a distant relative who lives in Maine who sent photos of the many feet of snow surrounding their house and I said I would’ve died by now from cold and snow. You would’ve found me buried in a snow drift frozen to the bone. Thank goodness we haven’t had to deal with that. Waking up to a 1 degree temp with wind chills below zero is hard enough for me to deal with – even with the three layers of clothes I seem to have to wear every day just to feel comfortable. When will it end?

Despite this incredible cold (sixth coldest winter on record, I heard), I still see plenty of birds at the bird feeders. Shouldn’t you guys have gone south for the winter? None in this photo, but trust me, I have seen as many as 20 birds at one time all vying for a bite to eat.

Even my garden statue, Winnie, wishes she had gone south for the winter so she wasn’t wearing a snow-cap like she has been lately.

Surprisingly, I still see tracks from my neighbor’s cats throughout the yard. It is interesting that even with the snow on the ground, they still seem to follow the path through the garden.

So how does a gardener get through a miserably cold, gray, drab winter like this? We think SPRING! We look forward to when we can dig our trowels in rich soil, plant our seeds, and watch them grow. We dream of all the marvelous veggies we can grow this year, and might even contemplate trying Brussels Sprouts for the first time. There is warmth in dreaming. In planning my veggie garden this year, I came to a conclusion. I have decided to use as much organic seed as possible. Why? Well, I garden organically so it seems like organic seeds would be more adapted to that since they come from plants that were grown organically. Plus, it is just one more thing I can do to help the environment – less chemicals means a happier environment (not to mention it helps our oh-so-important-pollinators). Hudson Vally Seed Library is one source I have used in the past and will use this year, as well. It certainly helps that I love their Art Packs packaging, too. I AM a sucker for pretty packages. Seeds of Change and Seed Savers Exchange are two others I am looking at using this year.

Ha! Sorry about some of the upside down seed packets in that shot. Must have been tipsy when I took that. :o)

This gardener also looks for other ways to scratch that gardening itch this time of the year. That’s where garden classes come in handy. I took a class on Crevice Gardening at Longwood Gardens recently. They have such awesome classes and I was looking to learn more about alpine plants. Oh what fun putting on the garden gloves and playing in the soil for a day.

If you don’t know what Crevice Gardening is, well it is basically a type of rock garden where you grow plants in between vertical slats of stone. Longwood Gardens is working on restoring their fountains and some of the rocks in this planter (the lighter colored ones) are pieces from the fountains that couldn’t be used in the restoration. We had a choice of using a container made from the pieces from the fountains or a lighter weight one, and I would’ve loved to have used the one constructed from the fountain pieces, but it was well over a 100 pounds even before planted and well, after three elbow problems and a rotator cuff issue, I like to hope I learned my lesson about trying to lift more than I should. So I stuck with the lighter weight container. I would love to tell you what plants are in here, other than the obvious Hens and Chicks, but the plant tags are stuck inside the container, which is currently outside in the snow. However, I did cover it with plastic – to protect not just the plants, but the container as well, from freezing in this drastic cold. They are all plants that don’t require a lot of space or nutrients to grow and should fill in. We shall see how it does. If you are interested in learning how to create a Crevice Garden, you can check out a video by a lovely-sounding British lady wearing Wellingtons named Christine Pritchard on YouTube.

Soon I will be at Longwood Gardens again, this time for a class on Kokedama (hanging string gardens). Soooooo looking forward to that. Google it to see what they look like. Just found a YouTube video on that, too.

Another way I am combating the winter blues if by tending to the greenhouse plants and creating some air plant containers, like this one I put together in a jar and have sitting in the kitchen window. I saw this red air plant at the Longwood Gardens gift shop and fell in love with the color. I already had the jar at home, as well as gravel, moss and tiny little pinecones.

Next on the “Beat the Winter Blues List,” the Philadelphia Flower Show. Although I have a beef with this year’s show. It has been advertised as “Celebrate the Movies.” It wasn’t until I went to their website that I saw it isn’t movies in general, it is Disney and Disney Pixar movies. Really??? Why didn’t you call it “Celebrate Disney and Pixar Movies” then? I’m feeling slighted and I haven’t even seen it yet. I will try to reserve my judgment until AFTER I have seen it, though. It does seem like false, or at the very least misleading, advertisement to me, though. The flower show is always a treat for me and I feel lucky to have such a wonderful show within easy driving (or train ride) distance, so I will try not to complain.

While I wish for winter’s end and hope for those sprouting spring seedlings, I know I’m not quite ready yet. Been way too busy with homework for my evening web design classes, plus extra work at my day job that keeps me way too occupied and fries my brain. Still working out my kitchen garden plan for this year, still figuring out what other seeds to buy. Must get on that because spring will be here before we know it. Oh spring, how I love thee.