The month is drawing to a close and I can hardly stand the anticipation for spring. Unlike other years, this has been a particularly mild winter. Franky, I’ve missed the snow and polar vortex. I miss normal. Yet, it’s hard to stay unaffected by all the early signals of spring. Makes me feel the need to fast forward the to-do list for spring garden chores. Yet, that voice of reason in my head whispers Not so fast – winter just might decide to make a big comeback with all the drama and power we know she’s capable of.
I’m doing my best to listen to that caution. List is on hand, plans are set, plants sourced, aspirations declared. Now, it is simply a matter of waiting. All in good time. I really don’t mind waiting as I worry that an early spring could be cut short by an early, protracted summer. That’s not good at all. We’d have to relearn gardening as we know it.
It might well be that, the inevitable, the unavoidable, the unthinkable has already arrived and settled in. Climate change has begun and we’d best acknowledge it. Gardeners are after all , the first responders of the horticultural world. This is a call to unite, act, impact, influence, protect. The moment is nigh.
part leaden skies
Frost and fire
earth shifts and sighs..
at Spring’s gate.
melts in drips
send hearts aflutter
Weather and emotions
soar and splutter.
– Shobha Vanchiswar
Note: Just to make a point, I offer no images this week. Imagine a world without flowers or fruit. No beautiful gardens. If we don’t do the right thing, that’ll become a reality.
Some months take on a single meaning. December is for the holidays, July for the fourth, September is about school, November is Thanksgiving and February is all love. I like that as it gives some motivation to stay engaged and celebrate life’s moments.
Valentine’s day can feel a bit over-hyped, too twee and bring undue pressure on those who are single or going through a rough patch in a relationship. But these days it has become a much more inclusive day for expressing love. We include everybody in our circle – spouse/significant others, children, friends (Galentine’s day!). To that list, I add the garden as it is a living thing; it’s a good day to express some love to that which nurtures me so wholly all year round.
Since winter has been indecisive this year, I took advantage of yet another mild day last Sunday and went scanning for signs of stirring in the garden. Just a week ago, there was barely nothing to coo over. But now! Snowdrops have bashfully shown up. That set my heart aflutter. What is it about these diminutive bells that cause them to ring so loud in our psyche?
The hellebores too seem to have decided its time to awaken. One in particular made me smile – it bears near black flowers and the buds were sitting like plump berries glinting in the afternoon light. Others, in their tight, elongated forms could not compete. In a couple of weeks I will cut back the protective old leaves so the opening buds can show off their beauty.
I heard the birds go about their business as though it were normal to be so active in February. It is concerning that they might begin nesting a too early. A blast of severe winter weather could be just around the corner. Usually, I put up a nesting wreath to assist the birds – a simple circle of grapevine bearing threads of cotton or jute, pieces of moss, bits of ribbon ( natural material of course) and some twigs. Not right now though. It’s too soon. Perhaps in early March if it continues to be unseasonably mild.
Meanwhile, the Calamondin oranges are bringing some juicy color to the greenhouse. The fruits hang like pretty ornaments. Not particularly good for eating, they do add something to a cocktail of vodka with a shot of St. Germain.
So cheers! Happy Valentine’s Day everybody. Take a moment to walk around the garden with gratitude and affection in your heart. Better yet, walk with those you love.
Observe the heart shaped bay leaf amidst the normal ones!
Where did January go? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we welcomed in 2020? But here we are in February, just past the mid-point of winter. And yesterday, the New York metropolitan area enjoyed a spring-ish (yes, spring) day. Which, while out of place for this month, put me in a mind to start thinking about spring. That’s a mere six weeks away!
There are plans to make, tasks to schedule and things to get ready. Click here for a list of February chores. It’s a good comprehensive register and will get you on the right track.
Last Sunday, the grape vine was pruned. Typically, that chore is done later in the month but, given the atypically mild winter we’ve had thus far, it seemed prudent to do it ahead of time.
A friend is starting some seeds for me and I’m ever so grateful. My greenhouse is so crammed with overwintering plants that there’s no room for seed flats. Besides, my travel/work schedule is a bit more hectic this season so it is particularly nice to have one less thing to do.
Much to my family’s relief, the hyacinths I had cooling in the refrigerator ( taking up prime real estate) are slowly coming out for forcing. Observing the daily progress of these bulbs sustains me enormously. It’s funny how something as simple as that can have such a profoundly uplifting effect on the mood.
The charming pots of primroses at my area Whole Foods proved irresistible. I now have five of them in different crayon-box colors cheering up the kitchen.
Both, hyacinth bulbs and primroses will find a home in the garden once they’ve finished blooming.
In the garden, February can be an austere month. But really, it is a month of promise of the beauty and bounty to come. It provides that quiet window before spring bursts forth rambunctiously and all hands must be on deck to cope with the myriad garden chores.
February is that plain looking gift that waits patiently for its value to be discovered.
February 2 marks the mid-point of winter – it falls in the middle of the winter solstice and the spring equinox. That’s correct, we’ve just passed the halfway mark. It was marked by a spectacular sunset. February 2 is also called Candlemas day – that’s when, in the very old days before electricity, folks would replenish their supply of candles to illuminate the rest of the cold, dark season. The candles would be blessed at a special mass. As a secular individual, I find this tradition comforting. It unites people in the effort to pass the season well.
definitely not a fan of Groundhog’s Day. In my opinion, it only
serves to highlight a time when humans applied superstition and not
science to drive our actions. The very thought of rudely disturbing a
sleeping creature to emerge out into the still cold day strikes me as
particularly cruel and
archaic. If it were me
instead of some vulnerable groundhog, I’d be mad as hell. Wouldn’t
emerged from a week of polar vortex shenanigans, this halftime feels
really good. The temperatures on Sunday and Monday shot up to spring
like numbers. While I’m not complaining ( it was delicious to feel
the sun as I walked around the garden sans jacket), that spike in
temperature is cause for some concern.
We’re slowly settling into more
seasonable temperature. Hallelujah.
advantage of the weather on Sunday, I spent some time wandering
around the garden searching for signs of rebirth. Coming out of a
deep freeze, there were still patches of ice in an otherwise brown,
lackluster landscape. But on closer examination, I spotted some
encouraging indications of the season to come. Then I noticed small
bulbs lying scattered around the ‘meadow’ – the freezing and
thawing had thrown them up from their comparatively shallow homes in
the ground. Said ground is frozen hard at present so I cannot replace
the bulbs. Instead, they shall remain in a pot of soil until the
great thaw occurs. I’m a tad unhappy with this situation. Those
small bulbs bloom early and are crucial to my vision of how this area
rolls out the flowers so, I
resent this casual tossing behavior with no regard for the investment
of time, money and energy on my part. Oh
well. I remain at Nature’s
hellebores are also beginning to stir. Slowly. The new growth is
still working up courage to get going. I love feeling the surge of
anticipation in my veins.
the greenhouse, the citrus are having their moment. Makes it all very
leads me to
pretend I have a limonaria.
harvest the first lemon. How best to use this precious fruit is my
happy dilemma. Make lemon curd? Salad dressing? Lemon pound cake? So
calamondin oranges are looking quite
lovely. They aren’t really edible as they’re small, very seedy
and sour. But, they lend a certain sophisticated flavor when speared
into a vodka martini. A branch of these oranges makes
a dining table look very festive – turns
a routine gathering into a party.
the forced hyacinths are coming along nicely. This waiting is always
most exciting to me. It’s like a child’s giddy expectation in
the days leading up to Christmas.
also picked up some inexpensive primroses -their flowers in
crayon-box colors are so
heartwarming. They are quite a contrast to the very elegant looking
white orchid that’s been in bloom since early December. FYI
– Orchids are really great
value for the money.