My Winter Garden

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in Garden Thoughts | 4 comments

Sitting Outside on a Sunny, Mild Day

Garden Journal 5 February 2017The wind blows gently but steadily throughout my winter garden. The chimes provide the melody while the swaying dried grasses create the chorus. There are still leaves blowing about the lawn and the patio seeking a home for the remainder of the winter. I leave them wherever they end up. They will hopefully find some place nice to settle in, sleep and transform. As they decay, they will provide much needed nutrients for the worms within the earth allowing for the cycle of life to complete. All summer they cleaned the air I breathe. Bits of flowing green gathering carbon, singing and dancing allowing the odd insect to have a nibble now and again. As the days grew shorter and the nights cooler, the roots sent the signal to the trunk who sent a signal to the leaves – it is time for rest. The leaves responded. Now, there are only a few clinging dried leaves on the trees but that will change.

It is days like today where I feel the pull to garden a bit stronger than usual. It got up to 65 today and I took a leisurely stroll through the entire garden. If Alice Morse Earle were here, she would be absolutely delighted by the viola blooms. I have two of them if you can believe it! Not to mention, there is a snap dragon beneath the cluster of aspens near the house that still has green leaves. How inspiring nature can be with her tenacity and fortitude.

Winter Snapdragons

Winter Snapdragons

viola flowers

First viola tricolors of 2017

viola tricolor

Winter viola tricolor

Interlude from Old Time Gardens

I wanted to include this segment from Alice’s book “Old Time Gardens”. The words are so wonderful and beautifully characterizes this humble little plant.

For several years the first blossom of the new year in our garden was neither the Snowdrop nor Crocus, but the Ladies’ Delight, that laughing, speaking little garden face, which is not really a spring flower, it is a stray from summer; but it is such a shrewd, intelligent little creature that it readily found that spring was here ere man or other flowers knew it. This dear little primitive of the Pansy tribe has become wonderfully scarce save in cherished old gardens like those of Salem, where I saw this year a space thirty feet long and several feet wide, under flowering shrubs and bushes, wholly covered with the everyday, homely little booms of Ladies’ Delights. They have the party-colored petal of the existing strain of English Pansies, distinct from the French and German pansies, and I doubt not are the cherished garden children of the English settlers. Gerarde describes this little English Pansy or Heartsease in 1587 under the name of Viola tricolor:

“The flouers in form and figure like the Violet, and for the most part of the same Bignesse, of three sundry colours, purple, yellow and white or blew, by reason of the beauty and braverie of which colours they are very pleasing to the eye, for smel they have little or none.”

Signs of Life

It is now nearly 4:30 in the late afternoon and I am sitting outside allowing the setting sun to wash against my face. I filled up all the bird feeders and a group of finches and nuthatches are darting about enjoying a feast of shelled sunflower seeds, whole sunflower seeds and a variety of nuts. In the distance a jay is calling out. Yes, I have food for you as well. Just come and look. I have a whole feeder of cracked corn and whole peanuts just waiting for you.

I went off topic a bit there. As I was saying, I took a leisurely stroll through the entire garden. Beyond the two little brave violas and snapdragons, verbascum leaves are popping up everywhere, the ajuga chocolate chip is also demonstrating its desire to wake from its winter slumber. Well, don’t be fooled my friend. The cold, bitter temperatures will return with a vengeance I am sure. Then again, we may get lucky as we sometimes do and the rest of the winter will be mild. The snow-in-summer leaves are gorgeous right now and they are faring wonderfully. The leaves on the early spring blooming phacelia have been pretty much evergreen. I am already looking for their gorgeous lavender clusters of flowers. Oh! Just near the ajuga and one of the small violas, I can see the tips of some bulbs! The only bulbs in this area are daffodils – unless a squirrel played gardener again. It is a bit early for them but still this provides an early reminder that spring will soon be here.

common verbascum

Common Verbascum Leaves


Snow-In-Summer draping over the retaining wall

spring bulbs

First bulbs of 2017

At the top of the garden in the water smart garden, the silver edged horehound is still green and of course the sedum is draping beautifully over the rocks. Under the kitchen window the dragon’s blood sedum and vinca have been enduring the cold and I know they are eager to stretch their legs a bit. At the bottom of the garden where a grove of bee balms grow, I was amazed by how perfect the creeping Veronica looks. Once those warm days and evenings arrive, I have much to look forward to with this plant.

silver edged horehound

Silver edged horehound

Evergreen sedum

Evergreen sedum

dragon's blood sedum

Dragon’s Blood sedum

Creeping Veronica

Creeping Veronica

The excitement is building and already I have visions of what I hope to see this spring and summer. Last year the anemone Coronaria provided me with some exquisite blooms. I did not remove the corms so I am hoping they will survive the winter though odds would suggest they won’t. The star attraction under the kitchen window where the vinca and sedum grow are the old fashioned irises. Last year I had plenty of foliage but no blooms. I am hoping to be greeted by fragrant blooms this year.

In my mind, I have a myriad of tasks to carry out and it won’t be long before I can get to work. In the interim, the sun is setting on this small winter garden so I should think about getting inside. I ordered some biodegradable pots from Botanical Interests today and when they arrive, I shall get some lobelia and peppers started and maybe a few herbs. I am getting a bit of a head start considering I won’t be able to put my plants into the earth until mid-May. No matter. They can grace the inside of the house with wonder as they emerge and grow all the while staring outside waiting for their day in the summer sun.

I thank you kindly for reading! Blessings to you all and happy gardening!

And now some more winter garden photos!

bee balm seed head in snow

Dried bee balm seed head emerging from melting snow

aspen catkins

The Aspen Catkins are Forming!

dried leaf on garden floor

Dried leaf on garden floor

Dried Leaves of Viburnum lantana 'Mohican'

Dried Leaves of Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’

Ice formations

I had some frozen water in a bucket. I dumped it into the garden and as it thawed, some wonderful designs emerged

Seed Heads

Seed Heads

Garlic Chives Seed Head

Garlic Chives Seed Head

Dried grass

Dried Grass

Dried Roses

Dried Roses


  1. Thank you for sharing your winter garden with me. I so enjoyed the walk and discoveries of little faces and signs of bulbs preparing to share their spring splendor. Your pictures provide wonderful visuals. There is a book here just waiting to be birthed.

  2. I can’t believe your flowers are already coming to life!! So I should be in full bloom here in Arizona- but not so – although there is life returning to my garden also. I am looking forward to your visit, Benjy – see you soon and God bless!

  3. Hi there Gloria,

    Thank you so kindly. I am so happy you enjoyed your visit. One day I may create a gardening book. That would be a fun project.

    Blessings and all the very best,

  4. Hi there Eve!

    Well, it is the little violas. They sometimes greet the garden when there is a bit of warmth. 🙂 If you were to broadcast heirloom viola seeds in September, you would have tons of them right about now I reckon.

    I am looking forward to my visit as well Eve.

    God bless!

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