As a gardener one thing you learn very quickly is that that no two gardening years are the same.
We have returned from our winter travels, albeit a short one of only 14 days, to some pretty sad scenes in the garden. Of course, I have seen it all before whether it be spring, summer or winter. Probably the most devastating was a terrible hail storm at the height of the spring flowering. Much was lost, some of it taking more than two years to be realized. When I left the garden, many times for 6 weeks in summer, exuberant growth is what met me on my return, as well as weeds, an unwelcome rattlesnake who had taken up residence in my absence, and on one occasion a pair of foxes.
What you don't expect is to have trouble leaving the garden in the winter. We always turn off the water when we leave and move the less hardy plants into the garage, greenhouse, potting shed and even the house. But this year the cold was prolonged and deep and some of my hardiest plants have succumbed. The soap aloes, which I had divided giving them each their own space in which to grow, instead of on top of one another, are soft mush. Will those long cold days and nights be the end of my Philippine violets? Even my ghost plant did not find refuge among the rocks in the sunken garden.
And yet!!! This photograph was taken on January 6th 2017 as we returned from a New Year visit to Connecticut. That was my concrete fish fountain underneath all that ice, the fountain still trickling.It crumbled apart after it thawed out.
Really not much different from this year when I used a sledge hammer to break the 2" thick ice.
I almost couldn't wait for the New Year to begin so I could make plans for the 2018 garden year. What visions went through my head while among all that tropical foliage and balmy Caribbean air. What a shocker to hear gardening friends lamenting the strong cold front that stuck around night and day for 3 days. Of all years too, when my garden will be on a tour. But, the gardener presses on undaunted. Today the sun is shining and I am thinking about starting some seeds. I have moved all the orchids out of the laundry room to make way for seed starting. I have ordered a couple of plants and a grow light system. I walked around the garden and saw the bluebonnets are strong and healthy, the love-in-a-mist, California poppies, larkspur, rose campion and Barbara's buttons have shrugged off winter's cold. Bulbs are beginning to peep through the soil. Even the scarlet flax survived. In the days to come I will begin a tidy up of all the dead annual zinnias as I start new ones indoors.
I'm feeling better already.