Tuesday, February 6, 2018


I have to confess that for a number of years we have been away during the month of January. One of the perks of retirement is being able to go away whenever you like and January was always a good time because David suffers badly from cedar fever, caused by the pollinating cedar trees ( Ashe junipers).  But this year we are home. Being away over Christmas we decided to tough it out. I honestly feel that is what I have been doing. First sickness but then fluctuating weather patterns with some very cold nights and days. One day would be spring-like and I would be out there gung ho about the upcoming season and the next the temperatures would drop with a cold wind signaling another cold front. And of course, one again, no rain. That I would be happy to see.
A few things have saved my sanity. One section of my herb garden has fared really well this winter and I have given some thought to why this is. I think the reasons are many.

Bronze fennel and tall dianthus

Calendula with self seeded alyssum Ca poppy and larkspur 
One side of the herb garden is sheltered from the north wind by the wall of the study would be one good reason. In the fall I gave these plants a mulch of vegan compost! Maybe you are as surprised as I was to find there was such a thing but it was a leftover from our visit from Gardeners' Supply. They had been using it to pot up some of their containers. I think my plants liked it. But I also had left one of these over the calendulas and alyssum when we left town before Christmas, just in case.

And it was needed as the temperatures plummeted to 18º and never rose above freezing for 3 days. I am so glad I did because it has lifted my spirits to see something blooming in January.

I'm cheering on my little calamondin tree which is just beginning to flower ensuring a good supply of fruit for marmalade next fall.

The pantry shelf is stocked with jars made from the current crop of oranges and my new trial of lemon marmalade.

Another cheery sight was in the potting shed. Having pulled out a couple of orange tree there was now room for me to get inside. Among the small cactus and succulents on the bench a blooming mammillaria. This one seems to bloom year round.

And that delightful Echeveria 'devotion' I picked up at the grocery store last summer is keeping its color during this cool winter.

Do you have plants which lift your spirits during the winter?


  1. Every year it seems harder to know what to expect weather-wise, no matter where you live. Makes it difficult to decide what to plant or not plant. Certainly trying to discover why some plants are doing OK is worth the effort, especially if you can reproduce those conditions elsewhere in the garden. Very cold here — only 3 degrees as I write. But we got snow which is good, unless the lack of snow has already killed things. I haven't been able to tell just by looking. We are real homebodies and we've both been doing projects that have kept us busy and interested. So nothing blooming anywhere in the garden but it looks lovely in the snow and it is sunny.

  2. I'm glad you found plants to lift your spirits, Jenny. I love the ruby-flushed Echeveria. We too are suffering from a serious shortage of rain but, unlike you, we have no shortage of warm sunshine. While some plants are keeping their usual flowering schedule, others are decidedly confused, some refusing to bloom (due to inadequate winter chill maybe) while others, like my Hong Kong orchid tree, just keep pumping out blooms. I'd held off on much of my winter pruning in the hope that winter would return but now I'm just moving forward in the hope that Mother Nature will straighten things out later on.

  3. We too are suffering through the Cedar season. Feels like it goes on forever! Usually we try and stay away this time of year. The freeze caught me off guard and I will need to replace more than a few plants this year at our country house. At our Austin house, the palm trees look rather sad and the succulents have turned to mush. However spring is not so far away and it is lovely to see that you have blooms! The bit of rain that we had yesterday was a welcome sight.

  4. How wonderful to have some blooming plants in winter! We actually had a snowdrop boom this week, which is amazing here. We try to take a trip or something in winter, too, because our winters are so long. It is the one season when my houseplants actually aren't neglected, though, so they are probably thankful!