I think even more than snow and cold weather, it is the short days that make winter so tiresome. I can bear just about any weather if the sun is shining and I can get outdoors for even a short period. The nights are settling in later, if only by minutes, but it’s tough for a morning person to wait until after 7 am to see the horizon.
I try to paint a positive picture of winter, saying my house would never get cleaned if it weren’t for inclement days when I’m forced to stay indoors. And even if all I can do is observe, as long as I have my family of cardinals in residence, I still have plenty of color in the garden.
But when I’ve finally gotten to the point where I am desperate to plant something and have the scent of warm, damp soil, I know it’s time to start seeds. Too many seeds and always too early, but the lift they give me is worth the effort of keeping them happy until we both can handle the temperatures outdoors. I always make a note to myself, to hold off next year and not jump the season, but my will is weak in February.
I was reading an old article by Anna Pavord* this morning. She was talking about the rewards of keeping a garden journal. I can’t say I’ve always been faithful about keeping mine up to date, or following my own advice, but I make a new effort every year. At one point, I simply kept a photographic journal, to note what was in bloom when, blank spaces that needed filling and when the first tomato ripened. But it’s not the same.
As Anna said, “While that’s a record of sorts, the image can’t describe what the miraculous emergence of hellebores meant to you, or remind you to add a sprinkling of snowdrops underneath, or to lift the tree canopy above them, to give them more light. For that, a notebook, taken regularly into the garden, is invaluable. It’s not exactly a journal: it’s more of a must-do, might-do book.”
It’s easy to neglect making notes, while in the garden. There are so many things vying for your attention there. But I’m finding that as I flip through my photos of last season, I’m making notes now. It’s a little dangerous, since I’m also ordering seeds and plants now and, as I’ve already mentioned, my will power is dwindling faster than the hours of daylight. But along with must-do and might-do, I guess I’ll add make-do.
More lilies. So what if something (rabbits, I suspect) eats a few. I’ll spray them and plant extras. They earn their keep with fragrance and weeks of bloom. More purple poppies. Stagger the plantings so they last longer. (At least I remembered to save their seeds last year.) And for goodness sake, protect the zucchini from the groundhogs. How many years of leafless zucchini plants before I remember this one. No, raising them off the ground will not do the trick. Photos may speak a thousand words, but I’m not always listening.
* The English Garden, Mar 2013, Issue 96, Pg. 54