The post-gardening months of November and December were remarkable as 2015 came to a close. It was unusally warm as autumn transitioned into winter. And, for the first time that I can remember, the outdoor water spigots were still open on December 31st. (I just shut them off this week vs. the standard ritual of this happening by Thanksgiving weekend.)
Either Mother Nature was offering penance for last winter’s historic snowfall in New Hampshire, or she was just resting up for the coming New Year.
Most notable as the year ended, an amazing sight appeared on Christmas Day. Mother Nature offered the gift of a single viola (Johnny Jump Up) blossom in an area of the garden that is literally ‘between a rock and a hard place’. The honeysuckle on the back trellis pushed out a few orange-pink blooms, as well. It was a sunny, warm day on December 25th (the First Day of Christmas!) So warm in fact, the furnace was off for the day and the windows and doors had to be opened…..oh, and yes, the flowers were blooming!
It was so different from Christmas Days past when it was almost impossible to go outside with temperatures in the single digits. But as always in New England, you just need to wait for a moment (or two) and everything changes. Snow and ice finally arrived four days later and the garden is now under a soft white blanket to sleep for the next few weeks.
Don’t let a sleeping garden fool you. Now is the most exciting time of the year for this garden blogger. January is the month when I find that gardening activities are the most focused and important.
I browse the hundreds of photos that I’ve taken over the past season and make notes of what needs to be moved and removed. And this year, I’m adding the best photos from the season to my new Garden with Grace on Instagram page to complement this blog.
I flip through catalogues that still arrive by mail in January and February to see what is marked “NEW!” for 2016.
I read old gardening books and journals that are stored in my potting shed. And this year, I’m reading a new book (a thoughtful Christmas gift from my friend Liz) that is a fascinating guide, called Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities
I confer with my mother (my gardening mentor and co-gardener!) about plans for the coming spring. Our discussions over the past few years always involve the same three basic questions:
- Should we start some things from seed? (No. Not after that time in 2009 when we ended up with nearly 200 red solo cups of seedlings in our sun/garden room.)
- Will we order any special or “NEW!” plants to add to the landscape? (No. Let’s mark what we want from the catalogues and patronize local nurseries in the spring, instead.)
- What are we going to do with the two areas of grass that died again? (Don’t know yet. But the grass from my Sad Sod Situation story, just over a year ago needs attention again!)
These questions will no doubt be brought up in the coming weeks (usually during an evening ritual that my grandfather called ‘Coffee Break’. Others call it Cocktail Hour!) No matter the season or time of year, gardening is a 365 day obsession in my home.
So here it is, my 2016 Gardening Epiphany that arrived on January 6, the 12th Day of Christmas: You can take the Gardener of out of the Garden, but you can never take the Garden out of the Gardener.