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Winter is closing in on the heels of Fall, with short days, long, endless nights and very dark mornings. As gardeners, we let the haunting memories of all that was green and growing sweep over us…. and we hesitate to go into the garden at all for fear that the sodden shrubs, or patches of frosty, rotting leaves will leave a permanent mark.
So it might be time to re-think things, and look at the bones of the garden; stop for a few moments when that magical blue dusk begins to morph into evening.. and see the garden for what it is… when the curtain of night drops and all is dark, and the garden is at last, asleep.
The only light is from a distant moon that seems brighter as though making up for the dismal sight of a sleeping garden.
We can see the shapes and layout of the beds and think about what would fit in, or make the Winter garden show more style. Evergreen shrubs and trees can make a difference - with or without a snow blanket. Or what about a shrub that offers winter berries.. Even bare trees offer up graceful silhouettes and some even sport coloured stems. Much to think about.
But December is a time for other things too.
For me? It's Christmas…(see more)
“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” Washington Irving.
The loss of my garden begins to pale, knowing that December means the Christmas season. Reds, greens, candlelight, food and friends. …and snow…And it isn’t about the presents, because I have learned that our presence is enough. No matter what we have or don’t have, there is much to be thankful for. If we find one thing every day, that is a good start. Perhaps some days, as John Wayne said, it’s a good day when we wake up.
December is also a month for different celebrations too, besides Christmas; like Hanukkah, or Bodhi Day; - but there are many other significant days such as: Saints days, independence and human rights days, birth days, and, of course, winter solstice.
It is a month when we think of others perhaps more than any other month. Funnily enough, the flower for December is the Narcissus - meaning self-love.
Some have even declared the first day of December as Giving Day- after days like Black Friday and much shopping.
Perhaps we can apply this “giving” to our gardens too. They have given us, at a least in the Northern Hemisphere, almost three seasons of some sort of glory… so now, we give back by adding compost, hilling up roses, and generally putting the gardens to bed so they may finally get the rest they will need to start giving all over again in the Spring.
Perhaps now, it is time for us to think about what worked and what didn’t; making notes of what we liked and what we didn’t. (we took lots of photos, right?)
And, time for some indoor flowers in pots.
The common but beautiful Poinsettia… traditionally in deep pure reds, and now in white and pink.
HINT: keep it moist but not wet or too dry; it needs light but not heat.
This photo from the Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain...
They are everywhere; gorgeous colours and so bright and perky, but personally, I have not had much success, so I got some hints from Judith Martin (GardenMaking.com)
Or the popular Christmas Cactus: this gorgeous little plant needs dormancy to bloom,… so starting in October (oops, a bit late now - ) water less - let the bottom layer dry out. Then it needs 12 to 14 hours of darkness (long naps) in order to encourage it to bloom by Christmas. They like west windows but not south…. I am no expert on indoor plants, so for more info on both this and the Poinsettia, look on the net…. lots there.
One thing I did learn, is that the USA has its own cactus that blooms around their Thanksgiving… now… the flowers point upwards whereas the actual Christmas Cactus has flowers that point down like these.
We could also “force” some bulbs like those self-loving Narcissus - they love to bloom and fill the room with their (glorious or dreadful- depending on your taste) fragrance… they will not be ignored.
But for me, I miss the garden so it’s time to put some lights and greenery outdoors… pots and swags and wreaths.. at least the green will stay all Winter and when finally done, it will be time for Spring.
In the meantime, cozy up with plaid blankets and pillows, deer and candles on the window sill welcoming others home with green swags on the mantel and a fire softly glowing… time to tuck in like our gardens.