Ice on the pumpkin

These days it’s dark when we wake up in the morning and dark when we sit down for dinner. Alas….winter weather has arrived and we’ve had a few nights of very cold temperatures. It seems too early for freezing weather but, yes, it’s here. Overnight last week I lost my annuals.  I don’t plant many but ‘Hawaii Blue’ ageratum is a must. It’s a dependable plant that flowers all summer and carries the color of my lavender through other areas of the garden. I always buy two flats of seedlings at a local nursery.

This was a couple of weeks ago:

ageratum Blue Hawaii

This is after the first hard freeze:

ageratum Blue Hawaii

Oh well.  It’s all in the life of an annual. The cleome or spider flower that was glorious and fed the monarchs and bees not long ago melted into a heap of green and brown slime overnight.

cleome 2018

Not all is lost. In with the cold weather arrived our delightful winter birds! Juncos and white-throated sparrows blew down from the northern climes with one of the coastal storms. Flocks of bluebirds have stopped for a visit for the last two weeks. Some might venture south. Some might stay with us for the winter.

Grasses in the garden are giving us a show… especially my favorite native switchgrass, ‘Northwind,’ upright and 5′ tall in full bloom right now. Soon the blades will turn a golden shade and be glorious in the winter garden.

'Northwind' switchgrass 2018

I added some ‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass to another area of the garden this fall and anticipate the winter foliage will turn a lovely burgundy as promised. It’s not as tall and not as upright as ‘Northwind’ but just as hardy. Let’s hope it does not disappoint.

And so we seem to have more overcast days, more wet weather, snow in parts of the state but we are ready. The furnace is working. The fireplace is clean. Wood is stacked…. and our new addition is finished and furnished.  Life is good.

First daffodil today…

Today our first daffodil bloomed. What a breath of pure springtime it was, but this one won’t last. Tomorrow it will be gone.

New bloom!

Last week we experienced several delightful warm days culminating in a pretty steamy 80°. Everyone I saw was in shorts and tees, driving convertibles, walking dogs, lunching at cafe tables outside of restaurants.

Me? I was having dirty thoughts… that is, thoughts of getting my hands in the dirt. It was impossible to think of anything but planting so I spent the three days scouring the surrounding area for nurseries that had ANY flowers, herbs, shrubs. And I did come home bearing herbs… lots of herbs and some pansies, a hose, more mulch, and compost.

For two days, I designed, then raked, dug, composted, edged and mulched a precious new kitchen garden. I planted succulent little herbs around a small birdbath. I whistled while I worked. Neighbors who strolled by commented how nice things looked, but I noticed no one else was gardening. Everyone seemed to be outside but not one person was raking, edging, dragging mulch or hose here or there like I was.

Now I know why. I know why the sales lady told me not to plant the herbs. I know why the nurseries were bare. I know why the neighbors walked instead of gardened. Tonight we are having a hard freeze. Already the water in the birdbath has turned to solid ice. I wonder what my neighbors were really thinking when they saw me toiling in the soil. I wonder what they thought today as they saw me dragging out towels to cover the plants. “Silly girl… Doesn’t she know this is Zone 5?”