Category: winter garden
December 03, 2012
To avoid winter dryness and to add safe, non-toxic fragrances to your home, try picking aromatherapy herbs directly from the garden. We simmer pots of water filled with freshly-picked sprigs, spices and fruits on the stove. This is a fantastic way to keep your house smelling great, your skin from chapping, and you can do it without spending a penny. All it takes is a quick trip to the garden, a few cups of water, and a heat source.
From Christmas-y fragrances to clarifying and calming blends, we’ve put together a few mixture ideas to get you started.
Read on for more from our post from Decembers-past…
(Original post from December 19, 2008 follows)
As my friend Kim wrote elsewhere, I’m preparing for day 4 of my captivity. Between a nasty head cold, frigid temps, and frozen icy roads, I’m pretty well home bound these days. And with outdoor temps staying well below freezing as dry, cold arctic winds rage in from the north, our furnace is running nearly non-stop. Result: indoor humidity is dropping, which doesn’t help my sinuses (or skin or hair or lips or attitude) at all. And, the Christmas tree seems to dry out just a little faster when the indoor air humidity is low despite how full we keep the water reservoir.
I spent many of my growing-up years in a woodstove-heated farmhouse in Virginia. The heat was toasty, but we always battled dry heat. To remedy this we kept a heavy kettle filled with water on each of the stoves. The kettle produced steam that helped humidify the air. We had to be vigilant about refilling the kettle regularly, but depending on how high the stove was running, we generally only had to refill it a couple of times a day.
These days I don’t have a wood stove, but I do have a kitchen stove where I keep a small pot of water going all winter. I have tried commercial humidifiers in the past, but I’m not sold on them. To add interest and fragrance to the house, there are a few things we add to our makeshift humidifier. Spice blends add holiday aromas. Herb blends add relaxing and healing fragrances that help keep a closed up, stale house a bit more fresh. Consider trying out a blend one of the following blends in your own home. If you’re missing one of the ingredients, try the remaining ones or mix-it-up yourself. The worst thing that can happen is you dump it out in the compost and start over.
Christmas Spice Blend
- 1 T whole cloves
- 1 tangerine, orange or other citrus peel
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 slice fresh or candied ginger
Garden Herb Blends: Even if your plants are frozen, dust off the snow and ice to take a few cuttings. They don’t need to look lovely to do the trick. Keep in mind, some herb combos like rosemary + sage may make it smell like you’re cooking dinner. Recipes follow. (more…)
February 27, 2012
Camellia sasanqua is known as a fall or winter-blooming Camellia. But, mine seems to want to wait until closer to spring to strut its stuff.
Years ago, I was given a tiny but beautiful Yuletide camellia as a Christmas gift. When I received it, it had a few lingering blooms still on it.
That’s the thing, growers push these young’ns all to bloom in fall. This gets them looking their best just in time for those doing last autumn installations to snap them up and pop them into the garden before everything comes to a screeching halt for winter. And with a name like Yuletide, we’re all expecting these gorgeous evergreens to bloom in time for Christmas, right?
After that first year, my potted Camellia continued to bloom sometime in winter — usually right after Christmas. Never at Christmas. So much for being a entry decoration for the holidays.
Then, the time came to plant it in the ground. And guess what happened then?
Yes, it grew larger. But, it also began to bloom later and later each year.
That is, if it bloomed at all.
Those tough blossoms definitely don’t care for a hard winter freeze, and if they get hit hard enough. They turn black & fall off the bush. Last year that happened to mine, and I got only a measly handful of pretty blooms.
This year was mild. We did have one icy blast that hit just as the Camellia was getting ready to bloom. I assumed it would drop its buds, but despite getting frozen and a late start opening, it is putting on its showiest display ever.
I’m reminded that these shrubs are definitely worth growing in the Pacific Northwest. Evergreen. Colorful. And kinda consistently bloom during the “off season”.
But guess what? These beautiful 2012 blooms started opening right around Valentine’s day.
So who’s with me? I propose we rename this one: Camellia sasanqua ‘Valentine’.
It sure as hell isn’t opening any gifts for us during the Yuletide anymore.
January 03, 2012
I’m ready to grow again. And thank goodness for that!
2011 will not be remembered as one of my favorite years, and I’m glad to have recycled that calender and moved on to a new one.
As I look back at the last year, I’m glad for many things. I had the great fortune to work with the Growing a Greener World TV team writing, researching and brainstorming a number of season two episodes. I took an amazing road trip in late summer with friends to the first annual Heirloom Expo in Petaluma, California. I cheered on my amazing clients as they grew in their gardens. I planted seeds and watched them grow — some little things truly were great.
But, too many of my loved ones struggled with serious injury and illness. Neighbors I count as family moved away. The summer weather could barely be counted as summery. And, as the year progressed, I began to distance myself from my own garden in anticipation of leaving it for new ground. And, as we raced toward this change, my own health took a downturn in early winter, probably due to overwhelming stress I found myself unable to properly manage. My sister pointed out how it seemed my body — or perhaps the universe — was signaling “stop & stay put”. We did stop, and for now we are staying. And my garden is where I will find peace and balance in the coming year.
But here I am today — healthy again — and I’m vitalized by the exciting garden year ahead. I’m diving into a bevy of new articles for Fiskars, scheduling exuberant clients, organizing my 2012 Northwest Flower & Garden Show presentation, and making new garden plans for myself in the year ahead.
My garden planning for 2012 began last night as a dream in which my fractured relationship with my own garden was mended. In the dream, I thrust my bare, clinched fists deep into the cold, moist soil, reuniting me with the heart of my garden. My hands opened underground, and my fingers spread and grew like the pancake root-ball of a tree with carrot-like tap root fingertips, connecting me to the soil and back into my garden where I felt I again belonged.
In my haste to move and later overwhelmed by illness, I had strayed from my garden — abandoning my truest self — in the waning months of 2011. Now it’s time for me to awaken, dig in and be one with my beloved garden again — even if changes may come later. If the early bloomers and persistent weeds are hinting at anything, it’s that the garden and the seasons and time itself won’t pause forever.
January 18, 2011
There’s nothing like a defoliated evergreen in January to make our gardens look especially awful. Quite frequently evergreens are selected specifically because they add winter interest to the garden. So, when they decide to follow the lead of their deciduous cousins and go naked for the winter, our gardens become particularly unappealing. And, sadly, many a new gardener wonders what in the world they did wrong and how in the world they’ll afford to replace all those dead twiggy things throughout their beds.
I’m here to give you hope & ways to determine if your plant is actually alive and what to do when to reinvigorate it.
When we had an early November freeze in Seattle, client calls and emails began rolling in desperate for help understanding why their gardens were dying when we had selected plants that typically do just fine in really cold weather.
In many cases, I found myself reminding clients that some shrubs are semi-evergreen in our climate. Shrubs like Lonicera ‘Lemon Beauty’ and Abelia ‘Confetti’ will hold foliage and look fantastic through our milder winters, but when we get hit by an early cold snap or several successive freezes they’ll shed leaves fast, protecting their inner assets. When these guys lose their leaves, I don’t much worry.
But, when plants like Sarcococca and Nandina begin a big leaf drop mid-winter, I get a little more worried. As I mentioned last week, my own Sarcococca has defoliated quite a bit, but the plants are fine & smell lovely. My Cotoneaster lacteus is another story. Every leaf and every berry was severely burned in the cold; the birds got nadda to eat from it this winter, and I’m beginning to wonder what it’ll look like come spring bud break. Will it be an opportunity to try something new in its spot? My Nandina has taken a bit of a hit, dropping a few leaves but holding its skeleton-like petioles. My client’s description of her Nandina, on the other-hand, had me concerned. (more…)
January 13, 2011
Winter Bloomers are a salvation this time of year when everything else seems to be some shade of dreary gray. In addition to injecting color back into our worlds, they attract colorful birds and bees and quite often pack a powerfully fragrant punch. So when they don’t, well winter’s just that much more of a bummer. Wondering why your winter bloomers are failing to please this year or looking for ways to remedy future problems?