March 01, 2012

Garden lessons learned: winter 2011-12

'First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus—
Crocus.'

~Lija Rogers



I'm thrilled to be putting February 2012 in the rearview mirror. I've heard other cold-climate gardeners say similar things about Februarys, in general. Time to move on. Yes, early spring can be unpredictable as the poem extols, but it also brings us the Crocus, the Hellebore, and the Snowdrop, among other spring beauties.

Spring also brings a new opportunity: Donna at Gardens Eye View and I decided a few weeks ago to collaborate on two complementary memes: PlantPostings' Garden Lessons Learned and Gardens Eye View's Seasonal Celebrations. As we discussed the logistics of our collaboration, we realized an interesting connection. "Lessons Learned" looks backward to the recent past, while "Seasonal Celebrations" looks ahead to cherished holidays and traditions of the season ahead.

We also commented about how both of us tend to be people who live in the moment, or at least that's our goal.

In any case, never does the intertwining of the past and future seem so evident as when the season is changing. Donna and I invite you to participate in these two memes—either through a post that covers both, or two separate posts, or just one meme.


To start things off with Lessons Learned from the winter rapidly leaving us, here are winter "garden" lessons I've learned:

1. Gardening can take over your life year-round, if you want it to. Before I started blogging, winter was more a time away from gardening. Oh, I'd do a little planning, and I'd glance through an occasional garden book or catalog. But now with blogging, visiting blogs, and "pinning" on Pinterest, gardening is at the forefront of my free time even during the winter. And I'm just fine with that!

2. It is possible, and actually quite easy, to keep cats away from houseplants. Cages, cloches, and terrariums allow you to safely display indoor plants and keep naughty felines's paws out of them. A side benefit of a terrarium or cloche is that very little care is required once the plants are establish under glass.

3. Don't worry about plants that bud early. Nature has a way of taking care of itself. My Hydrangea started to break bud in November. I worried that it would be damaged by the cold winter ahead of it, but the buds have simply stayed in a state of suspended animation—waiting for true spring to arrive. And it now appears the Hydrangea will be just fine.

4. Find gardener friends who live in the opposite hemisphere or warmer climates. Their blogs will help you keep the faith when you face unchanging gray landscapes and late winter snowstorms. What a joy it has been to travel through cyberspace to visit lush gardens in South Africa, Malaysia, Australia, and the southern U.S.!


As we move into spring here in Wisconsin, we've seen the howling blizzards and the rains mentioned at the beginning of this post. And now we look forward to the more colorful season ahead.

Last year's Crocus

Please share your "Lessons Learned" by adding your link to this "Mr. Linky" widget:



Please Join Us:

I hope you'll join us for these special memes. Your posts can be anything you want them to be. And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Donna and her Seasonal Celebrations meme. What lessons have you learned this past season? Then tell us about your wishes, desires, and dreams for the new season.

The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you're joining in for both memes, please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Donna and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice or the equinox. And we'll keep those posts linked on a page on our blogs. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear—we will include your link on the special blog page.

Happy spring (or fall, for gardeners in the southern hemisphere)!

Note: Here's the code to add the Lessons Learned widget to your blog:
<a href="http://plantpostings.blogspot.com/p/lessons-learned.html"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wRzI5-i0_L8/Ttv6mtKe36I/AAAAAAAABZw/tt5zy0_ZS-0/s600/gardenlessons.jpg" height="183" width="250"/></a>

30 comments:

  1. I agree that with on the online stimulation gardening never really gets a rest. There is just so much inspiration from blogs and pinterest my mind never stops. It has definitely brought more creativity and whimsy to my garden. I love your snow photos. We didn't get anything interesting this winter (no snow, no ice ...)

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    1. Thanks for participating, Karin. In some ways, avoiding the snow and cold can be a good thing. Seems we all get anxious around this time of year to get out and dig in the dirt!

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  2. So excited to be joining you Beth...I love your lessons and especially visiting gardens around the world during winter ...it does help the months pass quickly.

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    1. Thanks for the inspiration and collaboration, Donna! I will be writing my seasonal celebrations post next! Cheers!

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  3. Really enjoyed the crocus poem and I'm going to be scouring flea markets for old bird cages to keep the cats out of the houseplants.

    I got a sense of how frustrating February has been for northerners this week when my inlaws visited us from Vermont. While we were grilling and eating on our back deck last night they were mourning the flight home this morning to more days of snow. Here's hoping your crocus visit you very very soon!

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    1. Thanks, Eliza! I know -- I like the look of the cages around the plants. Good luck with your flea market shopping! We got another blast of snow today, and it's supposed to snow lightly all weekend. Then we shift to highs in the 50s next week! Grilling and eating on the deck sounds wonderful. Enjoy!

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  4. I'm so sorry, Beth, my poor English doesn't allow me to partecipate to your meme...
    I really enjoyed the poem about spring!

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    1. Dona: Your English is excellent! I wish I could speak Italian. I have very little confidence with languages, but I love to listen to French, Italian, and Spanish, because I can understand bits and pieces of the conversation. All are beautiful languages! I would welcome your link in your own language--you always have great photos and helpful thoughts to share. Ciao!

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  5. #1 is true for me too. It is nice to have time to do those things during the winter, because summer is so busy. But I am sooooo ready for spring to get here!! Here's hoping the warm weather trend continues and gives us an early spring this year.

    Amy

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    1. Yes, I'm thrilled that we'll have spring weather next week--especially after today's snowstorm! I feel so bad for the people affected by the tornadoes. A little snow is a lot easier to deal with than severe storms.

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  6. I agree about looking forward and forgetting last winter. Now if it only was not just starting! Our weather has been a seesaw or differing temperatures and hopefully, we start seeing a sign of Spring. You explained the coordination of your memes very well. Again, I have little in the way of lessons learned, but will join in with the winter interest trees.

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    1. Thanks for linking in, Donna. Yeah, we just got a big winter blast yesterday. It made for some amazing winter scenes because some of the trees are budding out, so the snow really clings to the branches. And it's justifying our investment in new snowblower. But now I'm ready to move ahead with spring. :)

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  7. I've always thought the best part about February is that it's the shortest month of the year:) I agree that gardening can be a year-round occupation, thanks to blogging. I'm not sure I've learned any lessons this past winter, but thanks to you, I did learn how to make a terrarium. I finally put mine together!

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    1. February always seems the longest to me. It will be fun to compare notes about our terrariums, Rose. Thanks!

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  8. Can I connect a post I wrote a while back? I'm always learning from my garden. As soon as I step outside, the roles are reversed and I'm the student. That's ok with me! Your idea to connect with bloggers in other climates is wise. It's always fun to see gardens in the southern hemisphere in the middle of our winter. It's a reminder that winter is temporary even if it doesn't feel like it.

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    1. Of course! I agree--there will always be something to learn about plants and gardening. We're getting our snowiest days in March so far! We had a 5-inch snowfall on Friday, and it has been snowing all weekend. Pretty, but I'm a bit tired of it now. :) Yes, please join in with a previous post!

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  9. Some useful lessons to remember, Beth. I've taken your suggestion and linked my February end-of-month post to this meme, too.

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    1. Thanks, Lyn. Your garden is much more exciting than mine right now. Although change is on the way...under the snow here. :) Happy autumn to you!

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  10. Beth, here is the link to my post on your meme. Your snow photos bring back my days in Michigan! Thanks for hosting the meme.

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    1. Thanks for joining in, Sheila! Michigan feels like home to me, too. Our family spent a lot of vacation days there when I was a child. I'm ready for the snow to be gone now, though. Happy spring!

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  11. Oh, my - #1 is so true! But, what a wonderful obsession! :) I'm joining in today with a post for both your and Donna's memes together.

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    1. That is so true, Holley! I can't imagine my life without it. Thanks for joining in. I have a book review in mind for March 20. It's a good one!

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  12. I have watched my hydrangea buds with wonder as they began to open, and then they paused...depending upon the weather. Nature has so many miracles and is so resilient against such incredible odds.

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    1. That is so weird. I've never seen that happen before (or maybe I just didn't notice). Seems like plants that partially break bud will just burst with the first warm weather. We didn't have Maples breaking bud until late April last year, and this year they're starting already!

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  13. Just found your blog- very nice - love the gardening community!

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    1. Thanks, Mo! Yes, this is a great group, isn't it?! And so much to learn and share with each other.

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  14. http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2012/03/walk-in-my-garden.html

    Two lessons that have taken nearly five years to hit home!

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    1. Thanks for joining in, Diana. You always have so many wise words and great ideas to share. I really appreciate your participation--for so many reasons, including learning lessons from people in the Southern Hemisphere!

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  15. I can relate to all your lessons! Sorry my post was a bit late this time but better late than never :)

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    1. Hey Christine: No, you're not late. I won't compile the wrap-up until the Equinox. Thanks so much for joining in, and also for representing the Southern Hemisphere. Cheers!

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