January 20, 2015

Finding Garden Treasures During the January Thaw

snow

How does a hardy Wisconsin gal prepare for a garden walk-around on a mild day during a January thaw?

window view

First, she looks out the upstairs window and surveys the landscape.

"Frankly, it looks kinda blah," she says to herself.

"Then again, the snow is mostly melted. Maybe there's something fun to discover out there ..."

boots

So, she slips on her heavy-duty snow boots ...

gear

Throws on a lightweight denim coat and gloves with fingers (for ease in operating her camera) ...

And begins to discover extraordinary beauty in very simple things.

lamium

Soft, evergreen Lamium plants under the receding snow.

sedge

A thriving sedge she transplanted into a pot last summer.

echinacea

Evidence that birds have gained sustenance from the Echinacea plants.

swing

The worn but welcoming backyard swing.

sedum

The surprisingly vivid glow of the dried Sedums.

moss

Amazing mosses thriving in their perfectly cool growing conditions.

buds

Buds on the Lilac bush waiting for their time to shine.

fungi

A long, decaying log covered in lacy fungi.

fungi2

Is this Trametes versicolor? Or Bjerkandera adusta? Something else? (I'm consulting with mycologists behind the scenes to find out.)

bench

Before she heads inside, she sits briefly on the bench at the back of the woods.

black oak

And as she approaches the house, she notices a large Black Oak leaf--larger than her hand. Why does this hefty, impressive leaf make her smile?

Perhaps because she feels so thankful for the great gift of a simple walk on a mild winter day.

Nature Notes on Rambling Woods

54 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post to inspire those of us who live in cold climates to get out..... Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle. :) I wasn't excited to go outside, but it was ridiculous on my part because it actually was a very pleasant day. So, it was a lesson to me, as well. You're right: We simply must get out and enjoy our surroundings--in all seasons.

      Delete
  2. If you have an eye for it, there is always something beautiful to see in nature. Great pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, so true! And thank you. Always simple treasures to find if we bother to look. All we need is a little push, warm boots, coats, and observation skills.

      Delete
  3. That colourful fungus is really something!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's pretty striking. We got a fresh snowfall overnight, so I'm planning to head out later to get more pics of it with snow.

      Delete
  4. You certainly found a beautiful things along your walk. The little surprises can be be rewarding. Susie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow the "big picture" of the backyard didn't excite me. But the little treasures were incredibly rewarding this time. It's been a very comfortable winter, actually, so far. So I'm planning to get outside more in the days ahead.

      Delete
  5. Oh Beth, this is such a wonderfully written post. I totally can relate to it! I enjoyed finding the treasures in your garden together with you. My favorites are the moss, something that we completely lack here in San Diego and which reminds me of Germany and the red swing. Wishing you many more joyful garden walks! Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Christina. We have several rock walls, and I can always count on finding some great mosses growing on those rocks! With the shade and dappled sun and microclimates on this property, the conditions seem to be perfect for mosses. They don't fare as well during a drought with a summer heat wave, but they thrive in fall, winter, and spring here. San Diego is near-perfect but not much moss--interesting. I guess it's a drier climate, year-round, right?

      Delete
  6. I really enjoyed your post, Beth. A Walk in the Woods reminds me of a magic garden somehow. I'd love to know the variety of Sedum you have shown here. I have Autumn Joy, which was supposed to turn red in the late fall, but doesn't. What is your Sedum variety? I had family here for Christmas and we took a back yard walk, and they were amazed at all the things they never see in warmer climes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susie. It's an 'Autumn Joy' Sedum, actually. I don't remember it looking this red in the past, but then I don't walk around the garden much in January ... in most years, it's really cold through much of the month. We're having a very "pleasant" winter this year. Plus, the snowfall is light. Just enough to keep things bright and protect the plants, but not burden the people with constant shoveling and dangerous travel. Plus, when the light snow melts, we see these pretty garden treasures poking through. :)

      Delete
  7. Well done! It can be so difficult to find anything to appreciate during a cold Wisconsin winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Agreed, Heather, regarding Wisconsin winter. This winter isn't as tough as most, it seems. Most Januarys there would be too much snow (even during a thaw) to make traipsing through my backyard pleasurable. With that said, a good cross-country ski or snowshoe outing can be fun (once you get over the shock of it). ;-)

      Delete
  8. Last January I too showed my winter wear because I get asked quite often why I am outside so much in our cold snowy weather. It's the clothes, baby!!!! Without them it would be no fun to walk around and find the little treasures like in your post. I especially like the fungi photos. We have about as much snow as you right now. I bet you are happy it is not like last year at this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I remember that post, Donna. I enjoyed it. I remember thinking, "but even that gear won't get me out into the polar vortex." ;-) But this winter is much milder. So I didn't even need a parka--just a light denim jacket. Yay! I guess we all have our limits. Anything colder than 20F/-7C, and I have no desire to walk around outside, even with heavy gear. But I have a low tolerance for cold and a high tolerance for heat. The fungi were fun to find. They're covered with snow now again--just a light dusting. Yes! this winter is sooo much better than last winter! That was perhaps the most difficult winter I've ever experienced!

      Delete
  9. I am surprised how little snow you have left. I always think we have about the same climate but perhaps we don't. I am not home just now but I am told there is a good foot of snow on the ground. Your photos are very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alain: Our winters are quite variable here in S. Wisconsin. Last winter was about as brutal as I've ever experienced, because it kept snowing and it was polar cold. This winter is more "normal," with some snow and some cold, with some mild days here and there. We don't get the heavy lake-effect snows this far from Lake Michigan, but we do get some crazy snowstorms sometimes, depending on how the weather systems track. We just got another dusting yesterday, and we're due for more on the weekend. No huge storms in the forecast, so I'm happy! Thanks!

      Delete
  10. A walk outside on a mild January day can be good for the spirit. You found lots of beauty, I especially appreciated the lilac buds and fungi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, good for the spirit--that's a great way to describe it. I always enjoy seeing (and photographing) the buds. They're with us all winter, but sometimes it's too cold to enjoy viewing them. I noticed recently that the Star Magnolia buds on some nearby trees are huge and fluffy this year. Have you ever noticed that they vary from year to year? They seem just ready to pop. I wonder if that means we'll have an early spring?

      Delete
  11. Hooray for you for getting out there with the camera!!! Beautiful shots...and what a treat to see something other then snow and more snow, and a bit more snow...LOL. The fungus shots...oh sigh. Beautiful.

    Ours will melt, and life will move forward, but until then, I will live vicariously through the shared shots of others.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen. :) I have to agree about the snow and more snow stuff. Actually, these thaws are really nice because we have that rare combination of "fire and ice"--when the ice and snow are receding and revealing the moss, plants, fungi, and other goodies underneath. Makes for some interesting scenes. Hang in there! Winter is slowly receding ...

      Delete
  12. What a lovely post, Beth! I love the backyard swing and all the fungi on the log. You've made me realize there is still some beauty to be found outside in spite of the mush and gloom.
    By the way, I've been working on a post on the Rotary Garden, finally! I should have it up tomorrow or this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rose! I'm imagining that you don't have much snow now, being just a bit further south? Although, I noticed that Illinois had some snows earlier this winter that we didn't get . I'll look forward to your post about the Rotary Botanical Gardens! Yay! We need to chat about another "Midwest Meet-Up" in May, June, or July. :)

      Delete
  13. Lovely to be able to find beauty in the depths of winter. What an amazing fungus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that fungus fascinating? It's covering the entire log--a log that we placed there to mark the trail in the woods. My husband, after reading this post, mentioned that he was moved to photograph it, too. The other day when the dappled sun was shining on the fungi through the trees, the light played on the collection in a lovely way. Nature is incredible, isn't it?!

      Delete
  14. It might be a simple walk,.. but is full f surprises and life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lula: It's so easy to get cabin fever in a cold climate. So a January thaw and a walk of discovery do wonders for the mood and the outlook. :)

      Delete
  15. Thanks for a lovely post Beth, there is always something to see outside, no matter what kind of weather we have. I have spent 2 hours working in the garden today, in 3 degrees C and chilly wind – and in London the January wind is bone chillingly bad, but it’s just a matter of the right clothes and footwear :-) I wish you many more lovely walks, hope this winter is better than last year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Helene. 3C/37F is pretty chilly to be outside for two hours--unless you're working vigorously ... which I suppose you were! Actually that's a comfortable temperature without the wind. Wind can be brutal! Yes! This winter is much, much better than last winter! Thanks!

      Delete
  16. Love it! The fungi and moss are so beautiful. I love the red of the swing and bench. It always takes me awhile to get outside when it's cold, but it is usually worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's that hump of laziness I have to get over to spark myself to pull on all the gear and make the leap into the cold. But once I do it, I'm glad I ventured out! Usually in January, we have more snow, which makes walking on our sloped property treacherous. So, if I walk, it's usually elsewhere. This year, it's easier to get traction, plus it has been warmer. So, a garden walk-around is easier and more pleasant. :)

      Delete
  17. magnificent photos today
    (but I'm grateful not to be out in the snow, nor battling Porterville's 40C today - we had a comfortable 26C)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Diana. Yes, I hear you. I'd much prefer to be in your part of the world right now, believe me. Ask me again in May through October, and I'd say, "Gosh, I can't imagine a more perfect place than right here where I live."

      Delete
  18. I'm grateful to you for donning winter armor to bring us images of "extraordinary beauty"...especially the "lacy fungi". Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ricki: You're welcome. ;-) It was a pleasant day and I have to remind myself to take advantage of those breaks between the cold snaps. Today it's cold, so all I want to do is curl up with a blanket, the cats, and a good book. Simple pleasures.

      Delete
  19. I enjoyed this walk with you. I love the big oak leaf. We have pressed a few and they are still in our books. It is always fun to come across them.

    Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carla. We have so many species of Oak trees in our woods. That was a particularly large leaf, I thought, in comparison with others. I get tired of the Oak leaves because we have so many, but they're excellent mulch and great habitat for wildlife.

      Delete
  20. It's nice to see how the melting snow plants emerge even those from last year. Moss enjoys the countryside. Regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, moss is amazing. When I see it magnified or close up, it reminds me of another world--like a miniature of our world (which I guess it is). There's something about seeing ice and snow with green, growing things underneath ...

      Delete
  21. I love your photos. Don't you love digital photography and how we can just wander around and take photos of things that make us smile? We always feel better when we come inside. Then when we upload our photos we can enjoy them all over again and share them with others who also enjoy them. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree about the joy of digital photography, Grace. I wasn't much of a photographer until digital, because I couldn't afford it before that. You're right: There's a simple joy from seeing something beautiful, being able to capture it in some small way, and then being able to share it. Cheers!

      Delete
  22. I'm imagining myself swinging on the swing, watching my breath in the air and soaking up the atmosphere Beth. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Angie! I still see memories of my daughter swinging on that swing when we first moved here. She was a young child then, and now she's about ready to graduate college! My, how time flies! Anyway, the garden changes every day as time marches on. Simple pleasures help me to appreciate the moments...

      Delete
  23. Fabulous. The fungi on that log are amazing. So much beauty in small things if you brake the time to look. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, those fungi are nifty. The day after this post we got a dusting of snow, and since then it's gotten colder. I wonder if they'll be as pretty the next time I venture out there...

      Delete
  24. I love how green moss is in winter compared to grass. And the sedges always look good. Can't believe I did not walk around my own garden while it was warmer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we have a carpet of moss and sedges toward the back of the property near the woods. It's actually a little easier to maintain than grass, although we mow it to keep the weeds down. Our property is on a pretty steep incline in the back, so I rarely walk out there in January. But the rare combination of mild temps and very slight snow cover made it more manageable.

      Delete
  25. I enjoyed your walk! I love giant leaves and moss and dried-up seed heads and fungi-covered logs. There is always something to enjoy, no matter the season. Your gloves are nice. I have not found any gloves that allow enough flexibility for me to take photos, so even on the coldest days I have to take the gloves off to shoot photos. Fortunately, our winter weather is generally warmer than yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deb. Those gloves are OK. I prefer to operate the camera with bare hands, but cold fingers are so unpleasant! I would guess that the temps on the particular day of this post (low 40sF) were similar to the highs on your colder winter days. ;-)

      Delete
  26. I love the photos in this post, and the idea of finding extraordinary beauty in simple things. I just wish going on these walks in cyberspace would burn up some calories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sue. Ha! Yes, I agree. I'd be in great shape if I could burn calories that way!

      Delete
  27. I'm sorry that somehow, I missed this post! And such a lovely one it is. Thanks for sharing your walk. I can't even pick a photo that I like the best, since all of them were lovely and profound.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I had wished we would have some mild weather and a melt in January but not this year and February is expected to keep us white and covered....love the treasures you found Beth and the new look of the blog.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)