January 25, 2023

Looking Back and Planning Ahead

march 1

I'm dreaming about the growing season ahead; are you? Some garden friends in warmer climates are beginning to see new growth, while others in even milder locations have year-round active gardens. Here in the Upper Midwest U.S., our growing season doesn't really get going until March. While, yes of course, changes are happening under the soil and under the snow and ice all winter, the growing party doesn't really start until spring.

So...I'm reflecting on some of the highlights of last year's garden as I plan ahead. In March, it started with the budding and blooming of Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.), shown above.

march 2

Other fabulous and reliable garden friends that made their appearances in March included the ornamental Alliums. (Though most actually bloom in late spring and early summer, it's fun to see the new growth poking above the soil and preparing for the season ahead.)

april 2

Crocuses (C. vernus) greeted late March and early April with bright color and tenacity, even as winter and spring duked it out with fluctuating temperatures and variable precipitation.

april 3

Some of the Hellebores (H. orientalis) began blooming in March, but their performance really got going in April.

april 1

The rabbits didn't eat/destroy the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) last year because I provided adequate caging.

may 1

may 2

The Baltimore orioles and ruby-throated hummingbirds were right on schedule in early May. 

june 1

june 2

june 3

Alliums (A. giganteum), Salvias (S. nemerosa), and Dwarf Korean Lilacs (Syringa meyeri) took the stage in June, their cool pink and purple blooms great for floral arrangements.

july 2

Viceroy butterflies (shown here) seemed more plentiful last summer, while their look-alikes, monarchs, were lower in numbers in my part of the country than they have been in the past.

july 1

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) offered cheery July blooms to pollinators and humans, alike.

august 3

In August, the garden flowers I'd planted from seeds, bulbs, and corms earlier in the growing season offered vases full of color.

august 2

A family of red-tailed hawks visited our backyard. That was a thrill!

august 1

Also a thrill: every monarch I saw, because there were so few.

september 1

In September, I found a patch of Downy Gentians (Gentiana puberulenta) during a hike, definitely a beautiful discovery.

september 2

The juvenile hummingbirds, as always in late summer/early fall, kept me entertained.

october 1

The Maples (Acer spp.) colored the front yard view in October.

october 2

At the same time, the garden was still full of plentiful blooms, since we didn't have a heavy frost until late in the month.

october 3

We had plenty of Tomatoes for BLTs late into the season.

november 1

The hanging Fuchsias even bloomed into early November.

november 2

And I saw monarch butterflies later in the season than I've ever seen them before, though I'd seen very few earlier in the year.

It was a beautiful growing season, and I'm looking forward to the one ahead in the coming months. Though these are all blooms and thrills from last year, I'm linking into Gail's Wildflower Wednesday over at Clay and Limestone. Happy memories and best wishes for the growing season ahead!

January 14, 2023

What's Happening in the Sunroom?

oxalis vulcanicola

Any type of new life at this time of year is encouraging. Even during an extremely mild January (for us), the promise of new growth, longer days, and warmth are so welcome. Indoors, in the sunroom, the plants are putting on buds and flowers and new shoots. The plant that seems happiest is Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel.' The hairy buds and full foliage are lush and happy.

oxalis vulcanicola potted

The plant is spilling over all sides of its pot. In May, I'll divide it for potting outdoors.

oxalis triangularis

Another Oxalis, Purple Shamrock (O. triangularis), has been a happy plant in the sunroom (and outdoors in summer) for many years now. It's a nice companion for the variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix).

fuchsia autumnale

Fuchsia 'Autumnale' is not as happy indoors as it was outdoors. This is my second year of overwintering this one. I might try a different spot for it, or attempt some stem cuttings to encourage new growth. But it's still alive and colorful.

passiflora incarnata

The Purple Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is not changing much, but the buds and signs of new growth are encouraging.

fuchsia marinka

My two hanging baskets of Fuchsia 'Marinka' also are struggling a bit. (I've had these plants for so many years!) I think I'll place them in a different location and give them a bit more TLC.

hypoestes phyllostachya

But the plant that has surprised me the most with its ready adjustment to indoor growing is the Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). It almost seems happier indoors than it did outside during the summer. What a joyful little plant full of new shoots of growth!

That's it for now. Dreaming about seed-starting in the weeks ahead...

January 06, 2023

Strange Weather, But Happy Plants

back view

After a cold snap during the holidays, we're warm here in the Midwest--we've been consistently warmer than "normal" since late December, and projected to continue through the 10-day forecast. I'm not complaining: It's definitely more comfortable than normal for this time of year. We've had rounds of light snow, which melts quickly with highs in the 30s and 40s F.

The garden seems OK, but I'm a bit worried about lack of insulation if we suddenly get colder again.


I checked the Hellebores (H. orientalis), and they're definitely budding. I re-covered them with layers of leaf litter to protect them in case of future colder days.


I leave the stems and seeds of last year's plants for overwintering insects (in the stems) and birds (food from the seeds). The Wild Senna (S. hebecarpa) seeds are attractive in their own right.


The mosses are fascinating to study--in every season and all types of weather.


'Autumn Joy' Sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile) has an attractive burgundy cast and looks lovely coated in light snow. 

barrenwort 1

barrenwort 2

In most winters, the Epimediums (E. x rubrum previous and E. x warleyense here) are ravaged by rabbits, but our rabbit numbers seem lower lately. Maybe they'll snack more in the spring.


Climbing rose (Rosa setigera) foliage is still attractive, even as the color fades.


I was surprised to see the Mums (unknown species/cultivar) still show some green; probably because of our mild temperatures.


That's a brief overview of some of the outdoor plants. Shown here is the potted Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) that spends the winter in the sunroom. Stay tuned for an update on the indoor plants soon.

Happy New Year!