Sunday, February 10

Winter Highlights

Normally, my busy time at work is finished by the second weekend of February... but that's not true this year, I'm afraid. It's been a long winter in that way.

Unlike many of my fellow garden bloggers, it seems, I have been lucky enough to escape the "winter blahs," or Seasonal Affective Disorder, or whatever you want to call it. I think that my regular walks, both with and without my four-legged gardening assistant, really help. Winter seems much less oppressive when you do not feel house-bound because of it.

Another thing that helps is the winter garden. I enjoy noticing the little things, like the way the winter sunlight highlights my miscanthus 'Zebrinus' in the mornings. Yesterday, I amused myself by counting the flower buds on my three 'Ivory Prince' hellebores. (Eight!) Today I trudged out to the front garden after work to lay in a few evergreen boughs (Christmas tree recycling) around the base of the Dortmund rose before tonight's temperature drop. Temps have bottomed out before, but this time we have no snowcover so I figured the rose might appreciate some extra protection.

I also enjoy judging the coldness of the day by the angle at which the rhododendron leaves are drooping... and checking to see how many new kinds of birds are visiting my feeders. Unlike certain other people who shall remain nameless, I decided to declare a truce with my own resident squirrel and bought a bag of "squirrel and critter" feed at the store today. I hope that providing him his own chow will keep him from camping out (literally) on top of the platform feeder and gorging on birdseed! We'll see.

Last, but not least, Friday was my birthday... and while Mom acknowledged that this wasn't quite what they had in mind, I am using part of my parents' gift to buy the peach tree that I have been wanting to espalier against the last open section of fence. (Sometimes I'm sure it would be easier on them if their daughter liked to splurge on clothing or earrings instead of plants, and asked for things like designer jeans instead of a circular saw for Christmas. But they love me anyway.)

So while winter hasn't been too bad--and the long hours at work are making it go by quickly anyway--I have at least one fun thing to look forward to this spring: Seeing a Charlie-Brown-looking stick arrive in the mail and imagining it into a full-blown tree, loaded with juicy, sweet peaches, as I plant it.


Entangled said...

Happy Birthday! I think a peach tree is a great present. I once bought a cold frame with some gift money from my in-laws - I don't think they understood at all.

I'll be interested to hear how your squirrel feeding experiment works out. I haven't yet found any trick that works for long.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

A belated Happy Birthday Kim. I am happy to hear that you aren't bogged down by SAD. I do think your garden helper is one of the reasons. Getting outside every day no matter what the temps are or the conditions is good for you. And I am sure that you Garden Helper is most apprciative.

Don't work too hard. Keep dreamin' of those peaches. Yummmmm

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Entangled, I don't know if this is going to work or not, but I figure if it keeps the squirrel from being on top of the feeder while the cardinals are left to scrounge on the ground around it (as happened yesterday) I'll be happy! :)

The cold frame would be a cool gift, too. I think that my grandma's present is going to go toward a seed purchase, though... hmm...

Lisa, she definitely is appreciative--she has to keep up with all of the messages left for her around the neighborhood, you know! lol. As far as the peaches go, I kind of feel like I can taste them now... but really, would 3 years be too soon to see one?!

Carol said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Kim. I think a peach tree sounds like a great way to use some extra 'birthday money'!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Benjamin Vogt said...

Winter is a great time of year! Need our seasons! But, I'm from MN, so I grew up getting out and about.

I used my birthday money to buy plants and a jigsaw (I HATE loud dangerous machines, but I needed one). Next year I'm buying a LEGO set because this year I was too practical.

I can't wait till my zebra grass looks like yours!

joey said...

Happy 'belated' Birthday, Kim. Charming post ... I'm sure your mother is delighted to have you 'just the way you are'! Will look forward to a spring photo of your 'blooming' peach tree ...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Happy belated birthday! Try to get your parents to see the bright side: its so easy to get you presents - gift certificates to your favorite nursery & hardware store! Don't be surprised if you start having more squirrel guests showing up. If you feed them, they will come.

Pam/Digging said...

Have a peachy birthday, Kim!

Annie in Austin said...

Hope you had a great birthday weekend, Kim - and had a smile over your birthday requests as opposed to the clothes and jewelry that are more usual.

Maybe it works both ways? Gifts to my daughter from me include a Dreml and a Smith & Hawken poacher's spade, not considered normal by some people.

Eight hellebore buds sounds like a bonanza.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Nan Ondra said...

Happy late birthday, Kim! It's great to hear that you've had good luck with 'Ivory Prince' hellebore surviving the winter outdoors. I've kept one in a pot for a few years so I can overwinter it in a cold frame. I guess I'll try planting it out this spring so I'll have room for winter-pampering something else.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! My mom's had that same feeling about me for years, so you're not alone. (And it amuses me endlessly when she says "You need a new purse," I say, "No I don't, mine is perfectly good," and we proceed to argue with her sounding like the daughter and me sounding like the mother.)

Layanee said...

A great birthday present! I can smell the peaches now! Spring seems so far away....peach thoughts bring it closer! Thanks!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Carol, thanks... that's what I thought, too! :)

Benjamin Vogt, Legos ROCK!! We play with Legos a lot, but I admit I prefer the old-school square blocks to having a predetermined starship to build.

By the way, you'll be surprised at how fast that zebra grass grows. This was quart-sized chunk from my aunt's garden 3 years ago, and it's been moved a few times in the interim... I just love it.

joey, thank you! My Mom and I have a very good relationship, actually, so I'm sure she is. :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, my Dad is definitely sold on the idea of giving tools to his daugther for holidays. It started with a jigsaw, and now I have quite a nice little stable of tools, in fact! (By the way, I hope you're wrong about me inviting any more squirrel guests inadvertantly!)

Pam/Digging, well put! *grin*

Annie in Austin, eight hellebore buds definitely sounds like a bonanza. (And a Dreml sounds like a great idea for next Christmas, lol.)

Nan, thank you. This is only their first year, but I was pleasantly surprised. I frankly thought they would be more stressed than they are, since they get a lot more sunshine than I had figured hellebores would want... but as it stands, they are a lot healthier-looking than my 'Pine Knot Strain' hellebores that I've had for longer.

seeded, it does sound rather like you switch places during those arguments! lol. Btw I've had those same discussions, but with me it's my wallet. I can't bring myself to carry a purse...

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Layanee, you snuck in while I was typing! Don't peach blossoms (let alone peaches) sound divine right now... while the temps are in the single digits still? :)

Meagan said...

I think the rule is you get to spend bday money on absolutely whatever you want. Sorry I missed it Kim. :-/ I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do for Matt's bday and that's in six days (I'm a terrible girlfriend).

Kylee said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KIM!! A peach tree - great idea for a birthday purchase! Two years ago, we bought a 'Dwarf Elberta' peach tree at Lowe's and even had a peach from it that first year. It dropped some blossoms right after we planted it, but we expected that. We didn't get any blossoms last spring (probably due to that weird late prolonged freeze). I hope we get some this year!

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Happy birthday!

I've been wanting to try an espelier, but don't seem to have a logical place to try such a project. Perhaps something in a pot?

I've avoided the winter blues by forcing myself to get out and exercise. Socializing at the gym and moving both help to keep the blahs away.

Robin at Bumblebee

Kerri said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday Kim! The peach tree sounds like a perfect present for a girl who loves to grow things :) Getting outside for a little exercise with your four-legged friend is a great way to beat the winter blahs. I always feel better when I go out for some fresh air, and check out what the birds are doing, etc. We have more snow coming tomorrow..up to 10". The birds and critters will be hungry. We had a little red squirrel yesterday doing the same as yours :)

Pam said...

Happy Belated Birthday! Your comment about your parent's gift made me laugh: when I finished graduate school, my father bought me a small mantis rototiller. Two birthdays ago, I got an echo leaf blower that is just out of this world (I had always sworn that I'd nevr get one - but geez, I have six HUGE trees). My Mom would always sitting there, shaking her head, while my Father would say 'But Madeline, she really did want one!'.

The espaliered peach sounds wonderful - I fear I must cut down my one peach tree this year - I've battled pests for too long, and without spraying a gazillion times a year, it's a losing battle.

lisa said...

Happy Birthday! I'm enjoying this winter too...not sure why, but why not? I think an espalier peach will be really cool...but then I find most everything you do to be pretty darn cool! :) As for unconventional gifts, I think it makes the purchasing more fun for people. An old BF of mine once bought me an expensive Craftsman tool set for my birthday, since I was into junkyarding parts for my 65' Chevy pickup at the time. The gift was more exciting to me than any piece of jewelry, and he had fun picking it out for sure!

Diane said...

belated birthday greetings Kim!

I too love grasses in the winter garden. There is only one grass that is hardy enough up here (Karl Forrester) so when I want another grass in the garden I have to buy and plant it knowing I need to treat it as an annual. I did that with a miscanthis one year but the season wasn't long enough so it never did get the beautiful seed heads! ah well :)

Alberta Postcards
Diane's Flickr photos

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