The Lightly Frosted Garden in January

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Tree textures: curly willow (Salix) and Doug fir (Pseudotsuga).
It is not a bad thing—at least in my mind—to wake up to a frozen world outside.
Just a few of my many houseplants in my office/plant room.
With the cold comes sunshine and I can embrace them both so long as the heater is working.
Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’.
With a warm coat and several layers of clothing you’re likely to find me outside now looking around.
Spiderweb frozen in time on a Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’.
Ok, maybe this is a gentle time during the winter for us and I have to admit that I’m more inclined to giggle at the things I’m seeing rather than groaning about the wet muddiness of it all. (That is if I am not cursing the cold. I’m not perfect.)
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’.
Seeing the blue sky all day warms my heart. I adore the color blue and all that it represents.
Even the ivy that’s considered an invasive plant seems somewhat more tame and delicate with a dusting of the cold frozen dampness.
An Epiphyllum I grew from seed.

Indoors the houseplants are still growing. I sit beside them working while I too bask in the warmth from the heater and I take advantage of the lights intended for their growth.

Some old homes don’t have a lot of windows to let the light in, but I make do.

Wordless Wednesday: With Spring in My Step

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Muscari armeniacum. 

Tulipa tarda.
Tulipa humilis.
Tulipa (cannot recall the name).
Primula veris.
Primula veris ‘Sunset Shades’.
Narcissus.
Muscari album.
Viola glabella.
Bergenia cordifolia.
Spoils from one of my many road trips to CA.
Narcissus. 
Fritillaria meleagris.
Helleborus.
Clematis alpina ‘Stolwijk Gold’.
Clematis alpina ‘Stolwijk Gold’.
Camellia japonica ‘Black Magic’.
Acer palmatum ‘Red Spider Web’.
Maurice the cat.
Two types of Dudleya.

Ah Swell, Seed Starting is Upon Us

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Our Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ is here with its annual flush of color and we have several Hellebores blooming too. This means that is time to get ready for our annual pilgrimage to Seattle in February for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I am hoping this year my husband and I will have more fun than ever, but we just never know since my chronic illness—a mysterious malady—can make me miserable quite quickly.

As I sit and drink my special tea, the one I only drink when I need to feel the warm embrace of my Parisian friends and the happiness of what brought my husband and I together, I only do so as if to hold a warm security blanket. I say this because January has been a really difficult month of me, oh, and if you’d like to know the tea, its Mariage Frères “Pleine Lune.”

Despite the ongoing pain from continual swelling, and the fear of having a swollen neck that can make it difficult to swallow, and sometimes breathe, I have continued to keep my hands and my mind occupied with garden-like crafts. Sales of my online boutique shops have continued, and the kids have kept coming. What I have learned from being sick like this off and on now for 10 years is that you have to simply keep going. Doing this is so hard at times because on the other hand you must learn to let other things slide. For a Virgo perfectionist like me, this has been heartbreaking and it is my real daily struggle.

I’d wanted to have had these finished a few months ago, but they are finished now and I am really happy to have made them. This is the only complete accordion seed book so far, but I learned a great deal from making it. It looks really nice too and I am so pleased with it.

These origami boxes are for seed collections too. I made these while watching a 007 movie marathon a few weeks ago. I’d wanted to roll up seed tapes in them but when the seeds were applied to the paper strips, they were simply too big. Guess I need larger origami paper!

Lastly, these are large stakes I’ve painted with chalkboard paint. I am not sure if I would use them outside since the chalk comes off with water so easily, but nevertheless, they look really cute. I highly recommend making some of these if you have any kind of garden themed party this upcoming season. You can get the paint at craft stores in all kinds of crazy colors. Folks also plant planters with the stuff, and I have some I’ve been making too, but for some reason I am thinking that the pots will chip off. We’ll see and I’ll let you know.

So January has been a rough time, but I have completed some goals, despite having to neglect some others. Never giving in, and never giving up can really wear a person down and I am so concerned that this year my seed starting will end up like last year’s. Many of the seedlings didn’t make it because I was too wrapped up in being a new foster respite provider. This year I will really need to find the balance between my needs and those of the kids.

The last year has taught me much about empathy. I empathize too much with everyone and it is really draining. Some of us are just very empathetic and although it is a skill set, it must be used responsibly.

The kids in therapeutic foster care often have little empathy for others because of what they have experienced in their lives. This is a huge challenge for many of them. Some will learn to trust others enough again in the future to really open up and feel what others feel, but others will not. My job is to be a good role model, and not to over empathize with them. I need to teach them skills and help their confidence. This is how gardening fits into the big picture and this is truly my New Year’s Resolution.

With that, we begin the seed starting season: Gardening Skills 101.

If you would like to see the list of seeds I’m starting this year, please visit the tab that reads Seed Starting 2001 to the right of the HOME button above this post.