The Lightly Frosted Garden in January

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.

Top 12 To-Do List for the 2011 Growing Season


There’s nothing I’d enjoy more than to complete the many tasks on any one of the lists floating around this house. As a recovered perfectionist, it has pained me greatly to become so physically unable to do so many simple things. But I’m not giving up—and neither should any of you—when swelling or any other kind of chronic malady shows up to bring dark clouds to an otherwise sunny day. I know that when you cannot work, you cannot hire help, but that doesn’t mean that you should let it all pile up as I so often do. Things need to be tackled, and when they are tackled, you beat that obstacle and are better prepared for whatever else is coming your way.

(If you are not a gardener struggling with chronic illness, I am pretty sure you have these lists too. If you are able-bodied, and willing to help, think about offering a hand to help another gardener in need. For you too may be there someday.)

  1. COVER. Add a larger covered area of some kind, any kind, to the backyard to encourage the cats to recreate outdoors more often. I’d like to have a place back there too. Kids might even figure out that’s it’s fun. We will see.
  2. SHELTER. Enclose the small shed attached to the garage/storage studio and throw out its contents. Consider using the large inherited kiln in this space. The pile of salvaged wood stored in the garage/studio is sure to come in handy for this task.
  3. DEFENSE. Get around to having a gorgeous fence made in the backyard and add a small deck platform to it. After all this time, I’d like to finally say goodbye to that apartment building once and for all.
  4. POWER. Add electrical outdoors outlets since there is not a single one in sight!
  5. GUIDANCE. Clean all paths in the garden from my many piles of debris. Get rid of broken pots. Throw away anything that is not vital to the completion of my goals. No empty planters. Sell them or give them away.
  6. STRUCTURE. Make things and things with happen. The fact that our cement stucco home terrifies me is a big hinderance to the completion of this task.
  7. EDIT. Be brave and remove plants that show little improvement. Others WILL take their place. I have a pile of those too.
  8. VIEW. Buy a projector so we can watch movies with the kids in the backyard this summer. They are so often denied such luxuries and it is such a perfect fit for all involved.
  9. DIRECTION. Better define how the garden functions with more hardscaping projects completed.
  10. SOLID. Finish up the back porch. It’s an eyesore in concrete and it needs to be pebble mosaic.
  11. HANG. That’s right. Hang all the items I need to hang, and get over my fear of masonry.
  12. COLOR. Color me concrete. Paint the architectural details on the front porch and garage/studio and consider repainting the front porch. Finally!

Hope you’re all making your lists too!

Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine.’