Today's vases and location will be nothing new to you if you've ever stopped here on a Monday meme morning. The two Heath vases on the ends and the central container are among my top favorites and spend a lot of time on this windowsill above the kitchen sink.
What's noteworthy is that the contents are leaves and cuttings from my November garden that are still going strong in January, which is not an easy thing to make happen here in Wisconsin. Interspersing the vases are a salt shaker snowman (he cries salty tears!) and a ceramic snowman with twiggy arms.
The vases at the edges of the display hold cuttings I took from an annual Hibiscus plant that was in a pot by the front door all summer long. They've sent out roots so I am probably going to try to pot them up one of these days. The vase with the face holds a variety of foliage from Hellebores, Heuchera and Tiarella with one odd Geranium cutting. The rather spiky khaki-colored leaf is a Hellebore that was bluish-green when I clipped it. It's slowly turned this very pretty tone.
Nothing too unusual here except that I can partake of Cathy's "In a Vase on Monday meme" in January without trying to come up with something I've pulled together in the absence of flowers from my own garden. Stop by Rambling in the Garden to see what other gardeners are putting in a vase today.
It snowed Friday afternoon and continued on into the night. Then it started up again early Saturday afternoon and was still snowing when we went to bed about 10:30 p.m. last night. The sun is out now and the snow is glittering.
But it was 7 degrees F. below zero (-21.66 C.) when we got up this morning around 8 a.m. The wind chill made it feel like minus 24F. (-31.11 C.)! We made coffee and settled in with books and laptops and iPads until it got a bit warmer. Now it's up to minus 2 degrees F. at noon. So Mark powered up the snowblower and went out to clear off the driveway.
Here's the view out the back windows to the garden.
and who knows how many more snowfalls to come. It was snowing when we got up Sunday morning and continued through much of the day. The final accumulation was at least twice as much as was on the ground when I snapped this photo. The upside of a good 4 inches of snow is that it will help insulate the garden when the temperature drops to 9 degrees later this week. Winter has most definitely arrived.
We did not get the big snow storm that was predicted for the Midwest. Instead we woke up to ice on the trees and plants and car and driveway and on and on. It's been windy but not dangerously so. Now, at 4:30 p.m. the temperature is 27 degrees F. (-2.77 C.) and it is snowing harder than we'd prefer.
This is that moment of March madness when the weather can wreak havoc in an afternoon. It is especially worrying since everything seemed to have made it through the winter. Despite what the calendar says, winter is not over until it's over. A lesson that we are all too familiar with in Wisconsin.
The snow from last Tuesday's storm as well as the dusting we received last night is disappearing at a steady rate. Given the above average temperatures and rainfall that the weather forecast is predicting for the coming week, the garden won't be showing any white — other than snowdrops — within the next few days. A very exciting prospect, even though I know winter is not over yet.
The temperatures were up into the 50s on both days this weekend. Despite clouds and wind, the sudden whiff of Spring was a huge boost to my spirits and sent me outdoors with a camera (uh, phone). This sudden change in the weather also makes it easy to observe the pattern of snow melt in the garden. What I discovered as I wandered around snapping photos is that I've planted a number of early bulbs in locations that are going to be among the last spots to be covered with snow.
Looking southwest across the width of the back garden
I put the bulbs where I wanted to see them in the spring without thinking about what early spring looks like in my garden. March tends to be a month where we typically get one — if not more — serious snowfalls. So I should have at least one more chance to study these patterns and to record where the snow disappears first and last in my garden.
Looking south across the depth of the back garden
Even though they are composed of gravel, the paths across the back of the garden and through the area most heavily planted with perennials were still snow-covered Sunday afternoon. The same was true for much of the front garden as the photos below show. That black plastic milk bin is my attempt to keep critters away from a little shrub I transplanted last fall.
I'm not going to cut back Epimendiums, Hellebores or the dried remains of Hakonechloa grass for a few more weeks, unless there are long term signs that winter is over. My birthday is in early April and too often it is a cold and snowy day, so I am trying not to think about Spring any more than necessary.
The last weeks of winter are always the hardest because we're so close if you only look at the calendar. But those of us who live where we have real winters, know not to rush the season no matter how much we'd like to. The bed in the photo below is at the top of our new rock wall. It's where I planted early daffodils without thinking that this is the north side of the house and that bed will be in a cold shadow for quite a while longer.
Despite my rather gloomy comments, there was enough green to be seen to get me excited. Arum italicum looks great even though it's been buried under the snow until just a few hours before I took its photo.
I love the bright green of the foliage of the Digitalis plants that wintered over and will bloom this year. But until it flowers I am not sure which variety it is.
My double-flowered Snowdrops are starting to push up.
Last year they did not make an appearance until March 10.
Galanthus 'Magnet' is much further along — or at least up much higher — than the Snowdrops shown above. That really surprises me as the double-flowered ones are against the house whose reflected heat seems like it would have pushed them ahead. But that's gardening, always something you didn't expect to see staring you in the face!
The storm that has just started was downgraded. But I don't really know what that means. The original forecast said 1 to 6 inches of snow, rain, freezing rain and sleet. Also wind and thunder. Well it is mid-morning and so dark it looks like about 4:30 in the afternoon. It's snowing heavily, much more than these photos indicate.
The one below was snapped about 15 minutes after the one above. You can see how quickly the snow is sticking to the shrubs and branches. And it just thundered. We used to get snow with thunder quite often when I was growing up in the snowbelt, south of Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY. One of my favorite weather moments. Oh, joy! Just thundered again. And the plow went by.
Mark made a fabulous beef stew yesterday with lots of leftovers and I just took rice pudding with ginger out of the oven. We're set. Frankly, my garden is barely covered with snow and needs more insulation, so I am OK with a bit of winter returning again.
I actually do the following things all year long, but winter is when I have the down time to really immerse myself in all the paperwork of gardening. I unearth all my scribbles on scraps of paper where I've noted plants to buy and plant combos to try. Winter is when I start a new garden journal and make i.d. cards for all the plants I've just ordered on line.
I don't know if any other Wisconsin gardeners do these things or how many gardeners anywhere do them. But if you've been reading this blog since its early days then you know that I have records going back to the beginning of the garden in the early 1990s. I just began Volume Twenty of my garden journals.
Every plant has its own index card that tells where and when I bought it, what it cost and where it's planted. I love knowing that the row of Euonymous europaeus 'Aldenhamensis' trees on the west side of the house came from the old Heronswood Nursery and cost $8.00 each. They were about the size of my closed fist when I bought them and now reach above the roof.
This degree of documentation probably sounds excessive, bordering on compulsive. But as someone who spent years writing about gardens in print media and giving numerous presentations on the subject, I needed to know the identity of every plant in my garden that I wrote and talked about, as well as where people might buy one like it. My copious records answered all the questions anyone might ask. It's been years since I really needed to keep these kinds of records, but once I started I found I enjoyed it too much to stop.
Ask me anything. I can give you all the details of the recent driveway project, like the fact that more than 500 tons of material was moved in and out during the construction. Ninety tons of rocks and pavers are visible in the finished landscape and a similar amount's buried. The garden has 224 trees and shrubs. Cool, huh?! Or crazy . . .