My winter garden is having a good season so far. Usually I don’t bother setting things up until around New Year’s but this season the shop lights went on in October for some special cuttings, and things have been humming along since. The hardy cyclamen coum which I keep potted up are just starting to put on a show, and now that I’ve dispatched Mr. Mouse the blooms can open in peace.
For those of you who might not be as up to date with my garden as you’d like 🙂 here are a few statistics on the tiny little patch of plants which serves as my winter garden. Basically it’s a four tube fluorescent shop light set up in an unheated workshop just off the back of the cool (never freezing) garage. The bulbs are a generic T-8 type, usually in the ‘daylight’ or ‘natural light’ category but it really just depends on what I grab the day I’m shopping for lights. That’s it. Not quite a citrus filled orangerie or a warm, sunny conservatory, but it does the trick on a dark January evening. I’m considering buying a few more and lining the side of the room with them in order to grow something bigger and fragrant. A little goldfish pool back there wouldn’t bother me much either, might as well put a fountain in while I’m at it.
Last year I had a bunch of snowdrops and some early spring blooming perennial purchases from Far Reaches Farm. They were awesome but this year I spent my winter treat money a few months too early and had to improvise, so on a warm December afternoon I went out and dug up a clump of almost completely frozen primula vulgaris for forcing.
A month later and they’re starting to wake up. They probably won’t have as long a bloom season as some of the newer hybrid types, but I love their soft yellow color and big clumps of blooms.
I have a new favorite celebration. As any Northern hemisphere gardener will know, the winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the point beyond which days lengthen and the march into spring begins. But gardeners also know we don’t rush out in January and start planting. It takes a while for the sun to catch up, shake off winter, and get things going again. According to the ever interesting blog at MacGardens, the turning point for this is the January 21st celebration of ‘post-solstice’. One month after winter solstice and the sun is starting to turn the tide of winter, bringing soil temperatures back from their lowest point (happening somewhere around Jan 21st) back up into the civilized range. Speaking of civilized, check out MacGardens for a special treat of cool plants, exotic alpines, and just plain old interesting gardening.
Until post-solstice kicks in and we can again search for signs of life outdoors I’ll stick to the indoor garden. With more snow on the way tonight I think that’s the best plan. Here’s another plant making me happy sheltering from the storm under lights, it’s a variegated ice plant (dorotheanthus bellidiformis, probably ‘mezoo trailing red’). Not to ‘out’ my slacker gardening, but the cuttings might have been hastily thrown on a workbench back in November when the first hard frost hit. They sat there unplanted for at least a month until I got around to potting them up and don’t seem to have minded at all. Surviving rootless on a table for over a month ranks well on my plant-o-meter.
A few snowdrops weren’t stolen out of their pots or had their heads nibbled off by the late Mr. Mouse, so February should be off to a good, post-solstice, start. In either case I’m just happy that there’s already a bit of light on the horizon when I pull into work, and a rosy glow to the sky when I walk out!