A January Thaw

Saturday I put on a sweatshirt and the Christmas lights came down.  Of course the job is ten times easier when a couple extra hands join in, but surprisingly both children had much more important things to do so only the dog was there for me.  He’s not quite as helpful as you might think.  The lights all came down and then the porch got a good hosing off, and once that was done I rewarded myself with a little puttering around.  The front foundation bed (the warmest spot in the garden) got a little cleaning up and the sprouting snowdrops are all ready to show off to best effect.  Too bad we woke to actual snow the next morning.

frozen snowdrops

Snowdrops up to their ankles in the white stuff again.  Most are still just fine, although here and there is some singed foliage and freeze dried scapes.

You could barely call our last warmup a January thaw.  First of all it’s February and second of all we barely melted the snow from the last storms and there’s still a good amount of ice in every shady bed and covering most of the lawn.  I’m an optimistic early cleaner, but even I left plenty since I know the cold still has another week or so in it.  Back inside to the winter garden.  I’ve been taking cuttings and repotting amaryllis.  Primrose are showing buds.  It’s everything the outside garden isn’t.

variegated pelargonium

Look at the cool foliage of this variegated pelargonium.  No idea on the name, but I’ll be interested to see how much of the pink remains once the temperatures warm up.

The winter garden can use the attention since once things warm up outside I can barely be bothered with watering anything indoors.  The amaryllis will be cool and a few are already showing buds, but overall the indoor gardening space is beginning to get tight with all the new pots I’ve been adding.  I was joking with a friend that what I need is a spring garage sale to clear out everything from under the garage lights, but then what would I do if I needed a few dozen pots of succulent cuttings in June?  Bet they didn’t think of that.

salvia cestrum nocturnum

This red salvia is the perfect color for February.  Cestrum nocturnum (night-blooming jasmine) is the taller plant and I really hope I get some blooms on it this summer.

Two pots of Cestrum nocturnum is probably one more than I need, but night-blooming jasmine is one of my latest favorite plants.  It was one of those things which followed me home from a late autumn garden visit.  “Take this, you’ll want this” was what I was told as branches were lopped off and pushed into my hands.  Of course I dutifully added them to the haul and didn’t think much else of it until the sun began to set as I motored home again through the mountains.  Slowly as the scenery turned to night I began to take notice of a sweet scent filling the car.  Night-blooming jasmine is a real thing and I enjoyed a thoroughly perfumed car ride for the tail end of my trip.  I’m already imagining a hot summer night where the deck is filled with a jasmine fragrance, but of course I shouldn’t count my chickens before they’ve hatched since any number of things can go wrong between now and then.

I don’t care though.  It’s still February and 2022 will be the most perfect and perfumed gardening year this plot of earth has ever imagined or experienced.  Weeds will be non-existent and rainfall will arrive perfectly timed and only at night.  Mosquitos and gnats will lose their taste for (my) blood and I’ll practically live in the garden.  And it won’t be a dirty, sweaty, often bloody life it will be all cold drinks and white shorts.  Absolutely.

And if you believe that you’ll probably also believe I’m not going to mention snowdrops one more time.  The forecast looks to be warming and plans are afoot for a Philly snowdropping trip late next week and I’m all ears for new gardens to visit.  It will be fun I’m sure so until then enjoy your week 🙂

21 comments on “A January Thaw

  1. Pauline says:

    Your winter garden is amazing, the best sort of gardening if your outdoor one is covered in snow and ice! Fingers crossed that all your snowdrops will all survive unscathed, in the wild they get plenty of snow where they originally come from. We are being lashed by storms at the moment, you keep sending them over!!

    • bittster says:

      I hope the storm left you with nothing more than a few twigs on the lawn and some tousled shrubbery, and I apologize for sending yet another round of wind your way! I promise from now on we will at least keep the cold to ourselves 😉
      You’re right, even with another round of cold the snowdrops look well. I think it will only get ugly if we receive a major dump of snow in March and it crushes all the sprouts and blooms under one last (heavy) load. March snow melts fast, but it also puts me behind in the cleanup.

  2. Cathy says:

    Salvia flowers in February are so uplifting! The variegated Pelargonium is so pretty too. Just what you need to keep you going till it warms up outdoors. Your optimistic predictions for 2022 sound very good indeed. 🤣 Now wouldn’t it be a surprise if you were right! (Well, the mosquito bit is probably asking just too much!) 😉

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I don’t even know what I’d do if it were a biting bug-free summer. At this point the mosquitos are tolerable because they respect bug repellent, but the blackflies still fly into your eyes and ears as if you asked them to. Holy cow if you heard what comes out of the gardener’s mouth as he’s throwing gloves off and dancing around because a bug dove into his ear. It makes me twitch just thinking about it!
      Not much longer though…. for the flowers, not the bugs 😉

  3. Not even April Fools Day and you’re fooling with your readers – no gnats or mosquitos, that’s a nice dream! Lovely geranium!

  4. Paddy Tobin says:

    The more I read of your gardening conditions, and of Bob’s, the more I am grateful for our mild climate here in Ireland. We have had no snow so far this winter; it really is quite rare here and we have had only occasional light frosts. Although we have a forecast for stormy conditions today was a very mild day with temperatures up to 15C (59F, I believe) and I spent the morning photographing snowdrops before the rain began. Now I have something to do for the afternoon – edit all those photographs!

    • bittster says:

      I think if the weather here was milder and more forgiving I’m sure I’d find something else to complain about. It keeps things interesting. Each morning I check the forecast to look ahead for the next storm and then it’s a waiting game to see what comes of it, and the child in me still loves snow days.
      A few years ago we had a snowdrop season full of cool and uneventful days where the flowers seemed to last forever. After two weeks I started to get a little bored 😉

  5. We are having the strangest winter. I bet we haven’t gotten over a foot of snow the entire season so far. Lots of single digit days and nights. Today it is supposed to jump up to 45° and rain. I am worried I will lose a lot of last year’s new plantings. So I would be happy with your snow cover. I bought a couple of Hyacinths to get me through the month since I don’t have your wonderful winter garden. I, for one, am looking forward to your snowdrop visit. Loving all the American garden FB snowdrop posts.

    • bittster says:

      I hope a few of your snowdrops are starting to nose up, late winter rain has a way of moving things along quickly in a way that even a few warmer dry days doesn’t. We’ve been getting quite a few rainstorms this winter in spite of the stretches of cold weather, and I for one would have appreciated a little more snow. Only time will tell how the strange weather will effect the newer plantings. Hopefully the steady cold will help more than you think, and work out much better than an endless string of freeze-thaw nights which rip the garden apart.
      Hmmm. I guess there’s still plenty of winter left to still have that happen…
      But for now all I keep thinking about are snowdrops! -and witch hazel. Even with temps that stayed under freezing all yesterday the first blooms were starting to open. Tomorrow is warmer and I think it will look like spring for a couple hours at least 😉

  6. Mary Jo says:

    Thank you, Frank! I love reading each post of yours, and your winter garden is amazing :). I’ve tried my hand at planting red salvias myself but the frosts always kill the poor babies…. Posts like this always keep me motivated to work on my garden. Great post as always 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! The red salvia is such a bright color for these icy days. I’m hoping it keeps going into spring and I’m wondering how it will grow this summer. It was just a cutting someone gave me last fall and now I’m trying to remember just how big their plant was. I don’t think I had to bend over to look at it and I don’t think the pot it was in was all that tall!
      I was spending some of the colder nights looking through old pictures and remembering past seasons here. Funny that some of the before pictures look better than the after, but the whole process is a great way to spend a summer 🙂

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Your winter garden must be a lifeline for you, Frank. The night jasmine sounds divine. I love any of those cool loving bloomers, scent is always a bonus. Another warm up this weekend into the week ahead, fingers crossed. It’s school vacation week, yes? Enjoy!

    • bittster says:

      Ugh, no school vacation in this state, just the New Yorkers coming over to rub it in! But we do have this Monday off, and it looks warmer so that’s exciting.
      I’ve been very lazy in the winter garden the last few days. Just sitting and enjoying and I guess that’s a good thing too. Maybe I should use that warm spell to plant a few more seeds 😉

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I believe, I BELIEVE…

    • bittster says:

      Keep trying Lisa, it will be spring before we know it!
      -and then we’ll be sweaty and achy and itchy and the winter break won’t seem all that bad 😉

  9. Carol E says:

    Are you planning to come to Ithaca for our 3-day national NARGS conference? June 14-16th. Our newsletter at acnargs.org has more details. Our Chapter members can come buy at the awesome plant sale: 7 vendors over 2 late afternoons – that at the very least might get you here.

    • bittster says:

      Ohhhhhhhh… I was so confident that I wasn’t going to head up there, and now you have me tempted. Really. I was just talking to Kathy Purdy about the extension sale and how the Friday doesn’t work well for me, but two late afternoons would absolutely work. And it would be fun. And mid June is an excellent time of year for roadtrips. Hmmmm. Maybe I need to look at the newsletter one more time.
      I just worry about the people I’d meet. There were some terrible influences at the May plant sale, I can only imagine what kind of people go to a conference!

  10. pbmgarden says:

    I love that you rewarded yourself with “a little puttering around.” Those are some of the most rewarding moments in gardening. Between your snowdrops and your colorful indoor garden, life is pretty good.

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