Saturday, January 7, 2012

Adventures In Gardening: Oh Winter, Where Are You?

Happy New Year everyone! January is underway and, oddly enough, as I look of the wide open patio door from the kitchen into the back yard, I don't see snow or even ice. As a matter of fact, it's 64* here today in NJ Zone 7a as I write this. Motorcycles have been roaring down the highway to the beach since this morning. Autumn Joy Sedum is re-blooming on the front porch & last week I had a yellow bloom open on the Forsythia Bush! There's new growth on all of the Knockouts. Even Rosa 'Pope John Paul II' Hybrid Tea is joining in and my Azalea's look as if they're about to bloom! (This worries me as Winter is surely to return).

This time last year, we were still recovering from the "Day After Christmas Blizzard" and preparing for another snowfall. The snow in our back yard was four feet deep where it hadn't drifted, the spare room windows were covered completely, as were our bedroom windows, with a drift roughly 10 feet high. Temperatures were frigid. My childhood was filled with winters like that! I loved it! I'll admit that getting nearly an entire season's worth of snow in one shot was rather a bit much as it took us 5 days to finish digging out (drifts averaged 8-12 feet high!), but I love my winters snowy & cold and I've yet to get over my child-like enthusiasm for snow. The closest I believe I've ever been to having 'Zen'-like moments have been while standing outside as the flakes swirl about in the wind around me. Like gardening, snow soothes my soul and fills my heart with great joy. I think it's also one of the most beautiful times in the garden and 2011 was my best season ever, which I feel had much to do with the snowy Winter.

Warm winters make me thoroughly cranky and throw me completely out of sorts! I need four distinct seasons, though, truth be told, I could do without NJ's hot & humid summers. I could gleefully live in perpetual Autumn, Winter & Spring! It seemed in the last few years we returned to our normal seasons & winters here, finally leaving our fairly Winter-less years behind us. During those strange years, Summer continued into late Autumn, Autumn took over December and wet Springs began in January that months later turned back into Summer. And we never got a break from the humidity. Things bloomed out of season. The only exception would be in February & March, the weeks of Valentines & St. Patrick's, when we'd get some snow that melted down shortly after and a lot of ice, inches worth at one shot. I'd much rather have snow than ice, though it was quite beautiful to look at.

As I've always loved the colder months of the year (since I was a little girl), until I began gardening, I used to get Horribly depressed when Spring arrived! (imagines gasps of horror, fainting, jaws agape, cyber rocks thrown) I know, I should have better prepared you for such a startling confession and I apologize! Until I realized just how much gardening was helping me to heal & move forward in ways I'd never expected, I was initially thankful just to have found a way to help me through the 'awful & depressing' warmer months of the year. (dodges another cyber rock) Though Winters' end still saddens me, I now have something to look forward to and it's exciting!

Over time, gardening has also helped me to be even more in tune with the ebb & flow of the seasons, appreciating each one and what it has to offer. (Though, honestly, and forgive me for repeating myself, but I really do dread our Summers!!!) I still long for Autumn & Winter year round, but, now I notice the changes in the landscape with each season more than ever before, and that in & of itself is a blessing in my humble book!

The weather man says Winter will return around the middle of January. I'll believe it when I see it and hope my garden senses the changes coming and gets back to sleep soon. Now that Christmas is packed away, I wont be able to resist that ever-growing stack of gardening catalogs much longer, though I'd prefer to sit down with them or some new gardening memoirs, beside the front window when the snow is falling and dream of Spring.

*Stay tuned for "Adventures In Gardening: Gardening Themed Reads, A January Tradition."*

Diggin' Around
New Jersey Through My Eyes

(Funny, when I told Hubby the night before last I was going to write another column, he asked, "What's there to write about gardening when it's Winter?!" "Plenty," I replied. "Plenty," and smiled).


Anonymous said...

We keep getting the same forecast here on the West Coast. We have had two really cold and wet summers, followed by warm and sunny winters. It's confusing. I don't know if I should go plant peas now or wait.

Plus there the whole no snow for skiing thing, which is pretty annoying.

Southern California Woman Rancher said...

Wonderful post <|;-)

Jo said...

Thank you Annie! :o)

Karenish, we have no snow here either for the snow season tourism and I doubt anywhere else in the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic does either! So Odd!!!

Anonymous said...

Great Post. In the deep south, you never know if ever whether or not winter will truly arrive. I found a lone daffodil blooming! I think we have some chilly days yet to come.

Jo said...

Thanks Chris! I'm sure Mother Nature has Something in store for all of us this Winter though she's been quite the baffling lady in the last year or so!