Gardens in the Snow.
Jan. 20, 2011 8:36 am
Updated: May 25, 2011 4:10 pm
Predictions of heavy snow and cold temperatures have come true and schools have been cancelled today. The snowplow is valiantly scraping down the highway trying to remove packed snow morning commuters left behind. Its success seems to be in better packing
the snow for their evening return. A miniature swirling snowstorm is pulling along behind the truck almost blocking it from view. Snow is sprinkling off my roof like sugar from an overturned jar and the hardiest of my feline pride is ready to venture out
yet again. Earlier the jaunt out the backdoor was short-lived and very unsatisfying for him. Pip is hoping a different door will show him a changed climate. So the front door it is this time. Much to his slit eyed dismay, he finds he still must go out
into the blustery snow filled winds to escape the confines of the house. And no the temperature has not improved either, something he seems to note with a backward glance at the closing door. So while Mother Nature is dropping Missouri into a snowy deep
freeze how is it I can be thinking about my gardens or gardening? Warm sunshine. Nope not today, I think a blue-colored 12 degrees is our expected high. Do I see plants and herbs vigorously stretching their way up out of the soil towards a bright blue sky?
Afraid the potted herbs and houseplants in the sunroom are in scrawny hunker down and wait for spring mode. Are there freshly harvested vegetables and fruit bursting with summer's bright flavor sitting on the counter waiting to be fixed? Naw, but last summer's
spicy pickled Blue Lake beans I'm snacking on are still crunchy with a modest green hue enhanced by turmeric.
Unlike my displaced California friend who swears Missouri only has 5-7 actually nice days and who at this minute is talking to her travel agent trying to arrange a trip to Cancun because she is so sure there is absolutely nothing good about a winter here, I
am appreciating this chilly time for several reasons. True, if I still had to commute home after a long day at work with the drive stretching from 35 minutes to an hour and a half or better due to snow and ice, I might not be thinking anything nice about
the fluffy flakes. I'm not cursing the cold and snow since I don't have to trudge through drifts or suit up against the bone chilling temperatures to feed and water livestock either. Winter is like a vacation for me now so I can have the luxury of appreciating
it. A break from the never ending weeding. A ceasefire in the battle of the bugs. No nasty little creatures trying to take a bite out of me or my produce. No critters to outsmart or keep from sampling my sweet corn and stripping my blueberry, blackberry
or raspberry bushes. No hot days in the kitchen canning my carefully gleaned produce. No muggy hot weather. All the not so nice things that can make a Missouri gardener's life less than fun filled.
Gardens are in view out almost every window. Not bright and blooming, the way my California friend prefers to see her landscape. No, in the wintry snowscape my gardens are showing me such a different side of themselves. Colors that don't appear except at
this time of year. Shapes and forms only the snow can make appear. Don't believe me? Just have a look.
Spent bronze fennel blooms cupping the snow to make a new flower. The center a fluffy white instead of the sunny yellow and pollen heavy bracts of summer with their developing licorice flavored seeds. The Japanese maple still holding onto a few faded crimson
Euonymous vines snaking up a tree with almost black green foliage.
Summer's self-sowing Opal basil, leafless now but holding tiny cups of seeds for foraging birds.
Yellow twig Dogwood, limbs changing from cheery yellow to spears of scarlet for the season.
The twisted and stiff architecture of trees contrasting darkly against a cold skyline. So different from when wrapped in summer's Kelly green while warm breezes brush through their leaves.
Stone structures in the garden squatting against the snow.
In the garden
Stone structures squatting
In the snow. Silent.
Haiku courtesy of our resident poet-Mike Harvey
The birds at the feeders. The rising sun brightness of cardinals sitting on the red twig Dogwood with cinnamon brown oak leaves behind. The mourning dove's fanned v-shaped flight. Finches no longer a cheery sunshine yellow but wearing winter's dreary garb.
There are other things to see if you have the time. Spent summer grasses showing butter cream yellow against the chocolate colored richness of a creek bank where its steepness wouldn't allow snow to stick. Rushes that escaped the mower showing Beef Burgandy
brown against the white. The whiteness of the snow looking violet blue in the predawn. Frost brushed trees their tops glowing pink with the rising sun their trunks a blue gray. The sky's horizon a gently washed shade of yellow. The sky promising with the
sun's climb to become a bright blue similar to the hard candies my Grandmother used to have in her candy dish next to the cellophone wrapped cinnamon and butterscotch ones.
After coffee and contemplating my cold season views when there is not so much to do, it is time to slip into a garden planning frame of mind with the help of these.
Seed catalogs with their kaleidoscopes of color. Gardening magazines showing me all the things I could possibly grow. Page after page of brightly colored luscious fruits and vegetables beckon me. Articles full of information about all that is new on the
gardening front! I will sort through my seeds to see what I need to order. The mini greenhouse will soon be filled with new sprouts-peppers, tomatoes and whatever else I choose to start. This will be the perfect gardening year!
Already I 'm thinking of freshly picked asparagus with sauteed wild Morels. Sweet corn picked at is peak. All colors and flavors of tomatoes gently warmed by the sun. Strawberries bursting with unsurpassed sweetness. Fresh just begging to be eaten peas.
No mater how tired or dusty I am from my gardening pursuits, I will take the time to pluck a pod of ripened peas to eat and I will remember the first time I did that in front of my then 6-year-old son. I will sit on the stone wall in my garden and think back
to that day when a skeptical child asked why I was eating raw peas from a pod. "Because I want to.," I said. "I'd let you try them but you don't like peas." My child's reply, "If I want to try them you will let me?" "Of course, here take this pod. I believe
it is quite ripe but don't forget you don't really like peas." And yes, I said that with a very straight face as only a mother who wants her child to like veggies can. There is nothing like a surprised young face when they discover a disliked food's flavor
is really quite nice.
So again, this year I plan the perfect garden while watching it snow. There will be no weeds. Every row soldierly straight. Everything well labeled so no year-end confusion of "Is it hot or mild?" I just know my team of 3-me, myself and I will get it all
done. This year I will not see the "Perfect Garden Ship" weigh anchor in March and set sail out of the harbor in April. Disappearing over the horizon in May while I gaze at the quickly growing weeds and hastily planted rows. No, not this year, it is a new
and different year. A perfect garden year! The calendar says spring is more or less 9 weeks away. Are you thinking about gardening where ever you are? What will be in your garden? Where ever it is and whatever you grow, I hope you too have a perfect gardening