Hello everyone...I hope you're all faring well so far this winter! I have to apologize for my lack of posts these past few weeks. We've had a huge surge of projects all wrapping up at the same time...so the past few weeks (and the upcoming several weeks) are pretty hectic at work. As a result, I've been getting home late...and kind of just want to collapse into my bed and veg out a bit.
Overall, it's been a very mild winter again here in Portland. The weekend before last, however, we got our first real frost (at least in my 'hood)! Not only did we get frost...but it was really foggy in the early morning hours. I was surprised how many people bemoaned the fog. While it's not exactly fun to drive in, I LOVE fog. There's nothing quite like that surreal quality that a dense fog imparts onto the world. Your own neighborhood suddenly feels mysterious...even a little foreboding...I love it!
As soon as I realized we'd had frost, I dashed out in my PJs to get some pics. I love how quiet and still the neighborhood felt, as if the whole world was holding its breath for that moment.
Scenes which just the day before had seemed drab were suddenly thrown into relief.
The tiered spires of Agastache suddenly reminded me of a Pagoda.
Allium seed heads seemed like earthbound snowflakes.
The multihued ribbons of Anementhale had gained lace trim.
Even the wonderfully sinister-looking seed heads of Echinacea received their dollop of icing.
I'm always mesmerized by the whimsical-looking spherical baubles that are the Anemone's seed heads.
I always imagine the recurved seed heads of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' look somewhat like claws.
As I snapped hundreds (ok, thousands) of photos in my pajamas, a neighborhood couple strolled by, on their way to the bus stop. I think they probably rolled their eyes as they approached, but as they approached the corner, I actually heard them gasp, "It's a winter wonderland!" They came back to tell me that I should make sure to take pictures of the front too ;-)
How amazing is it...the way frost highlights the structure of things...making me see them in a new light!
I'm enamored at its ability to edge such delicate structures into elegant traceries.
I hadn't noticed until now how the red coloring in the stems of Sedum 'Matrona' was still so visible. They were a warm counterpoint to the cooler tones surrounding them.
Spider webs, which had been invisible, are suddenly strung like garlands between branches.
This Pennisetum was especially spectacular, each individual awn delineated with white.
Believe it or not, this is just some weedy grass that escaped my watchful eye during the growing season. At this moment, however, I'm grateful I did...it's the perfect bit of filigree to contrast to the red stems of the variegated Willow.
Another group of grasses that are particularly handsome after a frost are the Panicums. Truth be told, there isn't really a time when they aren't lovely...but after being drenched with rain for the past few months, the frost transformed them into gossamer.
The structural, candelabra bloom stalks of Veronicastrum always seem wonderfully sombre to me...even when festooned with frosty banners.
While it's a somewhat unpopular sentiment...over the years, I've really come to value winter.
True...for us gardeners, it's not full of the non-stop excitement of spring, the lustiness of summer, or the abundance of fall. Still, there is a special value to the quietness of winter that I find appealing.
After a busy year in the garden, I need a break...and, if nothing else, winter forces me to take a few months off. The break in activity isn't just physical, but mental. I appreciate the perspective it gives me. When I'm in the midst of planting, watering, moving things around, etc., it's harder to see the big picture at times.
Truth be told, for me, part of the joy of gardening (a large part) is marking the season, and celebrating each of them in their turn. Without fail, I tire of them at some point, and feel the urge to move on to the next. I could never live somewhere without clearly-defined seasons...I think I'd go mad!
As I grow older and older (not by choice, I guarantee you), I also find that I appreciate the winter garden for it's own charms. There is something visceral about winter...as we move inside to snuggle up in blankets to watch re-runs of The Wonder Years and pour over seed catalogs, outside my window the garden contracts. It withdraws too.
We are not so different...and I feel a sort of kinship with the garden in winter. There's a sort of unspoken agreement that we'll wait this out...and meet up again in a few months.
I always think of the gardening year as a symphony. Without tempo changes or crescendos and decrescendos, it wouldn't be nearly as dynamic or entertaining
There is a truth in the withered forms and blackened seed heads in the winter garden...an honesty. This is life. It's a cycle, with beginnings and endings in continuous motion.
I hope you're making the most of winter wherever you are...