The Passing of Winter

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

As an outdoors enthusiast and a gardener, winter can be a little tough. Not to say I can’t be an outdoors enthusiast during the winter – I love winter activities such as snowshoeing and I love learning about the natural world in its time of dormancy. But we gardeners can feel ourselves chomping at the bit a little as February goes on.

In these recent winters, I feel myself relaxing, flowing with the winter storms and icy cold. I’ve recently come across the saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” So I invested in a warm winter coat, good gloves, and water-proof boots with a comfortable lining. I crocheted a snug hat, and off I go, into the cold!

When I’m indoors, I light candles and I curl up with a fun book, or I invite friends over for a night of games and good food.

Winter in New England can be a time for us to pause, reflect, and engage in warming self-care activities that prepare us for all the activity of the growing season. It’s also a time for planning! And boy, have I had fun planning!

I’ve planned a privacy screen for one side of the property, where the neighbors and I can see into each other’s yards. It gets some shade, so I’ve gone with a mix of American Holly (Ilex opaca), Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), and inkberry (Ilexa glabra).

American Holly (Ilex opaca) gets tree sized, and benefits a wide variety of birds and pollinators. Image credit: Kimonis Kramer

In the front yard, I’ll be continuing work on the circle garden, and the garden against the house.

Further down the driveway, I’m dreaming of a mix of highbush blueberry, redbud, and winterberry. Along the rock wall, I’m thinking of junipers. I’m going to find out if the cherry tree in the front yard is a black cherry or a Japanese cherry, and either cultivate it or cut it down.

And of course, I’m not just planning the native plant gardens. I’ve got a vegetable plot, an herb garden, and plenty of pots to fill. I ordered seeds the other day from Baker Creek, and as soon as they arrive, I’m starting my sets of onions and leeks, and then starting seeds for tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and brassicas. I’m living the dream, here!

Meanwhile, I’ll wander outside still, take note of which birds have migrated and which are lingering. I’ll fill my birdfeeders, and note the places I need to take down oriental bittersweet (those vines are so easy to find in winter). I will also light more candles, eat more warm food, and spend dear time with friends and family to keep up this cheery winter.