Something a bit different today...

Refreshingly cold as I first stepped out onto the deck, clues that this was a holiday lost behind the sliding glass door to the kitchen, an ordinary winter night surrounding me. Full trash bag in one hand and flashlight in the other, I paused before descending the stairs. The fact that I had slipped on the wrong sort of shoes for this time of year made me focus on the patches of ice remaining on the stair treads before me, and it was in this quiet, still moment that I heard the footsteps.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Pleasant Surprises

Even though temperatures are back to normal now -- even a bit above with high 50's F expected at least one day this holiday weekend -- we had a pretty severe cold spell a week or so ago. Temperatures dropped to a low of 13ºF (-10ºC) one night, and there were a few days in a row where it didn't get above mid-20's F.

So anything that I hadn't brought in for the winter and was not cold-hardy was certainly done for, frozen and reduced to mush after temperatures got back above freezing. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered a few plants that revealed themselves to be much more cold-hardy than I thought!


Overwintering, small scale

I tend to focus on the "big" aspect of overwintering plants: dragging the towering potted papyrus inside, digging up the huge colocasia (elephant ears), mulching the bananas with 250 cubic feet of leaves or more. There's the small side of overwintering too, the little details that might get overlooked.

For instance, the first emergence of the purple fountain grass, the point at which I can relax because I know that those one or two-stem divisions were successful. Plus it's so enjoyable watching their progress every day, like spring indoors.


Overwintering looks better up close

Sun-loving plants indoors under fluorescent lighting does not make the happiest of scenes. These plants want to be basking in the sun's brilliance, not subsistent in the feeble shine of those glassy tubes.

Even so there's a beauty here, emphasized by a too-close eye. The limited view accentuates the natural geometry, magnifies the color, amplifies it all, pulling texture from the smooth.


New evidence: I started early!

I've written about my start in gardening before, where falling trees in my yard created impromptu planting beds, and the bug bit me. That was around 2002, maybe a year or two earlier. So I've been a gardener for about 15 years or so. Or so I thought.

Newly-discovered evidence has proven that my gardening started earlier than the year 2000. Much earlier indeed!


So early, but so nice

Still cold here, and getting colder (tonight's low is forecast to be 13ºF/-10ºC). The big surprise though was snow yesterday.

Not just the dusting that we woke up to either, we got a couple of inches of fluffy stuff. Snow in mid-November in St. Louis is not unprecedented, but is not too common. Checking the records, every 15-20 years or so it happens.


Book Review: Deep-Rooted Wisdom

Suppose I asked you to tell me everything you know about plants and gardening. Not the specific plants themselves -- I don't want you to create a list of plants -- but things in general: how to plant, what tools to use, where to get plants, how to create good soil, pest management, etc. Everything you can think of related to your garden. A daunting task, right? Now suppose that I asked you to include details on how you learned each of these things, especially if you learned it from another gardener.

That's how I can best describe Deep-Rooted Wisdom, "Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners" by Augustus Jenkins Farmer (2014, Timber Press). It's "everything" Jenks Farmer knows about gardening plus lots of stories about the people who taught him.



Hello polar vortex! Displaced again, are you? The middle of the country is getting an early taste of what will probably be another harsh winter, and although it made me do a lot of work in a short amount of time, I'm glad to have the cold air come in and take out the mold spores.

Still though, this is a bit too cold, too fast. In St. Louis this morning it was about 22ºF (-5ºC), and it looks like early next week we'll be wishing it were as warm as that, with 15ºF (-9ºC) lows forecast.


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