Winter is the time when gardeners rest, but this the time when a gardener’s mind grows more restless. I’ve been dreaming of the warm rains in spring and hot glow of the sun in summer. Thoughts of new plants to try, plants to move or edit out constantly swirl about in my mind. I also grow impatient thinking about how well the garden will grow this year and I can’t wait to see old faithful plants awaken and blossom again, but until then it is just a dream.
During this time of year I am evermore appreciative for my houseplants. Their leafy green-ness and their blossoms help ease my feverish mind and achy fingers. My houseplants are mixture of permanent residents and semi-hardy plants that vacation inside during the cold months. I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of plants that have taken over the house, but my biggest project coming this year is emptying out the seed vault.
Winter is a great time to gather seeds and plan for the next growing season. There is a wonderful sense of achievement and adventure that comes from starting your own seeds – it’s like cracking a secret code that only Mother Nature knows. Plus starting plants from seeds is a great way to be economic. However, hoarding seeds isn’t really conducive to any of that. I collect metal tins to store my seeds in, but I am now at the point that I have too many tins and each tin is SO stuffed the lids won’t even stay on. I even have seeds that are about seven years old. Red flag? I think so too. I thought it would be fun to start all of my seeds this spring to give away to friends and to sell on random street corners throughout Seattle. This way the seed vault will get a cleansing and all the seedlings will get a chance at life.
There is an area of high pressure that has been sitting right above Seattle for the past week and it’s making for lovely sunny days, but below freezing nights. I went out into the garden to check up on how everything is dealing with the cold. In the front, I planted this Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akabana’ in early November and it’s nice to see that it’s still in bud and I am crossing my fingers there won’t be any die back from the cold snap. I love its cute slivery, furry buds and I can’t wait to see its glowing red, orange, and yellow flowers in full bloom.
In the back I discovered that my Golden Lotus strain hellebore was already blooming! I planted this hellebore the same day as the Edgeworthia and I wasn’t anticipating it to bloom until next winter. I bought this hellebore on sale and out of bloom, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Individual plants in a strain can be quite variable and without seeing it in bloom you won’t know for sure how the flowers will look, but I am a bit of a gambler and I love the thrill of rolling the dice of Lady Luck. I was hoping for a picotee flower (the edges of the petals are a different color) and I lucked out! What lovely semi-double hellebore! Hopefully as the weather warms up the flowers will take on a yellower hue.
This winter sunshine is a nice change of pace for Seattle, but I hope the plants still out in their pots will be okay after this cold snap. (This is yet another reason for me to build a cold frame.) These guys will be going into a new bed this spring. There is more to come, stay warm out there!