After sleet, snow, ice and 6 degrees, my February Gold daffodils can still lift their heads.

feb_gold

Amazing–since this winter that won’t end has nearly flattened me–

Flowers that bloom at this time of year have to be study. And our recent cold, icy weather has certainly put them to the test.

My (splendid) winter-blooming trees, Prunus mumue and winter sweet have lost their flowers to the cold. Don’t worry. The plants will survive but the blossoms are gone for this year.

survior_2

Not so for my February Gold.

survior_lenten rose and daf

Is any color more hopeful than yellow?

It’s snowing again in Wake County this morning. Enough already. Please hurry Spring!!


This is the year I’m going to finally give up on my dream of an English border. I have neither the space, the sun, the climate, or the staff required to pull it off.

After all, I live on a mostly wooded lot in hot, humid climate where plants slug it out for water and sun. It’s time to grow up get real.

Wake up. girl! You live in the woods.

Wake up. girl! You live in the woods.

So this year I will plant more shrub groups. Shrubs give my garden backbone, and they’re generally super-tough.

Shrubs make a big splash in less than perfect conditions

Shrubs make a big splash in less than perfect conditions

I will still plant flowers in 2015, but this year I’m going to try working backwards. Instead of leafing though beautifully photographed seed catalogs on long winter’s nights, I’ll pick 4 or 5 tried and true annuals I can’t live without and plant them in larger patches.

Manos beauty is one annual I will always grow

Manos beauty is one annual I will always grow

This is the year I will finally say NO to polka dot planting. I will set out my flowers in groups of 5 or more.

It's a garden, not a vase.  Plant fewer varieties in multiples of 5 or more--

It’s a garden, not a vase. Plant fewer varieties in multiples of 5 or more–

And I’m finally going to give up on zinnias. I won’t stop loving them, but I will stop trying to grow them. I just don’t have the space or full sun.

What about you? January is a month for planning. How do you plan to improve your garden this year?


Before I order my spring seeds, it’s time to toss some old ones.

IMG_2780

Not all of them, of course. Many seeds are viable for years if you store them in a cool dry place–I use a vintage canvas suitcase that fits under a living room bench. But why hold on to the verbascum from 2010, if I have a later crop at hand?

verbascum

Doing a seed inventory also helps me remember what did well last year and what wasn’t worth the space. (Those seeds get tossed in the trash!)

seed-mess

There are two kinds of seeds in my collection: Open-pollenated seeds that I’ve collected from favorite garden plants (mostly flowers), and purchased (mostly hybrid tomato and vegetable) seeds.

It’s an important distinction–just ask anyone who has ever tried growing open-pollenated heirloom tomatoes under less than perfect conditions. It’s really, really tough.

Hybrid tomatoes and vegetables, which have been bred from two or more parents for certain characteristics, do much better at our house.

But hybrids don’t come true from home-collected seed, so I’ll need to get out the credit card.

Which brings us to $$$s…

Seeds may look inexpensive at first glance, but that shopping cart fills up quickly. I try to limit myself to 3 new varieties every season. I usually end up with about 5–

Did I mention growing plants from seed is addictive? Have you gotten hooked yet?


As the garden winds down outdoors, I treasure having bits of it inside.

tablebetter_mid

Case in point–this homage to mother nature on a table in our dining room window.

table_cuttingsbetter

Cuttings from tender plants are rooting in water.

table_celosia

Annual Celosia is dropping seeds on a china plate. I’ll plant these little black seeds next spring.

table_betterbirds

I found this wooden knot on a walk a few years ago. It makes a wonderful stand for my vintage metal salt shaker birds.

table_wide

These little connections to the natural world make me feel better at a time of year when days are short, often wet and gloomy.

Next on my list: Boxwood in vases and bowls of Nandina berries for the holidays.

What about you? How do you enjoy bringing the outside IN?


I do LOVE the turkey with all the traditional fixings, but I may be more excited about the daffodil bulbs now spread out on our dining room table than the upcoming feast.

thanks_bulbs2

For years, I have devoted the day after Thanksgiving to planting my spring blooming bulbs.

The timing is right. The soil must be cool for bulb planting in the South. And I always used to have the day after T’giving off when I worked my big girl job.

But blub planting on Black Friday works for me on a much deeper level. Like a lot of creative people, I struggle with balance. That means the holidays are a mine field.

Bulb planting grounds me (literally) on one the year’s craziest days. And it gets the job done before the busiest part of the season so my bulbs DON’T end up stuffed in the garage and forgotten until 2015.

This year, I’m planting two old favorites. Both February Gold and Ice Follies naturalize in my woods garden. That means their foliage has time to ripen and store energy for the next spring’s bloom before the trees leaf out.

Note that I’m planting them in large numbers. Bulbs are small, especially viewed from a window on a cold early March day.

Also note that until planting time, the bulbs are spread out in shallow boxes in a place that is not too hot or cold. Temperature and air circulation are very important when storing bulbs. Don’t worry– I’ll clear off the table before the feast, though.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Blub Planting! Enjoy!

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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