Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Weather Alert

Valentines Day is over, Lent begins this week and it's Day Number One of a deep, deep freeze, here at Blooming Hill.  The weathermen have not labeled this a "polar vortex" however, the northwestern side of the house might disagree with that today, as it is feeling the brunt of icy 30 - 40 mile per hour winds that keep slamming up against the cedar siding.  The dog keeps looking at the door, waiting for whatever the invisible force is banging on it, to just come in, already! FYI Tucker, it's not a dog-walking sort of a day, either.

This year, Punxsutawney Phil (THE ground hog) reluctantly informed us that there will be six more weeks of winter.  At this point, the difference between six more weeks or two months, really doesn't matter and the words of actor Bill Murray, as weatherman Phil Conners, in the film Ground Hog Day, spring to mind, "It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey and it's going to last you the rest of your life." Well-- surely it can't be that dire!

I check the greenhouse temperature on the remote gauge in the kitchen and breathe a sigh of relief that it remains a balmy 63 degrees with the sun shining through its windows and the heaters busily heating.  Thank goodness for cool-loving plants like annual lavenders, bays, myrtles, rosemary's and scented geraniums.  They are still happy and snug and not quite ready to burst out of the greenhouse, just yet.  But they'll be getting antsy soon.--Very soon!

Looking out the window, even leafless tree branches swirl a little helplessly and some fall to the ground, courtesy of the cruel wind.  Not much snow on the ground here in Northern Virginia, but there is still plenty of February left, not too mention unpredictable March. Even though the sun is shining today, Phil Conner's words ring a little true in my ears. So, I look for a little more reassurance that cold and grey are not the only things left in the long-distance future.

The shape and form of the garden in winter can be as important as it is in summer.  It can raise your spirits by the beauty of it's bones or you can long for summer even more, by only seeing it's sparseness.  For me, the gardens promise that spring will come again as the silver trimmed lavenders stand stoically out in the field and the perennial beds, herb and knot gardens wait patiently for color and their sweet flower companions to come again.   Hopefully, sooner than I imagine.

Until then, if February can't offer comfort and warmth, this month at least offers seed catalogs and garden magazines to curl up with and peruse, while sipping a comforting cup of Blooming Hill's "Blooming Bouquet" citrus and lavender tea. Beyond that, there is potpourri to blend and plant cuttings to feed, water and pot up, then plan for still more lavender to plant. This spring, a new field of L. angustifolia 'Elizabeth' and L. angustifolia 'Buena Vista,' two of my favorite varieties of lavender, will be installed and, lest I forget, we need to get going on the weeding, hoeing and general spring clean-up, in every nook, cranny and corner, here at the farmlet.  Come to think of it, six more weeks or two more months of cold and grey may not be so bad after all.

Note to readers: All pictures and illustrations, except for cherubs on stone plaque (Blooming Hill), are taken from The Scented Garden, Rosemary Verey, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981.