Closed for the Winter/Gone Dreamin’

Sadly, I had to admit that it was time to close up shop again for the winter. Finally, all my plants have been put to bed.

I only go out to the porch now to get my morning paper, shivering a little in my sweat pants outfit I call my pajamas. I peer over the railing to look for shallow holes, hoping that another bulb hasn’t been unearthed by one of my many squirrel friends.

A few weekends after I put my spring bulbs in, I cut everything back to a few inches, including my Peonies. You’re supposed to wait until spring to do this but they had developed a mild form of powdery mildew. This somewhat alarming state was due to the water dripping from my window box with the Morning Glories. I hope that the Peonies will be alright, spring wouldn’t be the same without their heady scent.

I save a few stalks of Autumn Joy like I do every year. Their rusty brown red does look nice in a vase. I brighten for a moment because I love to bring reminders of the summer into my house.

I tie up the rose canes so that they don’t whip around in the winter wind. After the first frost, I must remember to mound up some dirt around the Queen of Sweden rose bush. Some experts say that cloaking roses in the earth gives them a kind of winter coat, protecting the roots. They were confused, poor things, by the unseasonably warm weather, and started to bloom again. A few rosy souls are peeking out of their green cladding, now with a wary glance. Soon, the buds will be frozen in their tracks.

I stand up to stretch for a moment. Funny how despite the warm fall day you can smell the coming cold snap on the edge of the rustling wind.

I leave most of the tall prickly Globe Thistle to lean over the garden so that it can catch the winter snow. If I wasn’t so attached to the idea of an old-fashioned cottage garden, I might have planted some grasses to add to the wintery forms.

I also leave all the plants with the woody stems alone, like the Lavender and Catmint. How convenient that woody plants do best if you wait until spring to prune. I happily abandon the idea of adding anymore mulch. The 3 inches or so I spread around in May will suffice. I choose to agree with the opinion that too much mulch can breed disease.

When I go back inside, I can see a few determined paper-thin leaves holding onto the oak branches outside the kitchen window. After a while, I start to dream about how I can add more color to my garden next year. I rustle around and find my highly-annotated garden sketch. Maybe I’ll add some Monkshood for its late-blooming purple and soft petals. My cold-weather ritual has begun.

Even though I gripe about winter every year, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is something reassuring and timeless about the way that the seasons cycle through the year. The way you can smell snow coming on a day with a powdery gray sky.

On the radio, I can hear a cathedral choir singing the Holly and the Ivy. Christmas is on its way. The soaring soprano voices above the robust tenors are hopeful every time. And so it goes…

Garden Reading Notes
If you are starting to hunker down, you might want to check out The Gardener’s Year by Czech author Karel Capek, a prolific writer better known for coining the word “robot” in his 1921 play, R.U.R. This little book had me laughing out loud with its very human descriptions of the struggles we gardeners endure and includes illustrations by his brother.

The book gives you a feeling of a moment in time as Capek wrote it in 1929, not long before Hitler rose to power. Capek also wrote a number of anti-Nazi plays and died in 1938 soon after the Munich Agreement was signed.

Many thanks to all the Blotanists who have made me feel so welcome!

Wishing everyone a happy holidays,
Lisa G.



  1. It’s cold here, too! I was outside in my flannel PJs the other morning, taking photos of frosted plants. Brrrr! That’s what blotanical has done to me. Although I like looking at your snow, now that Christmas is over, I’m ready for spring. Of course, winter has just arrived, and I will have to wait a couple months for things to warm up. Have a very happy New Year!

    • Thanks, Deborah. Yes, what a crazy lot we gardeners are, I was in my bathrobe taking my winter garden pics.

      Happy New Year!

  2. Hi Lisa, thanks for taking us into your space and sharing your thoughts of the winter. It was just like sitting at the table with you and chatting! We have that book, it makes great bedtime reading, a little each night to give us pleasant gardeny dreams of spring. May you have the best Christmas ever.

    • Hi Frances, Thanks so much for your message. How nice to get it just as I head out for the holiday! Glad to know that you were invited in by the writing.

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Lisa, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. I have enjoyed your blog and am looking forward to reading it next year.

    • Many thanks, Deborah. I look forward to more of your garden thoughts to sustain me over the winter.

      Happy Holidays!

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