Mild winter days

Posted in Places of the Spirit yesterday:

Today and yesterday were the perfect reminder of why winters in the Southeastern U.S. can be delightful, perhaps even more so in their changing climate iteration.  Frosty mornings gave way to clear, calm, sunny afternoons, with temperatures in the mid-50°F’s.

We’re expecting rain tomorrow and Friday, but for now, the bright mild winter days punctuate some of the colder weather we’ve had, which truly, is not very extreme as I track temperatures in Le Bic, Quebec, where we’ll be heading in January.

A search for “mild winter days” brought up a number of posts, more than I thought it would, actually.

It was interesting to see how many were about overwintering and growing vegetables in winter.

My vegetable gardening (and gardening in general) has been quiet in our traveling times over the last year and a half or so. And oddly, I look at the remnants of the pocket meadow/pollinator border and think about doing the final clean-up (snow battered down its “winter interest”) and think, well maybe tomorrow.

Juggling two different gardens now is an equal challenge — fast growing winter greens from February to May? — but wait, we’ll be in Ireland from late April to mid-May) –  or do I just wait to plant my beds and boxes in Quebec in late May with leafy greens?  Probably the latter, including some early cool season transplants in my beds here in February.

The beds were ready in this photo from February 3, 2016.  That was one of our recent winters where dramatic cold snaps froze out everything, providing clear planting spaces….

ready to plant, February, 2016

The first post listed in my “mild winter days” search (based on relevance) was this one:

Gardening in winter  (Natural Gardening, November 20, 2010)

In a mild winter climate, there’s not much excuse for retreating indoors at the first sign of gloom.

OK, I’m as susceptible as the next normal Southern U.S. gardener to whine when we have long dark rainy days for more than two days in a row.  Hmm, are we wimpy, or what?

But what our long seasons mean is that we can grow winter vegetables (some with a bit of protection) quite well, and that we can have winter interest in our gardens from berries, bark, seed heads, dried foliage, etc. that continue our gardening season through the winter and beyond.

I was reminded of this today by an excellent article by Piet Oudolf in Fine Gardening‘s regular e-mail.

In the long winter days in the Netherlands, he relies on many of our North American natives for winter interest in perennial borders.  He includes plants whose fruits, seedheads, or berries are interesting to look at throughout winter.  Totally wonderful.

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