Winter Begins

I hope you are enjoying the Holiday Season in whatever way you celebrate it (or don’t). Today, the first day of winter, makes me think of:

Cold – the lowest temperatures yet are expected tonight and tomorrow night. But once the sun comes over the hill, it has been warming up nicely, allowing plenty of comfortable working in and enjoying the out of doors. Wreaths, swags and other decorations have been made from plant materials from the garden and I am cooking and baking up a storm from the garden/farm bounty. What a great time of year!

Rain? -The dry weather means I’ve had to turn the irrigation back on several times for scheduled soakings at several gardens. Even though the temperatures are cool or cold, the air has been dry and transpiration continues in even pretty low air and soil temperatures, so the moisture must be replenished. No rain means I can be lazier about leaving tools outside but, still and all, we could use a good storm, couldn’t we?

New Plants – I hope you have had a fun Autumn planting some new and interesting California native plants, sprucing up the garden with a different variety or making some much needed improvements in structure and bad view screening. As we head further into winter, we plant fewer plants and let the garden rest a bit. Spreading mulch, pruning, monitoring irrigation are the tasks of the seasons.

Observation – There is still plenty of activity out there and subtle changes. The Sages, Manzanitas, Ceanothus and other spring-blooming shrubs will be forming buds. Cool season grasses, bulbs, lupins, and a few early wildflowers are starting to emerge (hope they won’t wither in this winter dryness). Hungry birds will be searching for any available berries from Coffeeberry, Snowberry, Redberry and Poison Oak (mostly leafless stalks now) and from grasses and perennials. Bundle up and take a walk. Avoid the Poison Oak, which is mostly leafless stalks now and more difficult to recognize unless you are aware. Observation is always a good thing to do in gardens and in the wild, but in winter it seems especially appropriate, as if this season more than others requests and rewards looking, listening, sitting on a log or bench and being present in the world of plants and all that relies on them for life.

Have a great winter!

Peyton

Winter in the Garden - 2011

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