How to Survive Winter

I try to enjoy winter. I don’t have to try with spring, summer or autumn, I just enjoy them without needing to put any effort into it.

I enjoy the first half of winter: cosying up indoors, the excitement of Christmas, some nice crisp walks in winter sunshine.

But halfway through January, I really have to start trying to enjoy winter. The closer we get to spring, the more excruciating the wait for spring becomes. I am DESPERATE to start sowing seeds, but experience tells me it is best to hold off until at least mid-February for perennials, and March for annuals.

One unexpected pleasure this winter has been the sharing of cuttings with gardening friends.

First, my wonderful colleague Tina gave me a cutting of a fuchsia. This came in a beautiful terracotta pot. She told me to only water it from the saucer below, and to remove any flower buds that might develop.This took pride-of-place on my kitchen windowsill. There is something so special about a plant given by a friend.

I was out taking a lunchtime walk at work one day, passing a small garden with a beautiful mature fuchsia by the front door. I have admired it many times, and it was one of the few plants in full flower in late October. The owner, an old lady, happened to come out of her front door as I was passing, and so I told her how much I loved that fuchsia. ‘Here’, she said, and promptly pulled a bit off the plant and handed it to me. I cradled it for the rest of my walk, put it in some water when I got back to work, and took it home with me. Sadly the cutting didn’t take, but I was so touched by that lady’s spontaneous sharing.

In the same week, the lovely Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden sent me three cuttings of salvia, one of which I had admired whilst reading her blog, and two more varieties that she just thought I would like.

Here they are, carefully packaged, as they arrived in the post:

I potted them up promptly. Taking inspiration from Tina, I chose three terracotta pots we had in the greenhouse.

I placed them on our second kitchen window-sill, moving the jugs that are usually on display there.

They have been giving me delight all through the winter, as I can see them growing.

I especially like the way their leaves are slightly translucent in the sunshine.

Every time I see these fuchsia and salvia cuttings, I feel a little warm glow inside, because human beings are generous, and like to share their blessings.

Thank you Tina, Cathy, and the lovely lady on my lunchtime walk. You are all helping me to enjoy winter.

The Mindful Gardener keeps dashing out of the back door to peer under her Rosa rugosa hedge to see if there is any sign of the snowdrops she planted there. She can see the miniature irises she planted in pots pushing up through the gravel now. Oh it is a tantalising season!

If you would like to show your sympathy for the agonies of winter, and share in the relief of spring, then you might like to ‘follow’ The Mindful Gardener. Click on the big ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of the post, and you will receive an email when a new post is published. There will be snowdrops and crocuses and [sigh] tulips!

35 Comments Add yours

  1. nanacathy2 says:

    What a wonderful post. Winter can be such a difficult season to love. I concentrate on the birds in the garden, some of who are now checking out nesting sites, and the snowdrops. I love to visit friends and family with a freshly dug clump to spread the joy, as well as moving a few round the garden each year.

    1. That is such a wonderful gift! True generosity. Birds bring me a lot of joy at this time of year too. Especially the long-tailed tits.

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Oh, I know that feeling – wanting to get going, but not wanting to go too soon. I don’t often do cuttings, but this is such a lovely post – pleasure in the plants and the people who shared.

    1. I am inspired to take more cuttings. I have always been nervous about it, and leave cuttings to my mum because she’s really successful with cuttings. It’s such a good way to increase stocks and share plants.

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        It’s definitely a skill worth honing for all the reasons you say, Ali.

  3. Anything green in winter makes me smile.

    1. I see why you have a green-filled house now!

  4. I loved this. I am busy unmulching and remulching. I have trouble in winter also. It may hit 70 today in NC … again. So I am pretending it is spring. The weeds are too.

    1. I once read that most garden plants start growing at around 7 degrees c. I’ve no idea how true this is, but anything above this temperature and I like to imagine the growth!

  5. nancy marie allen says:

    Houseplants bring me such joy during the long winter months. Fussing, repotting, watering and generally caring for them is really indoor gardening which sustains me until outdoor planting can begin. I’m so looking forward to spring . . .

    1. Maybe that is the answer. I don’t know why, but I haven’t get got the houseplants bug. I expect I will at some stage – it is funny how you can go for years not being excited by a group of plants, and then one day you’re obsessed with them.
      Spring feels like a wonderful destination, doesn’t it? The Shang-ri-la of the gardening year!

  6. bcparkison says:

    Lucky you! The small cuttings look like promise Lord willing. I have the first daffs in a vase and the quince is trying to bloom.I’m more than ready for warmer temps even though our cold hasn’t bee too bad. After all it is Winter.

    1. I know, I sound spoilt complaining. And I do love that we have seasons. I know the experience of winter enhances my appreciation of spring.

      1. bcparkison says:

        There is areason for every season.

  7. You remind me of the late Elizabeth Lawrence! In her books, A SOUTHERN GARDEN and especially THROUGH THE GARDEN GATE, she talks about sharing cuttings and diggings from neighbors’ and friends’ gardens, even as far away from North Carolina as Mississippi and Illinois. And it just so happens that my blog this week will focus on Elizabeth Lawrence. Look for it Friday! ~ Jo

    1. Oh, I will! She sounds like my kind of person!

  8. Ann Mackay says:

    It’s exciting to see cuttings root and grow, especially if they’ve come from a friend. 🙂

    1. Yes, it feels like you are taking care of your friend by nurturing their cuttings!

  9. Oh winter can be hard work at times but it’s only a pause Ali. We’ll soon be off the starting blocks and bemoaning the fact that the days are not long enough. Plants and cuttings from friends are extra special 🙂

    1. Yes, that change of pace is incredible, isn’t it?

  10. Brian Skeys says:

    It is good to hear a positive story about the human race. Good luck with your cuttings.

    1. We need to remind ourselves of the positive human spirit, don’t we?

  11. Michelle says:

    This is one of the toughest times of the year to enjoy a season! (and the weather that comes with it!) These cuttings are so beautiful and refreshing. And I couldn’t agree more, human beings are most certainly generous and we sure do love sharing our blessings. 🙂

    1. And there are plenty of simple blessings to share! ❤️

  12. Chloris says:

    Lovely to have cuttings with memories of the donors. Winter goes on too long but February has its compensations. Lighter evenings, birds start to sing and so many buds and early blooms to enjoy. Snowdrops, aconites, hellebores and sweet smelling shrubs.

    1. Chloris, you are right! As soon as I had published this post, I went for a little wander around the garden, and it is all happening! Birdsong, buds, bulbs – hurrah! We have made it through!

  13. Cathy says:

    Oh I am so pleased the cuttings are giving you so much pleasure, Ali, especially as it seemed such a small gesture on my part. As others have said, the pleasure of new plants is enhanced when they come via friends. I have to admit to indulging my pleasure in seed sowing for the last few weeks and have sown yet another batch today – the magic never fails to thrill!

    1. That is wonderful to hear! I am always raring to go with the seed sowing. That first batch is pure magic, isn’t it? I am waiting for a sunny moment, so that I can really savour being in the greenhouse, amongst all its familiar smells. Joy, joy, joy…

      1. Cathy says:

        I start mine in the house, Ali, on a rack next to the Aga, then move them to the greenhouse as soon as they gave germinated – works well for me. A handful were started in Jan but there is quite a batch to sow in Feb. The cosmos were sown at the w/e

      2. Ooh lovely. I need to sit down with my seed packets and put them in sowing order!

      3. Cathy says:

        Starting them now means there is time for a second sowing if necessary or required too. As long as they are moved from the warm as soon as they have germinated they should be OK in a frost free greenhouse

  14. I completely agree about the second half of winter – it’s really hard to love it, especially if you are a gardener! Even houseplants go into dormancy in winter, albeit not as profoundly as outdoor plants. There’s just not much growing happening this time of year…

    1. And then, all of a sudden, just when you are giving up and ready to crawl into a corner, it all happens! The sun came out yesterday and made such a difference.

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