A winter garden is a subtle thing. There is a spare architecture of bare branches and geometric shapes. Rose bushes show their thorns on greenish stems. Brown sticks thrust upwards from a hydrangea's base, pale against the green cedar hedge. Bright emerald moss covers large patches of brown dirt. Now, in January, in our coastal climate, sharp, pointed leaves of bulbs planted months ago thrust their way upwards. A short excursion around the garden late in the afternoon revealed all kinds of growing things. Snowdrops, the first flowers, are so very welcome in the grey days.
A small anemone flower forms in a pot where anemones settled on their own last year and seem to like it there, so they can stay.
Tiny furled blueberry leaves make me smile, and remind me that it's high time to get out there and prune a few things. A week or so ago I finally moved the peonies I'd planned to relocate last fall, and was thwarted by the incessant rain. I don't know how well they will do, but I did notice tiny red points among the tubers which I promptly covered up, but not too deeply.
The lemon tree is tightly covered and a string of old fashioned Christmas lights winds through its little branches to keep it warm throughout the winter. On cold mornings we see the glow of the lights, attached to a thermostat, and know the temperature is near freezing. Yesterday, I peeked underneath the covering and reached in to pick these bright, little lemons. How good they smell! As well, there are small green fruits forming for summer picking. Lemon trees are amazing things - they can have flowers and fruit at the same time, and are self-pollinating under their winter covering. A little microcosm of the life cycle under wraps.
This lemon tree is our second, as we uncovered the first one too early in the spring and a cold snap took it away. We won't uncover this one until May.
I read about this book on a blog (I don't remember which one), and added it to my list of want-to-reads. It wasn't available in the library, so I checked Russell Books, our local re-seller, and discovered they had a hardcover version in stock for a very reasonable five dollars.
Daniel Blajan features his garden and the creatures that live there. He's not a life-long gardener; the book was written after five years of moving from the city to the country. Detailed observation of his own garden combines with whimsy, dry humor, and a sense of awe to make for a delightful book to dip in and out of on grey January days. I'm including a small excerpt for you to enjoy:
"It was not yet dark, but the sun had already set and it was one of those rare, serene nights when you feel you could almost catch the light and hold it in your hand like a shimmering violet treasure. A perfect night for the flowers to dance...in the still of the night, the flowers of the evening primroses were coming to life. The pale yellow petals were unfolding one by one, flower after flower, like the wings of butterflies. They were unfolding at such speed that they caused the stems - yes, the whole plants - to tremble and quiver like a troupe of nervous ballerinas ready to jump on stage."