Recent posts on various and sundry garden and nature blogs about first snows, cloudy days, freezing rain and unspeakable cold are going to make our subtropical garden blogging friends think that they have the better end of the garden hoe, since they can still enjoy time in their gardens while some of us are stuck indoors, making fusses over African violets and other house plants.
But do they have it better than we temperate climate gardeners?
I don’t think so. They don’t have a very special garden season, the Dreaming Season.
For those of us gardening in more temperate climates, with the onset of winter, we are released temporarily from the daily upkeep of the garden and have a chance to sit back and reflect on our gardens.
We can close our eyes and imagine new flower beds and bigger, better vegetable gardens. We can plow through books and think about what our gardens will be like ‘next year’. We can rest, we can prepare, we now have time to pause and regroup.
We have time to dream.
The Dreaming Season is just beginning for us. And like any season of the garden year, we should make it the best ever. How to dream?
Catch up on reading all those garden magazines and books that have been stacking up all summer. Don’t just read the winter issues, which may indeed help right now with the winter garden, read the spring and summer issues to get ideas for next year.
Review your garden journal, if you kept one, or your summer garden blog posts, if you have a blog, and remind yourself what did well in your garden, what didn’t do so good, and what you wrote about that you wanted to change.
Go back through your favorite blogs to remember flowers you read about that you thought at the time you just had to have. Send an email to those gardeners, or leave a new comment, to get their thoughts on if they would grow that flower again. Ask them where they got their special flowers and if they have other flowers or plants they would recommend for you to try. They’d be delighted and would love to offer advice. If you don’t know where to start with all the blogs, go back through the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts for a particular month, and follow the comments back to those gardeners who you think had something in bloom that you wanted.
Take written notes as you read through magazines, books, garden journals, seed catalogs and old blog posts. Write down your plans and the lists of plants you want to find in the garden centers this coming spring. Plan your seed orders. Post on your blog about your plans and dreams for your garden. I find I’m more likely to follow through on a written plan and tend to forget vague ideas. And I am even more likely to follow through on a plan if I tell others that’s what I’m going to do.
Don’t forget about your real garden during this Dreaming Season. Weather permitting, walk around your garden. Make notes on changes you want to make. Without all the leaves on the deciduous trees and shrubs and the distraction of flowers blooming, you can better see the overall structure of the garden. You can “feel” the garden in the winter in a different way than in the spring, summer or even fall. While you are out there, you can also look for small issues, like rabbits eating on small shrubs, and take steps right then to keep those issues from becoming big problems in the spring.
Once the Dreaming Season is over, you’ll be ready to get out into the garden again, to start digging and planting and hoeing and pruning and watering all over again. And you’ll have a plan to follow to make your garden your best one yet, the garden of your dreams.