Winter Wanderings

Did you make a New Year resolution?

I confess I’m not very good at keeping resolutions. I severely lack in stick-to-itiveness with long-term goals. Achieving a short-term goal, I reason within myself, and practicing it over and over again just might become a long-term habit.

Well, that’s my theory anyway, and the premise for my decision about creating monthly goals in five areas of my life: Spiritual, Exercise, Ministry, Healthy Eating, and Personal Habits.

I’ve decided to share one of my exercise goals for January with you, my gardening friends at Six on Saturday. For most of my year, I count gardening as my main form of exercise. Since there isn’t a whole lot to do in my Wisconsin garden, I created this exercise goal for the winter month of January, and will revisit it in February to see if it needs tweaking. Here it is:

Baby steps toward jogging again by spring: Time spent outdoors DAILY, even if it’s just a walk around the block or a trek to fill the birdfeeders. On warmer days, try to make a loop around the park.

Cindie’s exercise goal for January 2021

I’m only nine days in on this goal, but am happy to say that I’ve been able to stick to it so far. I’ve taken a few photos of my daily treks and will share these in lieu of too many shots of my snow-covered garden.

The entrance to a lovely park with paved walkways (mostly free of snow and ice) is within a few steps of my front-door. The park is truly a “happy place” for me. There is so much to see and enjoy if I walk there with my eyes and heart open.

God bless the person who decided we all needed a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree to enjoy. I loved spying this red ornament someone had placed in a young pine tree.

My hubby and I like to create birdhouses (he builds and I paint). We added a second birdhouse to our little avian neighborhood, which you can see in the photo on the right (the other birdhouse is its backdoor neighbor). The volunteer tree we cut down is trying its darndest to keep growing–which creates a leafy cover for the birds, which I know makes them happy.

A tree stump in my front yard boasts this interesting snow-dusted fungi.

A garden neighboring the park entrance has a few of these bushes. I’m not an expert at identifying trees and bushes, but this one is easy.

It’s a burning bush (Euonymus alatus), easily identified by its unique, deeply furrowed branches. It boasts stunning red foliage in the fall, reminding many of the biblical account of Moses and the burning bush. Alas, this beautiful bush is also on our state’s list of invasive and restricted plants. We had several planted in our backyard at one time, but none of them have survived. We planted some lilacs in their place.

As I look forward to the heavenly aroma of those lilacs of mine blooming in Spring, I will try to keep you posted on my winter wanderings.

Quiet Beauty

My garden has taken on its quiet winter beauty.

A frost-covered clematis vine and its trellis make for a different kind of beauty in my curbside mailbox garden.

I left a little bit of my Joe Pye Weed for winter interest. I love how it’s wearing a gorgeous frosty coat. Folklore says that Joe Pye Weed was once used as a medicinal cure for fevers. As much as I love its winter beauty, I’m already looking forward to summer’s purple flowers and the bees which will undoubtedly visit.

A few summers ago this chair was a roadside treasure that my daughter rescued from someone’s curb. My granddaughters gave it a fresh coat of paint and gave it a few sweet embellishments like this adorable butterfly. This is one of several chairs I have in the garden which serves both as whimsical art and support for lanky flowers.

Covered in tiny ice crystals, I thought this dried hydrangea blossom looked like a crown of crystalline beauty.

An old mailbox took on new life as a tiny shed for a set of garden handtools that I keep in the backyard. Perched on a new post, all it took was a coat of purple paint and embellishing with acrylic paint and clear-coat. The purple chair (also painted by my grandgirls) and purple mailbox are pictured here keeping a winter vigil over a daylily and iris flowerbed.

Well, that’s it for my little wintery #SixOnSaturday thing for this week! (Yes, I’m late again!) Thank you to Jon the Propagator for hosting this fun little weekly photo sharing gathering of gardeners around the world. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

Winter Wonderland

We have a saying here in Wisconsin.

“If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”

Five minutes may be an exaggeration, but not by much. Here are a few photos I captured on a little walk in my neighborhood park on Thursday. [I blogged about that little excursion here.]

Thursday was a sweatshirt or jean jacket sort of day with walkers, runners, joggers, and pet-walkers streaming past our home on their way to or from McKee Farms Park. We Fitchburgians all had one thought in common: enjoy this gorgeous weather now because we’re going to be shoveling snow tomorrow.

The sun hid its face on Friday morning and the temps had dropped to the 30’s. When I looked out my window in the afternoon, it seemed like someone just shook my backyard snow globe and giant snowflakes were falling willy-nilly. The snow wasn’t sticking much, but our crabapple tree looked like it had been decorated for Christmas with a dozen or more red cardinals looking like feathered ornaments, along with a few crazy robins who perhaps didn’t receive the migration memo.

But here’s what we woke up to in our backyard this morning.

It’s beautiful.

That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing for this week! Thank you to Jon the Propagator for hosting this fun little weekly photo sharing gathering of gardeners around the world. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

Vacation Garden Hopping

Long after the colorful petals have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the beauty yet to be.

Barefoot Lily Lady

My hubby knows that one of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to stop and stroll through various public gardens. On this late October trip, we knew the gardens would likely be past their prime. That’s okay though, for long after the colorful petals on flowers have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the promise of beauty yet to be.

Thankfully, as we pointed our car toward our destination of visiting good friends in Louisiana, with each mile we seemed to leave the cold Wisconsin weather in our wake. I’m so grateful my hubby didn’t feel the need to conquer the road; instead, veered off the interstate on several occasions so we could take the scenic route. How delightful to see lovely autumn flowers still graced the roadside, spilled from pots in public places, and dotted the flowerbeds of fellow gardeners along these back roads.

We did a little road trip antique-ing too. We certainly don’t need more “stuff”, but enjoy little stretch breaks. With both of us being on the plus side of 60, it was easy to find memories of our own childhoods tucked in amongst vintage stuff in the nooks and crannies of the antique malls. Wayne even found a bit of nostalgia from his years as a signalman in the Navy back in the early 70’s.


Our first overnight stop was at Benton Park Inn, a quaint B&B in a historic section of St. Louis. Benton Park was right across the street from from the B&B — a lovely park with paved pathways meandering throughout its acreage. It was the perfect place for us to stretch our legs after our day of driving. We were also within easy walking distance of Frazer’s, an excellent restaurant our gracious host had suggested. The meal was super delicious and the shared piece of key lime pie made me wish I had ordered my own slice. We enjoyed both the inn and the restaurant so much that we returned a second time to both establishments on our trip homeward two weeks later.

Stop #2 on our journey south would be Memphis, Tennessee. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel (excellent!), enjoyed Corky’s Memphis style BBQ (oh, my, YUM!), and then walked the nearby Memphis Botanic Garden. With 96 beautiful acres, there was much to explore. My favorite discovery was a very aptly named plant known as Cat’s Whiskers.

Intriguing ‘Cat’s Whiskers’ (Orthosiphon aristatus) at Memphis Botanic Garden

Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) is a herbaceous perennial and member of the mint family that blooms all summer long in the south. It reminds me a little bit of Spider Flower (Cleome), which I am able to grow in Wisconsin. Cleome is more orb shaped and has spidery looking stamen, while Cat’s Whisker’s snowy white stamens look very much like the namesake feline whiskers. You can see it growing here and there everywhere in Tennessee and Louisiana — it flourishes in full sun, but seems to appreciate a bit of afternoon shade. I should have brought home some seed, as I think it would grow as an annual in pots in my growing zone.

With every place that I roam, flowers lure me to explore the intricate beauty of God’s creation just a little bit more closely. His handiwork is clearly seen in the minute details of earth’s splendor.

Clover in the Lawn: From Friend to Weed to Friend Again! — Laidback Gardener

Who remembers laying on their belly running your fingers through the grass in search of a four leaf clover? I do. My dad had the nicest, best kept lawn in the neighborhood. I scarcely remember when the clover disappeared from it, but it probably left once dad hired a company to come in a few times a year to do several “lawn applications” to keep his grass green. This article builds a case for not being so uptight about white clover. Hmmmm…I wonder if the bunnies would eat fewer of my flowers if they had more clover to munch on?

How did such a wonderful plant as clover come to be considered a weed? Photo: life.shared.com Here’s a quick overview of the incredible story of a simple little plant, white clover (Trifolium repens), and how it went from being the best friend a lawn ever had to being considered a noxious and despised weed to […]

via Clover in the Lawn: From Friend to Weed to Friend Again! — Laidback Gardener

Vintage Settings of Silver

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)

I have always loved that verse. It taught me that my choice of words and how I deliver the words I speak matters. If carefully crafted, our communication becomes a thing of beauty. Well chosen words have the power to lift people up, bring comfort and encouragement, and remind the hearer that they are loved and special. When I hear myself being critical, or my words come out snippy, I need to take myself back to the biblical principles of communication and ask God to reset my attitude and help me communicate in a gracious manner – help me frame my words in Christ-like beauty.

Something I did this week reminded me of that verse. Let me share it with you, my friends.

I spent the better part of a day giving my little 3-season porch a good end of summer cleaning — everything from the dirt on the floor to the cobwebs on the ceiling got a bit of long overdue attention. My hubby even got involved by dealing with some big Rubbermaid bins filled with treasures he had brought home from his beloved aunt’s home. Wayne carried the bins to the garage, where he took a bit of time to sort through the contents–loads of fascinating treasures in there. Each bin was chock-full of memorabilia related to the pet shop Aunt Vera owned in her younger days. This memorabilia has fueled a passion in Wayne’s heart to blog about this very special aunt’s life. We love to visit with sweet Vera and listen to her reminisces and testimonies of God’s faithfulness throughout her life. Many difficult things have happened to her in the past, but Vera’s words are always beautiful and forgiving, apples of gold in settings of silver.

While hubby worked in the garage, I worked up a sweat on the porch. I cleaned windows, vacuumed the rug, mopped the floor, dusted and tidied. As I diligently worked, I kept picking up the same small box and moving it here to dust, and there to vacuum, then back again. The simple cardboard box with its flaps turned inward was filled with various tarnished silver pieces my thoughtful daughter had purchased for me at our local thrift store. She knew I liked to create little succulent arrangements in them, so snagged a few sugar and creamers, a baby cup, a compote (or candy dish), and a teapot. I’ve had it on my to-do list to create those arrangements all summer, so decided it was finally time to stop moving the box around and just get to it.

I harvested a few hen and chicks from my front flower beds, and immediately thought of the lovely lady named Carleigh who had given them to me. I love having plants in my garden rooted in friendship.

Next, I plunged my gloved fingertips into the soil and pulled up a little plug of a beautiful chartreuse Angelina stonecrop.

I took my garden’s little offerings to the garage where I had already filled my silver vessels with a mixture of soil and sand. I pushed the roots of my tiny plants into the soil, sprinkled a little pea gravel around them, and gave each a little drizzle of water.

A vintage silver pedestaled compote serves up succulent beauty
No need to polish the silver – the tarnish gives off an antique, faded glory vibe.
A few of my succulents in settings of silver.

Now we wait. They’re beautiful already, but when they start pushing out growth, they’ll be gorgeous.


That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing! Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a favorite flower, a beautiful tree or bush, a perplexing garden dilema, your amazing success (or pitiful failure) at growing food…anything garden-related thing at all. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

Oh! Almost forgot! Here’s my number six. Just for fun.

A succulent’s setting need not be silver…a little child’s outgrown watering can will do just fine. All six of my grandchildren carried this little watering can around at one time or another. Sweet memories.

The Magic of Marigolds

Marigold, both the double African and the double French. These flowers always give me a pricking of the conscience, for during the summer, when there are plenty of others, I give them the “go by,” but in October turn to them with shame and thankfulness.”

Helena Rutherfurd Ely, ‘A Woman’s Hardy Garden’ (1903)

A stroll through my September garden does not delight the senses in the same way as the garden in July. While most plants have quite given up the thought of pushing out more flowers, there are a few which are just now coming into their glory. Perhaps they’ve been blooming for quite awhile, but are just now being noticed and appreciated because their showy garden partners have now exited the stage.

I’ve never thought much of marigolds. They need to be deadheaded quite often, which I don’t enjoy because it makes my fingers smell marigold-y for quite some time. It’s a spicy fragrance, but not one that I enjoy much. But there is something quite beautiful about the flower.

When I choose annuals in the spring, I rarely tuck marigolds into the flat. If I’m going to purchase annuals to nestle in amongst my perennial favorites, I’m going to opt for petunias, zinnias or snapdragons. But this year, a few marigolds managed to find their way into my shopping cart.

The bunnies thought they were delicious.

I managed to put a little wire fence around the one plant that remained, thereby rescuing it from becoming bunny fodder.

And I’m so glad it survived. It you come visit me, you’ll find this signet marigold thriving in a flowerbed right next to my front porch.

In looking around at my September garden, I have decided I need to plant a few more marigolds next year so that I will have another month or two of color to enjoy. I decided to try harvesting seeds from my lone marigold plant. I pulled off about a dozen dried flowers and went to town.

It’s really easy to harvest marigold seeds; here’s a little video that demonstrates how to do it.

Do you think this will be enough seeds?

Rain, rain, go away

It’s Saturday and time for my little Six on Saturday garden tour.

I’m almost embarassed by the title I chose for my blog today, as I know full well that there are areas of my country which desperately need the rain. I can only offer my prayers as some battle the devastation of brush fires. I wish I could send the rainclouds in their direction. It has been raining since Sunday – at times very heavy rain, now just a mist.

There was a tiny reprieve from rain this afternoon, so I went out snapped a few photos of my somewhat soggy plants before the rain started up again. As I stepped out of my front door, this beautiful zinnia was the first to greet my senses. The pot of zinnias has grown scraggly and leggy, but the rain refreshed things enough that if I just show you the tops you’ll be none the wiser as to true neglect of watering.

A beautiful orange zinnia just outside my front door

A squirrel apparently thought the garden needed a sunflower planted in an adjacent flowerbed which is nestled up to my front porch. It’s only about 4′ tall and just as cute as can be.

Just underneath the sunflower and next to a few marigolds, I have a little group of gazania planted. Rabbits had given it a crewcut earlier in the summer, but it has recovered and is just gorgeous. I understand that gazania is also called ‘Treasure Flower’ in some parts of the country. I can see why.

Gazania

A little later in the afternoon I decided I needed another break, so ventured outside once again. Still misting a bit, but pleasant enough to go barefoot and work for just a bit. I donned my gardening apron, grabbed my garden stool and an empty bin, then sidled up to a spent and mildewed peony and started cutting it back. It felt good to accomplish a task on my very long list.

I’ve got a little stand of Chelone (turtlehead) ‘Hot Lips’ growing in my front yard. It’s an amazing pink, and I had so hoped it would be prettier this year, but I must be doing something wrong. Does it need to be fed? Thinned? In a shadier spot? I don’t know, but I noticed a hummingbird in this photo which doesn’t seem to care that the flowers aren’t perfect.

See the little hummer in the photo on the left?

A couple of years ago we had a neighbor who left a couple hundred dollars worth of plants in the driveway, just languishing unattended in their pots all summer. One day in late summer we were chatting and I made a polite inquiry about the plants. She told me to take them and that if I could do anything with them, she’d be so happy. Apparently she was going through a divorce and just didn’t get around to planting them. Most of it was pitched into the compost bin, but I planted a sedum which looked to be only “mostly dead” (a nod to ‘Princess Bride’). Well, sedum ‘Maestro’ now flourishes in my sunny front flowerbed and is one of the most popular bee magnets that I have. I’ve even been able to take a division off of it to plant near the mailbox.

Sedum ‘Maestro’ and its happy buzz of bees

As I headed back indoors after my little garden photo shoot, I was momentarily waylaid by this sweet miniature rose in one of the pots on my front porch. Beautiful!

My hubby is peering out of our kitchen window and just exclaimed, “Whoa! There’s a bright light in the sky!” We haven’t seen much of that bright light in the past week, so I think I’ll go outside and slosh around in the sunshine.

Thanks for visiting my soggy, but beautiful, little slice of earth. Have a great weekend, my friends!


That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing! Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a flower, a beautiful tree, garden friend or pest, your bountiful (or pitiful) harvest…anything at all. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.