The Winter Wait

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”

Andrew Wyeth

It’s cold here in frozen Wisconsin — not sub-zero yet, but cold. I much prefer the warmer seasons in my beautiful state, but there’s something about the snow-covered ground that I like. Maybe it’s the reprieve of winter’s long nap–a quiet rest which requires little work from the gardener. Maybe it’s the thought about what lies beneath that crisp blanket of sparkly snow. As I view our gardens from the vantage of my second story windows, the snow looks like a pristine white quilt with meandering quilting stitches in the shape of the tiny paw prints of critters. I love to imagine the floral joy that will awaken from winter’s slumber when that blanket melts away and the ground warms to the longer hours of sunshine in a few short months.

First will come the demure crocuses with their grass-like leaves and dainty flowers of purple and white.

Before we know it, the daffodils and tulips will begin their colorful show. Snow will likely throw a light blanket over it all a few times, but the flowers will survive and stand resilient over the brief and momentary trial of life.

For now, I’ll take a little walk through the new fallen snow, breathe in some fresh air, and pop a letter into our mailbox in hopes of bringing a warm greeting on a chilly winter’s day to someone I love.


So that’s my Six on Saturday for this week (well, I did get a little carried away in my tulip and daff slideshow). If you’re experiencing the chill of winter like me, you can tour the gardens of others in warmer parts of the earth from the comfort of your favorite comfy chair by visiting the host of Six on Saturday, The Propagator, where you’ll find 6-photo garden tours, planting tips, and inspiration from gardeners worldwide.

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.

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.

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.

Six on Saturday: Goodbye August

While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down.

Honestly, the older I get the faster the calendar pages turn. I feel like I just said “hello” to August and now it’s nearly gone.

It’s been hot and dry lately. So dry that we’ve set out our sprinklers to give the thirsty lawn and gardens a little drink. We get a little tease of rain here and there, but it mostly just skirts around us. The last “almost rain” we got looked like it would be a doozy, but it was just a lot of wind and thunder, with narely a drop of rain. But, that weather front did push our hot weather out and paved the way for cooler, fall-like weather – perfect for cleaning out flowerbeds.

While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down. I could run around trying to get snapshots of some of the pretty stuff that’s hanging on for dear life, but thought I’d share a few of this season’s favorite garden helpers.

This gardening stool was on my Amazon giftlist. My daughter and family bought it for me as a Christmas gift. I love its simple design – sturdy and stable. It’s lightweight, yet durable. Depending upon which way you flip it, you can be seated at 9″, 12″ or 15″. Best of all, I can just hose it down to clean it up.

I think I probably use this little “Corona CT3740 eGrip Hoe/Cultivator” nearly every day during gardening season. It’s a great weed cultivator, hole digger, clod-breaker, furrow digger, can’t-do-without gardening hand tool. Hubby ordered it for me from Amazon, where you can purchase it for less than $12.

This repurposed mailbox helps me stay focused on gardening tasks in the backyard. With a fresh coat of paint and a just for fun bit of artsy embellishment (it was originally used as a prop for a skit), it houses a few handtools and a pair of gardening gloves. No more running to the garage, then being distracted by something else along my scatter-brained way.

Oh, and let me introduce you to the hardest working garden helper I have – my husband of 44 years, Wayne. Along with a never ending list of household projects, he’s been busy this summer ticking things off my garden to-do list, including replacing and leveling flagstones on my garden path.

Today’s project finds him busy cleaning a summer’s worth of cottonwood fluff and other plant debris and critter mess from our air-conditioning unit. Projects, to name just a few, have included rebuilding two of our raised garden beds, building birdhouses for me to paint, emptying and moving a compost bin, digging plants from here and moving them to there, and doing his level best to be a blessing to his wife. Seriously, what would I do without him?

Okay, room for one more “pretty” as my garden bids August adieu.

Pretty garden partners – Sedum ‘Maestro’ and good ol’ fashioned Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

There are my six, my gardening friends. Many thanks to The Propagator for hosting this weekly garden show ‘n tell.

Six on Saturday: Bees & Birdhouses

It’s the blue-skied, breezy sort of day that lures you outside to just sit a spell and enjoy summer’s final days. I’m sitting in a comfy chair on my backyard deck, enjoying the sights and sounds around me while I sip on a cup of coffee from a favorite mug and spend a little time reading my Bible.

In addition to all the usual weed pulling, deadheading, and watering, we’ve kept pretty busy this week. My hubby has been busy building birdhouses for our yard. He’s been using the lumber salvaged from our former deck in his creations. The birds don’t really care one little tweet if their new homes are decorated, but I have been enjoying getting a little artsy with painting and embellishing them. I’ve got a spot all picked out for the latest creation…a nice spot between two trees in the backyard. I’ll post a pic once it’s in place.

The latest creation needs to find a spot in our yard. The little brass bit around the entry is salvaged from a kitchen faucet we recently upgraded.

Yesterday my hubby and I went to a new eye doctor to have long overdue eye exams. Of course, COVID-19 precautions meant they are being extra careful, so we parked in a shady spot and checked-in for our appointments via phone from our car, then were instructed to wait in our car until someone came out to the car to ask the screening questions.

Waiting in the car for your eye appointment isn’t so bad. Especially if your waiting room looks like this…

Hubby’s eyes had only a minimal change since his appointment four years ago. I had been noticing changes in my distance vision since my last appointment three years ago. Things weren’t quite as crisp and sharp as they used to be. Sure enough, my eyesight had indeed changed significantly, so now I wait for new lenses for my glasses.

The sweet chair garden by my 3-season porch is filling in nicely with a little stand of phlox. You might recall that a few of my granddaughters painted this chair for me last summer. (You can read a little about this chair here too.)

Bees are happy I decided to plant a few zinnia seeds in two of our raised beds this year. I enjoy cutting the zinnias and love creating little bouquets to take to my friends at BeeHive Assisted Living and Memory Care.

I hope you enjoyed the mini six photo tour of my garden this week. Most Saturdays during gardening season I join up with blogging gardeners around the world for a virtual garden tour. Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a flower, a tree or bush, a favorite gardening tool recommendation, a gardening dilema, a cool bug or critter…anything at all. Our little show ‘n tell is hosted by The Propagator, who shares what’s going on in his amazing garden, then invites others to share as well. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on The Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore. I know he’d love to have you join in on the fun too.

Hello August!

One highlight of my Saturdays is joining up with blogging gardeners from all around the world for a virtual garden tour. This group called Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore. Without further ado, here are my six (okay, I know it’s Monday, but a couple of grandgirls were here visiting and grandkids trump gardening and blogging).

My sweet grandgirls – I mentioned last week that I was away from home visiting family. On one of the days (the hottest day) I took my granddaughters to nearby Illiniwek Forest Preserve and did a little impromptu photo shoot. What a lovely place.

Such a sweet time with my three lovely grandgirls

Phlox Cleanup Experiment – If you read my last gardening post, Tending the July Garden, you might recall that before I left on that trip I had tried a homemade concoction for cleaning powdery mildew off my garden phlox.

Powdery Mildew Concoction:
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Liquid Soap (I used organic Seventh Generation)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Gallon Water

I also promised I would let you know how it worked.

In this photo you can see the before and after. Pretty dramatic. Not perfect, but I was pretty impressed.

Well… here’s how it looks a week later.

I’m pretty bummed. I think I’m on the right track though. The concoction works well, but I may have been a bit too aggressive in my cleaning and managed to bruise the leaves. I will back off on the liquid soap the next time, as I think it probably disturbs the protective coating of the leaves…maybe just a couple drops. I also think it will work better if I use it when I first notice powdery mildew.

‘Tie Dye’ – On a happier and more beautiful note, my hibiscus ‘Tie Dye’ is still busy producing stunning flowers in my front yard. (And Japanese beetles are still trying their hardest to devour them.) I showed you a closeup last week, but here’s a step back to show you it in scale relative to my front porch.

Daylily season is (sadly) coming to an end, but some of my late bloomers are still putting on a pretty good show. My husband and I enjoy this little deckside patch of daylilies while we enjoy our evening meal.

Annual Regret – It’s this time of year when I lament not having planted more flowers which would provide color through the fall months. I do have zinnia, petunias, cosmos, hydrangea, and a few other late summer bloomers trying to keep the show going. Joe Pye Weed and a native aster are also doing their thing right now keeping the bees buzzing and butterflies happily flitting about.

‘Mighty Chestnut’ is one of my late blooming daylilies which provides a punch of late summer magnificence. It’s a heavy bloomer – so many scapes and SO many flowers. When it is finished blooming, I hope I will remember to take a division or two from it and get it going elsewhere.

Let me end this week’s six photo tour with this thought:

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it is our garden that is really nurturing us.”

Jenny Uglow

Tending the July Garden

The philosopher who said that work well done never needs doing over never tended a garden. 
- Ray D. Everson

I’m away from home for a few days and envisioning weeds taking over my garden as I type and Japanese beetles treating my beautiful flowers as a sumptuous buffet.

Lily ‘Stargazer’

But time with my family trumps gardening. The garden can wait.

Right now my garden is awash in a rainbow of color. The peak of daylily season in my garden will inevitably begin to wane in the next week or two.

TOPGUNS ‘Mandarin M’elange’

A supporting actress has made its dramatic entrance in this week’s garden show: the beautiful balloon flower. The photo below captures several stages of its fascinating growth. First is the tight little pentagon-shaped bud. Then, almost overnight it seems to ‘inflate’ looking much like a balloon. As its petals unfurl, the blue-violet color begins to emerge and deepen. Then comes what I call the ‘fairy ballgown stage’ when the petals flare slightly open. Once fully open, the flower transforms into a sweetly upturned bell.

Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower)

Rose mallow (hibiscus) ‘Tie Dye’ is loaded with buds this year and should provide a punch of lovely pink until autumn. Though planted by the house, these beauties garner attention from passersby. It’s a bit of a challenge keeping Japanese beetles from munching on them, but I am keeping ahead of them so far.

Rose mallow (hibiscus) ‘Tie Dye’

Last week I mentioned my problem with powdery mildew and asked for your advice. One reader suggested washing with baking soda and water, so I mixed up this concoction and gave it a whirl on my favorite phlox, ‘Glamour Girl.’
Mix together:
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Liquid Soap (I used organic Seventh Generation)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Gallon Water

Here’s a before and after – pretty dramatic cleanup, I would say. We’ll see if it works. I will give an update in a future post.

Before and After

Well, that’s my little garden tour for this Saturday. If you’d like to tour a few more gardens, check out Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. Just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read; then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find links to a variety of gardens to explore. Have fun!