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.

Tiptoe through my tulips

Another week of Spring. Daffodils are waning and tulips are still in various stages of loveliness.

Photo credit: Wayne L. Winquist
Tulipa ‘Merry Go Round’ was planted in 2014, but disappeared after blooming the first year or two. I’m happy to see this little survivor making a return. Bonus: there are multiple flowers on each plant.
I love these double, late-flowering tulips. There was supposed to be a mixture of purple, pink and white – but only these two purple ones thus far.
A newer tulip in my garden – ‘Spring Green’. It is a Viridiflora tulip with lily-like petals with a pretty green central vein. You can see I’m also losing a battle with the nemesis of my garden – an invasive creeping bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides.

If I ever need to plant a tree – I would most definitely consider planting another beautiful Star Magnolia. The flowers don’t last nearly long enough, but the tree is gorgeous and trouble-free. We have lost nearly all of the trees planted by the original landscapers back in the 1980’s (spruce, ash, birch, honey locust, flowering crab, etc.), but the magnolias continue to faithfully strut their stuff every year. I love the double skirt of petals on this one.

Magnolia ‘Royal Star’ (I think)
Photo credit: Wayne L. Winquist

Well that’s my “Six on Saturday” – thanks for joining me on a little photographic jaunt around my yard. And a special thanks to “The Propagator” for hosting “Six on Saturday” each week. If you check out his “comments” section, you can visit a whole bunch of lovely gardens, gather ideas and suggestions for your own, or have a go at posting your own six.

Six on Saturday: My Favorite Gardening Reads

A deep blanket of snow is covering my garden right now. Of this I am glad. As much as I long for warm Spring weather and the accompanying tulips and daffodils, I really want my gardens to be protected by a thick blanket of snow for as long as this crazy on-again, off-again cold weather lingers. Rather than show you pictures of snow, snow, and more snow, I thought I’d follow the lead of one of my favorite gardening bloggers and share some of my favorite garden-related books. (You can read Carolee’s inspiring post on her blog Herbal Blessings here.)


If I have to pick a favorite, it would undoubtedly be Creating a Perennial Garden in the Midwest by Joan Severa. I read it nearly every winter gathering ideas, hopes and dreams for the garden sleeping beneath the snow in my own little corner of the world.

Joan Severa passed away in 2015, but I was blessed to meet her in the days before I began caring for my mother. Back then, before momma’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, I actually had time to attend an evening garden club meeting that met in my neighborhood. One sultry summer evening our garden club members got together for a little neighborhood walking tour of area gardens. Joan’s garden was one of them. I was so delighted to learn that she lived within walking distance of my own home and garden. It was a “two-fer” tour, as she and her next door neighbor and best friend Chris had seamlessly merged their adjoining gardens into one lovely gardenscape. It was so very inspiring.

Back to my favorite gardening book. It’s my personal favorite because Joan shared things I need to know as I garden not only in this USDA Zone 4 Midwest area, but in this very neighborhood. Lovely photos of her own garden compelled me to keep turning pages, and her engaging writing style made me feel much like we were sitting on a porch overlooking her backyard paradise whilst we sipped tall glasses of ice tea. Joan’s engaging writing included suggestions for how to choose and create a garden site, plants that do well around here, how to care for said plants, step-by-step instructions for the best way to create and use mulch…and most importantly, for me, what plants to avoid. The book is filled with photographs too. Absolutely LOVE it!

My second favorite? A Gardener’s Journal, a 5-year garden record book. I’m the author of this book as I make notes of how my own garden is doing in a given week, what I planted, what came up (and what didn’t), when certain bugs appeared (and how I tried to get rid of them). I also note ideas for next year and jot down the names of plants on my ‘wish-list’ (just in case someone wants to buy me a present). Here is a peek at one page in my journal.

Favorite #3 – Further Along the Garden Path, by Ann Lovejoy. My friend Judy gave me this classic book out of her own garden library. As I page through this beautiful book and guide to the gardening year, the amazing photos taken by Mark Lovejoy actually remind me of Judy’s garden paths which meander through her mostly wooded landscape. A lovely surprise awaits around each and every turn in the path.

When I moved from Milwaukee to Fitchburg in the summer of 1999, I left behind my own beautiful garden. Even though I had dug up divisions of various perennials to plant in my new garden, I didn’t get the diggings planted soon enough and lost many of my Milwaukee garden treasures during that brutally hot summer. Judy generously shared pieces of her Verona garden with me, helping me create new gardens in my new gardening space. I think of her with love and gratitude whenever I read this book or see a flower that she shared with me.

I have spent hours browsing through this little book, filling my mind with landscape plans and ideas for my gardens. Beds & Borders contains 40 professional landscaping designs. You can use the sketches and plant lists as a do-it-yourself guide to creating your own oasis of floral loveliness, or you can order blueprints of your favorite designs to hand off to a professional landscape artist. In addition to too many hours of gardening daydreams within, novice and expert gardeners will find the book to be filled with oodles of gardening tips and design techniques.

And one more pleasurable read. An Island Garden, by Celia Thaxter with pictures and illustrations by Childe Hassam.

Beautiful. Enchanting. Educational. It’s the inspiring story of her Appledore island garden, written in vivid detail, every word a delight to the senses.

If you love gardens as much as I do, you simply must find a copy of An Island Garden. Once you have the book in hand, clear your schedule, make yourself a cup of tea and find a cozy spot near a window – preferably one which overlooks one of your snow-covered gardens. As you read, I promise you will be transported to Celia’s island garden, hear the crash of the waves, smell the sweet aroma of carefully tended blossoms, gaze in wonder at the sight of magnificent old-fashioned hollyhocks swaying in the warm ocean breeze, and hear the sweet song of nesting birds.

Whenever I read this book, I feel as though I’m kneeling in the dirt right next to Celia helping her tend her beautiful garden while she mentors me in tending my own little patch of this earth.


It’s a bit warmer today and the snow is beginning to melt. I think I even heard a robin singing, but the closest I’m going to get to gardening this week is filling the bird feeders for our hungry squirrels. I will probably get my gardening fix by paging through the gardening catalogs which seem to be arriving daily or re-reading one of my favorite books. Of course, there’s always visiting all of the other Sixes, courtesy of our meme host The Propagator at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Signing off to dream of daffodils and tulips.