Seven ways to smile through winter

Forcing lily of the valley is a great way to smile through winter.

It’s only mid-January, and I’ve reached winter’s crying time.

After the recent ice storm, I feel almost as frozen as this holly. We'll both thaw out in time.
After the recent ice storm, I feel almost as frozen as this holly. We’ll both thaw out in time.

You think I’m being overly dramatic? I’m not. Usually, I reach this stage mid-February right after Valentine’s Day, but crying time came early this year.

Ice storms are beautiful, but hard on plants and people.
Ice storms are beautiful, but hard on plants and people. I don’t mind snow as much.

In one week, Oklahoma had a snowstorm, an ice storm and copious rain.

Don’t panic. I’m not really crying. I am a bit lethargic and misty-eyed in winter’s aftermath. So, this morning, I took myself in hand, sat down with a cup of tea and a breakfast bar, and considered ways to smile through winter.

More of Mother Nature's icy grip.
More of Mother Nature’s icy grip.

After 54 years of circling the sun, I know myself pretty well. First, I thought about why I’m in such a funk. Oh yeah, my entire family was sick for weeks during and after the holidays. Between the cold virus, bronchitis and the norovirus, my poor family was down for the count. It reminded me of the years when I spent all my time doing laundry and pouring cold medicines down everyone’s throats. I am grateful I did not catch the norovirus. You just don’t know how grateful.

In the meantime, my exercise routine fell off, and I haven’t been outside nearly enough. I also went to see the movie, Jackie, yesterday in the rain no less. No wonder I’m feeling crotchety.

Time to make some changes. Here’s my seven-point plan

  1. Keep eating healthy as much as possible. With May and Megan’s wedding looming ever closer, I need to look my best for those important photos. Plus, it’s good to be healthy, and I’m not getting any younger. Blah, blah, blah.
  2. Exercise three to four times a week. Grant permission not to kill myself either. My exercise has been pretty bad for the last couple of weeks, and it shows in how my clothes fit. However, I have a tendency to punish myself when I relapse from the treadmill. That just makes me sore, and then I don’t exercise in a vicious circle. Remember that I’m also trying to stay strong for spring and garden season along with a daylily tour here in June.
  3. Read more books and stay off the internet as much as possible. I have a new reading challenge on Goodreads. There are now studies showing our brains work differently because of our social media addiction. I know I get a dopamine rush when my phone bings. So, more books and less online time unless I’m working on an article or post.
  4. Have more indoor plants. I’m thrilled my bulbs are starting to grow and bloom. It makes winter seem less formidable. Also, I’m going to spend more time in my greenhouse. I’ve neglected it this year because we had a disaster early on. I need to get out there and cut back the dead limbs on some of my citrus burned by cold weather. The door blew open, and I haven’t had the heart to repair the damage indoors.
  5. Use my NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp when I’m reading for thirty minutes a day. I need to remember to use this because I have one, and it works.
  6. Keep doing videos. I like live video and my channel on YouTube. I don’t do many gardening videos this time of year because there’s not much gardening to do, but I enjoy making unboxing videos and such.
  7. Garden when and where I can. As I wrote above, so far this month, we’ve had a snowstorm, an ice storm and copious amounts of rain, but in between, we’ve also had wonderful weather. I need to get out there and cut back the perennial grasses. Since we finally got some cold weather making the roses dormant, I’ll also prune them.

These are my seven ways to smile through winter. What are yours?

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, January

Hyacinths in a vintage blue forcing bowl. This is one of my favorites. I'm impatient for the hyacinths to bloom.

The only things blooming at RDR in January are those in my indoor garden: amaryllis, hyacinths, daffodils and lily of the valley, to name a few. This living menagerie is enough to get me through winter. As I wrote last week, blooming plants beat the winter blues. I started forcing hyacinths and milder scented paperwhites in September and October, the date dependent upon whether I wanted them for Christmas flowers or after. I try to time them for a continuous indoor garden from November through March. I also scour local nurseries and stores for other blooms too. The photo, above, although not blooming, is one of my favorites because there is so much promise of good things to come.

Hyacinths are starting to peek out from behind their leaves. Some won't bloom all the way in spite of my chilling period.
Hyacinths are starting to peek out from behind their leaves. Some won’t bloom all the way in spite of my chilling period.

The hyacinths are just starting to peek out from behind their leaves with a few flowers opening. Before long, every room in the house will have a hyacinth or two. I never know how well they will bloom. It’s all about that cold period and timing. I will say this–I think that next year I will do the cold period on vase again. I think that worked better than throwing the bag into the refrigerator and only placing them on vase later. You can see how I forced bulbs in previous years by clicking on the link. I’m not sure there’s a foolproof way to do it, but that’s part of the charm. My climate is so variable that I can’t simply stick my bulbs up in my attic. I never know what winter will bring in Oklahoma. September through December was pretty warm. It’s been cooler in January, but we’ve also had warm days. Like life, gardening is sometimes complicated.

The lily of the valley is much more bloom out than it was in last week's post.
The lily of the valley is much more bloom out than it was in last week’s post.

This year and last I even bought lily of the valley pips from White Flower Farm. They’re pricey, but I need those little bells, and oh, that fragrance! It’s priceless.

Bouquet of Gerbera daisies, stock and mums.
Bouquet of Gerbera daisies, stock and mums.

Then, there are the bouquets I buy here and there. This week I went to Whole Foods and bought several small bouquets to make one large one of screaming color. It was therapeutic to put together and made me feel like winter is nearly over. Two more months, and it will be. In the meantime, I’ll satisfy my flower addiction every other week or so. It’s about the same price as that coffee people wait in line for everyday.

Closeup of the same bouquet.
Closeup of the same bouquet.

If I drink coffee, I drink it at home for pennies on the dollar. I can’t grow flowers right now. I rest my case.

I chose stock in two colors for their fragrance. I love old-fashioned, scented flowers. What are flowers without scent? Boring. Still, try to keep your flowers to one major scent group at a time. Otherwise, you might be overwhelmed.

This is the only bloom I've gotten so far on 'Erlicheer' narcissus. I don't know why, but my paperwhites weren't that good this year.
This is the only bloom I’ve gotten so far on ‘Erlicheer’ narcissus. I don’t know why, but my paperwhites and other narcissus weren’t that good this year.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t have good luck with my paperwhites and other narcissus this year. ‘Inbal’ performed well, but the others, not so much. I got a lot of greenery and very few blooms. This is aggravating. If anyone has an idea, please let me know.

A special thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for all these months/years of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Head over to her blog and see what others are growing in this cold, cold month. Happy Bloom Day!