Smiling through winter, an update

My hyacinths on the windowsill bring me happiness and joy.

After last week’s post, I implemented my seven ways to smile through winter plan. This quiet season covers at least five months of the year in Oklahoma so smiling through winter is vital. Like Demeter, we gardeners pine for Persephone until she returns from Hades, and green shoots push forth from the earth once again.

A yellow kalanchoe brightens my day as I sit on the sofa and read.
A yellow kalanchoe brightens my day as I sit on the sofa and read.

How did I implement my plan? First, I went to three four local stores–TLC Nursery, Whole Foods, Lowe’s and Under the Sun–and bought four or five six or seven indoor plants including a variegated airplane plant. The 1970s are alive and well my friends.

The airplane/spider plant is in the greenhouse video below. Consider it horticultural retail therapy.

New rugs for the living room and two orchids help too. I move the plants in and out of the windows so that they get light. You can't treat a plant like a piece of furniture.
New rugs for the living room and two orchids help too. I move the plants in and out of the windows so that they get light. You can’t treat a plant like a piece of furniture. It will die.

I returned home and transferred said plants into beautiful pots. Beautiful containers and sparkling glass do a lot to help improve a supermarket plant.

Beautiful containers and sparkling clean glass do a lot to improve a supermarket plant. Click To TweetI always keep decorative containers on hand, and I collect blue and white porcelain including the flow blue platters on the mantel, above. Beautiful containers and sparkling clean glass do a lot to improve a supermarket plant.

Joanna Gaines of Magnolia Market and Fixer Upper fame would agree. If you notice on the show, she cuts a lot twigs and branches and places them in glass vases. She even had cottonwood leaves in last night’s show! I followed her lead with this cotton boll arrangement in my dining room. That reminds me–I think I’ll grow cotton next year. Bustani Plant Farm carries an ornamental pink cotton.

Cotton bolls in a crystal vase ala Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper. These remind me of stark winter.
Cotton bolls in a crystal vase a la Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper. Looking at my Oklahoma sign in this photo reminds me I want to hang it above the china cabinet and retire that iron display rack for awhile.

I placed plants in spots where I could see them while I write, read books, clean house, etc. They, along with my forced bulbs, are in every window in my house. If you’d like to see more pictures of my indoor plants follow me on Instagram. I usually post once a day.

Click on the images in the gallery, below, to make them larger and see the captions.

I then decided to go outside and face my greenhouse. I haven’t written much about the greenhouse this winter because we had quite the early season disaster. My greenhouse is composed of wood and three-ply poly, so it swells and contracts depending upon the humidity. We’ve been very dry. Oklahoma is in a drought again. Of course, it is.

A huge cold front came through in December while we were away, and my son went out to check on things. God bless him for caring. If you don’t slam the greenhouse door hard enough, it can pop open especially when the air is very dry, The wind from the front nearly whipped the door off its hinges. We came home to the greenhouse standing wide open in 18-degree F. weather. Everything inside got either nipped by the cold wind, or frozen depending upon where items were inside. It was a scientific experiment in microclimates, and as in our gardens sometimes, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the freezing. I lost several plants, and Mother Nature painfully pruned others. I’m grateful I put the coleus cuttings at the back of the greenhouse. They weren’t killed. However, my beautiful ‘Republic of Texas’ orange tree was so injured I lost half of it, the rest of the citrus were also burned, except surprisingly a kumquat on an elevated surface. The heater nearby must have kept that one warm enough.

To say I was sad about all of this would be an understatement. I was heartbroken, and after that first evaluation, I didn’t go outside and assess the damage again. I couldn’t face it, so Bill went out every couple of days and watered giving me reports. The orange tree already had ripening oranges on it when the storm hit. My beautiful dark red mandevilla died too. Maybe I can find a replacement at Under the Sun this spring. They carry the Sun Parasols® brand. Mine was a trial plant I’d overwintered twice. It was quite large.

After the post last week, I decided to go out and see what I could salvage. I took clippers in hand and began trimming away the orange tree’s dead limbs. The live video from Facebook, above, shows the results. Don’t you love how videos always catch you at your worst when they stop? Half the tree is gone, but of course, after I pruned the damaged bits, it began to perk up. I also took off the remaining oranges which did ripen but were also pithy from the freeze. As for the other trees, we’ll see if they put on a crop from their damaged blooms. It’s been warm enough this week I set the greenhouse top to open because nearby honeybees love to pollinate the citrus. One lesson I learned is there’s still a lot of good left in my greenhouse.

One lesson I learned is there's still a lot of good left in my greenhouse. Click To Tweet

The same is true about our world. You find truth in whatever you focus upon, good or bad. I choose to stand in the light.

I bought seeds this week. Because we’re having the regional daylily tour in June, I won’t plant the large vegetable/cutting garden this year. It’s too much to care for it, travel, have a wedding, get two children graduated, etc. I just can’t do it all. But, I wanted to show you these seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Company. I love their art packs. They are so beautiful. I bought their calendar too. It’s comprised of the art from the seed packets.

I’ve also kept doing videos for my YouTube channel, and as I wrote above, this is a live video on Facebook. I also read two books last week. If you’d like to know what I’m reading, follow me on Goodreads. I started a bullet journal. I’ll write a post about it another time.

I stepped up my exercise too. Thank goodness! I’m walking most days, but I also contacted a friend who is a trainer and asked her to create a weight training plan for me. I have osteopenia, and I definitely don’t want osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise is all important.

That’s what I’ve done so far. What are you doing to improve your winter days?

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?