I don’t know how you feel about winter, but if you’ve read RDR in the last eight years, you know it’s not my favorite season. That’s an understatement. Oklahoma skies are gray and bleak throughout January and February, which can give a red dirt girl the winter blues. I see more rain and snow forecast for today and tomorrow. Whoopee. I’m glad we’re getting rain, and I know the garden needs its rest, but those gray skies can sure bring me down.
Here’s the good news. We’re seventeen days past the winter solstice, so our days are already growing longer. The bad news? January and February in Oklahoma aren’t much fun, and we only have St. Valentine’s Day to distract us. I have some ideas to help gardeners get through the rest of winter.
Gardeners also need flowers, and blooming plants beat the winter blues. We don’t just quit loving our gardens in winter even though we realize everyone needs a rest. We need plants and their gentle rhythms in winter too. If you’re having a bad day, take a handful of potting soil and sniff it. It might help you find yourself again.
If you’re lucky, you have an entire greenhouse of green growing plants, but if not, you can still grow a lot indoors. I’m not terribly excited about the tropicals we see in every store this time of years unless they’re in terrariums, so I focus upon winter bloomers. From lily of the valley to hyacinths forced on hyacinth vases and in pots, my house is decorated everywhere with these early signs of spring.
My living room, called a great room in log cabin lingo, is quite large, 18 x 36 feet. That’s why I can force so many hyacinths at once. I realize the scent gets to other people, but it isn’t very strong in here. I also keep the house quite cool so blooms will continue as long as possible.
I have one amaryllis that never broke dormancy. I’ve never had that happen, and I’m bit irritated by the recalcitrant bulb. I put it next to ‘Red Pearl.’ Maybe that will embarrass it into performing. Maybe not.
The closet is still full of hyacinth vases so I have a long way to go. I’ll also head out to the grocery store and see if I find any other plants blooming. Locally, Whole Foods has a lot to choose from. Buying a few orchids or other plants is a lot cheaper than therapy.
Don’t forget to buy yourself a bouquet of cut flowers too. If you can find some that are American Grown, so much the better. On these cloudy days, I find I need a bouquet now and again. These roses my daughter bought for my mother’s birthday dinner were so beautiful they took my breath away.
The Christmas lights have come and gone so it’s good to look at something beautiful. What are your strategies to beat the winter blues? Flowers are mine.
When it comes to decorating for Advent and Christmas, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I live in a log cabin, which just begs for natural decorations and flowers forced inside. I’m also a garden writer, so, in winter, I surround myself with green and growing plants.
Otherwise, I might lose my ever-loving mind.
This year my mantel sports bottlebrush trees and silver platters along with small silver bowls and a simple green wreath. I’m also growing paperwhites and amaryllis. I planted white and green amaryllis to extend them after the holiday and into the new year.
On the other hand, I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s so I’m a fanatic for all things shiny and glittery. I even like those aluminum trees, but they don’t fit my house. If I had a mid-century modern home, you could bet I’d have one in one of the rooms.
I favor over-the-top Christmas decor, like vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, tinsel and sequined poinsettia branches placed on the limbs of the tree. White lights give it all a warm and cozy glow.
About that tinsel–my kids hate tinsel. They say it’s messy.
I say, “And, your point is?” After all, I’m the one who cleans it up.
What’s a red dirt girl with schizophrenic Christmas tastes to do? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I mix my natural decor with the glittery bits. I find inspiration for natural Christmas decorating from Scandinavian, Norwegian and Dutch Pinterest boards and blogs. Several of my own boards, including Christmas Flowers, Christmas Tablescapes, White Christmas and Log Cabin Christmas, reflect their style. My other Christmas boards are more sparkly.
Some of my favorite blogs that embrace my natural side are Garden Flow, Claus Dalby and Viebeke Design. Luckily, my glass ornaments work well with Polish and German blown glass ornaments. This year, my favorite blogs’ influences show in the red and white color scheme I have. I told my daughter, Megan, that I’m channeling Swedish and Norwegian Christmases. She said, “But, we’re not Swedish.”
Again, I ask, and her point is?
These same adult children told me yesterday they wouldn’t have Santa Claus for their children because he isn’t “real.” At that point, Bill looked them in the eye and said that Santa still visits Grandpa’s house, so they can get gifts from him here. The girls then laughed because none of our children even have children yet. The funny things your adult children say.
Isn’t Christmas about dreams and great love? The coming of the Christ Child certainly is. Surely a little dreaming and extravagance is also called for when celebrating such an overwhelming gift. That’s what I ponder as I hang another glass ornament on the tree. No, my tree isn’t Nordic–they are very simple and beautiful in their simplicity–but it is very, very pretty and makes me smile. Since I work from home, this is a very good thing.
I collect vintage Shiny Brite ornaments that I mix with other family favorites. My husband teases me saying I have a Shiny Brite addiction. Now that my kids are mostly grown, I can indulge my Christmas decorating fantasies. Little fingers and glass ornaments do not mix. Some years I do red and gold ornaments, but other Christmases, I might do something more 1960s. This year, as I wrote above, I’m focusing on Nordic style, and I’m enjoying it the most. I pull out old items from the attic and the bedrooms, and I take a long time to decorate, partly because we also celebrate Advent. I wait awhile to pull out the tree, and then keep it up until Epiphany unless I can’t stand the clutter. Most of the decor is red and white including the wrapping paper. The 1960s side of me added a bit of blue and hot pink to the mix too.
Red looks great in a log cabin, and since we already have some red accents in the great room, it was easy to add to more for Christmas.
I pulled out old silver platters for our fireplace mantel along with bottle trees in green, white and pink. To keep the bottle trees from getting smashed in their boxes, I wrap them in tissue paper each year. Since two of our kids have moved out, I have room in one of the bedroom closets for our more delicate things. That way, the heat of the attic doesn’t melt them.
Once Christmas is over, I’ll pull down most of the red and decorate the mantel with green, silver and white. I’ll add my hyacinths and paperwhites, and things will be clean for the new year. I know it’s a bit over the top, but I love Christmas.
What decorations are precious to you and your family? How do you celebrate the holidays?