are you ready for winter?

Better say “yes”, because here it comes…ready or not.

winter scene

This was the scene that greeted us this morning. It was 17 degrees (on the porch, mind you). In 2008 we had a nice insulating blanket of snow before the temperature plunged. We lost some things, but not so many as last year, when the hard freeze came on bare ground. This mere dusting of snow will probably do us very little good.

carpenteria californica

Hence my recent decision to ignore the common advice about fall being the ideal time to plant. The things I put in the ground in early spring have more than doubled in size, so my hope is that they will have a bit of an edge against the blast of cold. This Carpenteria Californica ‘Elizabeth’ is marginally hardy here.

‘Elizabeth’ wrapped

So she got some special treatment: a winter coat of poly wrapped around a tomato cage.

Rhododendron sinograde

While we were at it, a frame got built around Rhododendron sinograde. It, too, was then wrapped in plastic, but before we put the lid on, we stuffed it with leaves. Fingers crossed: I would really hate to lose this beauty.

ceanothus x ‘Blue Jeans’

But the Ceanothus x ‘Blue Jeans’ that replaced C. impressus ‘Vandehburg’ after Van bit the dust will just have to man up and rely on a summer’s worth of root system to see it through.

phygelius et al

Forewarned, a few days ago we moved all of the pots onto the deck. They are grouped as close as possible to the house to take advantage of any escaping heat, but that 17 degree reading is not encouraging.

other pots

Even if we lose some plants, the pots will escape the damage that comes from repeated icing up and thawing. Too many terra cotta pots have been reduced to shards of their former selves by such treatment.


Meanwhile, what better excuse to cozy up with a fire and a good book? I met a friend at Ristretto and she brought me a bouquet of these berried branches. I stopped by Ink & Peat next door to see if they could be identified. Ilex, she said…but that hardly narrows it down enough for the likes of us. Deciduous, obviously, but what about those sherbet-colored berries? If you have any ideas, please tell. Anyhow,
while at I&P I bought the little Swedish wooden sparrow ornament to hang in the branches. It is helping me get in the mood for winter.

8 thoughts on “are you ready for winter?

  1. I’m glad to hear you say you’ve sworn off the fall planting mania. I’ve reached the same conclusion, it just doesn’t make sense.

    Thanks for the reminder to head to Ink & Peat someday soon. It’s been to long since I’ve stopped in there to poke around.

  2. Okay, I won’t complain now about my mornings that are now dropping into the high 40s, but for a wimp like me it’ll be tough. I hope the carpenteria makes it. Mine finally started growing again a month or two ago, and I’d hate to deprive it of a full winter’s growth. I hope you get loads of white flowers from a plant thanking you for how well you’ve taken care of it.

  3. Ricki.I lost so many plants last year from late planting…Learned my lesson. I’ve replanted all the plants I lost, in the spring this time. If they perish I’ll move South!

  4. Loree~Fall planting might have made sense before we began to have Arctic winters…no more. When visiting Ink & Peat, why not drop by next door for a Ristretto latte?

    James~And early this morning the porch thermometer registered 12! Feel better?

  5. Ricki – It’s so hard to know which cultivar of winterberry branches you have but I’d say it’s definitely some type of Ilex verticillata. They’re known for their colorful berries – some more red and others more orange. Wish I could be of more help. Enjoy them and Happy Thanksgiving.

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