Winter Ahead

A night well below freezing last week zapped the remaining perennials here in North Georgia and got me thinking about the season ahead of us. Just as my thoughts at night wander to plans for the upcoming day, the end of fall leads to the anticipation of the next season.

frosty leaves

Penstemon leaves sprinkled with frost


It is a time of rest for the plants and for the gardener. I will throw my garden gloves in the washer, stack up the pots in the garage and put up my feet while I enjoy a cup of hot tea. Yet ….

Even as I rest in the calm cool days, I can’t help but think about how I could add some blazing star (Liatris spp.) to that sunny bed to complement the goldenrod (Solidago) already there. I must put that on my shopping list for the spring native plant sales. I could thin out the Coreopsis there and pot it up to donate to the spring plant sale. I should also pick up some more grasses (I’m thinking little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium) and a clump of 3 would look perfect just off the driveway if the area were just a little bit sunnier.

So my shopping list grows and I build a list of things to do on the occasional nice day before spring (note to self: limb up young oak tree by driveway to allow more sun in that area). In addition to potting up the extra Coreopsis, the native rose that I planted several years ago is too big for its location. I will pot that up and donate it as well.

Yes, now that I have time to think, the list of problems to solve and the opportunities to add new things fills up quickly. A stroll around the yard (yeah, it warmed up a bit) jogs my memory even more and I pledge to reinforce the fence around some of the native azaleas to protect them from the deer. And I could be working on building an insect hotel.

frosty flower

Frost dusts a last bloom of Malvaviscus; it was mush within an hour of this photo.


Cold temps are back! I hibernate inside again. Time to research plants, annotate my lists, and plan, plan, plan.



The shortest and coldest of days will also be a perfect time to read the books that I didn’t have time for during the gardening season. How about American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow? It was just published this spring and has gotten very good reviews. And I shall pick up where I left off in the very excellent book about Georgia plant communities, The Natural Communities of Georgia.

These activities will keep me occupied for a few months. That’s all I need. By mid-January there will be a few signs of the emerging spring and I’ll be outside again, happily watching it unfold, one tender leaf at a time. In the meantime, I’ll make the most of this down time while I can.

And for a brief moment after the frost we have flowers worthy of UGA fans – black and red!

UGA flowers

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  1. Marilyn says

    Love the link to the beautifully executed insect home. Good idea!

    In a post from last year, Pat Sutton suggested hanging wren roosting baskets to provide shelter from the cold winter nights (See “Carolina Wrens in the Garden). I hung two baskets on the deck, then ordered a boat-load more to give as Christmas gifts. I’ll be adding a couple the the hawthorn bush where we have also seen wrens. Pat also suggests leaving up the outdoor hanging baskets year around since they, too, can provide shelter from cold winter nights.

    Also enjoyed your most recent personal blog about utilizing the front yard, although it did remind me of one of my dreaded fall/winter tasks—getting rid of some of that English Ivy out front. I had wondered about removing the ivy covering over an old bed during this season since I worried about what might be sheltering under it for the winter. Carole Savilla Brown wisely suggested I might remove only a portion of it, leaving the rest of the job for spring. That way, I can at least make a start on getting the bed ready for spring while leaving any critters undisturbed.

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