News & Events

Desperately Seeking Sunshine

Boronia crenulata ‘Shark Bay’…An Australian native that is never out of bloom.

I don’t feel old, and I’m not, really, ( figure I have a little less than half my life ahead.)  The thing is, I have noticed I get into an old person funk during January and February.  I sulk and grumble when I never use to, especially when the sun’s not shining. No doubt that’s why some older folks make the winter exodus to warmer and sunnier climates. They are seeking optimism, the kind that plentiful sunshine allows.

But self-pity is unbecoming…and I’m a take action kind of gal. I know the best remedy is to get out and absorb some sunlight when the winter skies allow. Today the sun is bright, and the reflection off the pre-New Year’s Eve snowfall made my eyes squint. It’s 15 degrees F outside, so perhaps I won’t plan a long walk, maybe just once around the garden, and then into the greenhouse where we overwinter all of our tender plants.

Ahhh…the the luxury of a winter greenhouse. We keep a 100′ poly house heated to 50 degrees at night, and in it are stored all of our tender succulents and stock plants. Mostly, plants are in a semi dormant state, and are not very pretty, waiting for longer days to spur growth. The greenhouse is packed to the brim. Each time I walk in, I feel the promise of spring, plus a few midwinter surprises: plants (often from the southern hemisphere) that choose to bloom in January and February.  The little Boronia above is in bloom. Here is what else presently greets me.

Mimulus sp. from Western Hills…blooms all year!

We still have this Mimulus selection brought back from the now closed Western Hills Nursery in CA. It blooms on new growth all year round, but can be a little temperamental if kept too wet or too dry. It also ships poorly, so if you ever want one,  come visit us at  the nursery.

A lovely Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) whose name is “?”

Anyone know the name of this orchid?

Rhipsalis capilliformis, funky and fun, soon to be in bloom

 You gotta grow everything to really appreciate funky plants like this Rhipsalis. Specifically bought one of those face pots where this can be planted as the wig, come spring.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (now luciae) erupting into flower.

All the succulents that we buy as little plants take on larger proportions with age. This Paddle Plant erupts into bloom in winter.

Our office needed a replacement plant for the window sill, so I brought in this BeschnorneriaBechnorneria are commonly called False Agave, and are hardy to about 15-20 degrees. We bought this unspecified selection from Cistus Nursery a good 6-7 years ago , and at last it has bloomed. It’s a shorter form with narrow tubular pink/red/green blooms.

Beschnorneria sp. from Cistus Nursery years ago, finally in bloom.

We’re not open for visits during the winter months.  Perhaps there is a little greenhouse operation near where you live, or one kept open at your local public garden. Plan a winter visit to support them, and get your sunshine fix. Your purchases and membership dues help pay the heating bills, and they offer you a retreat when you can’t make it to a southern climate.


  1. Lovely post, I almost feel like I accompanied you on the trek to the greenhouse and appreciate your gentle nudge to get out and enjoy a nursery/greenhouse/garden visit. I will do so soon (and often). Also, for what it’s worth I too feel the curmudgeon start to come out this time of the year….

    • Thanks, Loree.

  2. Hello, I particularly enjoy the pun “Avant Garden” and having read your thoughts on winter blahs ….. I always think that Winter is sent only to enhance the joy of Spring. I love to go out in the cold only so that I may return to the cozy warmth of my home. A lovely cup of cappuccino sans the bite of dark chocolat as I am sure that the slow poisonous effect of sugar is hugely contributive to the dulled senses which seem to worsen with the post holiday let-down which always ultimately follow holiday celebrations. I have found that quilting and knitting help me distract myself from my shiny new LG refrigerator!! Florida, FA!! That’s for old folks!!



  3. Yes, there is nothing like the fresh warmth of a sun filled greenhouse in Jan.!
    Especially after one has watered everything…That’s the best!
    I love the Rhipsalis, the flowers have a delicate scent too.

  4. Seren, it is true. Spring is all the sweeter after our winter spells. I am grateful that this morning the sun is shining bright, the temp is in the 30’s and I walked about in the garden in just a sweatshirt…and didn’t once think how cold I was. Your mention of taking up your knitting, made me think I ought to finish the hat I began last winter.

  5. Crystal, I’ll have to use my nose the next time I walk past the Rhipsalis. Its little glassine white blossoms just opened this morning.

  6. I stand about all my plants wintering over and have such similar thoughts ! I whisper to them that the days are getting longer, as if they do not know themselves. Thanks for the sunshine reminder. Much needed.

  7. so lovely to see pink and red and burgundy and mauve and orange and pink in January. Thank you for the break from beige and grey and brown and dirty white. xo a

  8. Thanks Alyn. Color Tonic, I call it.


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