Winter Gatherings


Thursday morning it was 0 degrees F. The last 2 days it has made it into the 20’s…there is a dusting of white stuff on parts of the garden, and it does glisten in the early morning light, adding icy pastel tones. Still, I can’t help but become impatient with this cold snap. This is the time period when sourcing local material for Slow Flower Arrangements gets limiting. The garden is offering less and less, except for the last of the red twig dogwoods, the holly fruits, and of course, the various evergreens. I wanted to create an arrangement to honor January….but didn’t want it to sing Merry Christmas.

Perhaps there would be botanical wonders in the woods behind our house…lime green mosses, perhaps, or some other little bits of color which would nod to early winter, yet offer interest and promise. Too cold to unearth moss though; silly me, it all was frozen solid to whatever surface it clung too. There were, however, fallen branches everywhere covered with lichen, in lovely colors of an almost iridescent silver green, and also another form we call Old Man’s Beard in pale sage…color shades I always return to…cool, tranquil, mysterious.

There were some “freeze-dried” mushrooms attached to some logs which I pried loose, and of course pine cones dotted the woodland floor. I gathered what I could and returned to my workspace. At first I thought I might try a faux bois style centerpiece, but then I spied the planter bowl I had bartered succulents for with a ceramicist I knew. Lovely bowl…interesting botanical artifacts….I had enough to create something pleasing to look at.


8 thoughts on “Winter Gatherings”

  1. I love this picture of the beauty that we can find this time of year. I collect things from every walk this time of year and then try to arrange it indoors. This beautiful bowl is perfect with the colorful offerings of the woods.

  2. Charming arrangement. So the “ruffles” are part of the bowl? Nifty! Who’s the clever ceramicist?

    I’ve given up here, am only nursing my handful of patio pots and a couple of clivia indoors. Yet another attempt to winter over kaffir lime has acquired scale in my sunniest window. It made it through two winters in my less sunny window at the other end of the house. I cannot figure out the scale jinx in the sunnier location.

    But I do still have your wonderful variegated cornus ‘Silver & Gold’ jammed into my patio pots, providing a glimmer of light and hope through the windows into the living and dining rooms. I should have transplanted them a couple of years ago; they’re seriously pot-bound now, but I can’t do without their wonderful color on our many gray winter days. I am still grateful to you for your long distance consultation on how many to buy as we prepared for a wedding.

  3. Sharon, the talented ceramicist is Meaghan Gates, who was furthering her studies of ceramics at UMASS Dartmouth. She has a blog, and a Facebook page.
    The short days (meaning less light) have an effect on our indoor plants, and in many cases our goal should be to just keep them alive until daylight and warmth increases. Even in our greenhouse which we keep at 50F, are lackluster right now. I was hoping to cut a bouquet from my Abutilon and some southern hemisphere plants that want to bloom in winter, but even they were being stingy with color. On the other hand our succulent collection is looking good. Glad ‘Silver and Gold’ has been such a durable plant for you!

  4. Hi Katherine,
    I live near your nursery, so have had the same weather. My garden does look pretty dreary so I really wish it was pleasant enough outside to go out and cut back some of the ratty-looking perennials. The heather looks great, though, and is still in bloom and the hellebores were flowering too, though the night of 0 degrees killed the open buds. I’ve also been enjoying my bamboo and broom for their textures and notes of green and yellow.

  5. Hi Kathy,

    Beautiful job! I love how the starkness of winter makes us better appreciate the beauty of the most simple things in nature. I look forward to seeing your creations each month.

  6. Happy New Year, Karen! I came across a book the other day that was required reading for one of my art history classes, ‘Learning to Look’. I remembered one of it’s lessons: Be innocent, observe as though you were looking at something for the first time. We are often too attached to our preconceived notions.

  7. Nice display. I especially love that container with the ruffled bottom.
    Am reading Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin. Some small succulents would be lovely in that container. Thanks for sharing.

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