Monday, December 21, 2020

The First Day of Winter

Today is the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. Winter weather arrived at my house even sooner, however, when a snowstorm blanketed the Northeast last Thursday. We had less snow than expected although at eight inches deep it was more than the total that fell all of last winter. On days like that I am grateful for a warm house and a fireplace. I relish staying indoors, appreciating that I don't have to move the snow -- thanks to my husband, Duane, and his snow blower and a neighbor with his snowplow.  I finished decorating for Christmas, forced some amaryllis bulbs, and watched backyard birds through the garden-room window.  

Further north saw much more snow, but this was enough for me.

I scaled down the amount of holiday decorations as the family wont be coming this year due to the pandemic. In the den, I adorned the mantle with a bit of green and red; I put up the Christmas tree. This is only the second year we haven't had a fresh tree, but our cute, skinny, artificial one is so much less work and takes up less space. 

The wooden cardinal bird was made by a family member as a wedding favor. Lovely memories.

More memories on the tree. It may be artificial, but every ornament has a meaning. We brought some with us when we emigrated from England over forty years ago.   

 In the garden room I made a little vignette, incorporating a poinsettia.

 I love poinsettias for their cheery red color. I placed another one in the dining room....

Sparkly deer, a music box, and a poinsettia on the dining table.

For several years Duane collected little schoolhouses that light up. We always display them with some of his model cars and other 'toys.' Jon puts the array together; he does a great job.

The Queen leads the parade in the village of schoolhouses

Carol, at May Dreams Gardens always quotes Elizabeth Lawrence, 'We can have flowers every month of the year.' I missed Carol's GBBD post this month, but the quote applies here. To ensure that I have blooms in midwinter, I force some amaryllis bulbs. This year, I purchases two online from White Flower Farm. In fact I bought kits comprising the bulbs, glass containers, and pebbles. (Yes, it's true that bulbs do not need soil to grow.) I assembled everything on the dining table.

River rock with Amaryllis 'Barbados' and glass-like  stones for Amaryllis 'Aphrodite'

The first step is to cut off all the dried, dead-looking roots - leaving any white ones.

Place approximately four inches of 'rocks' in the bottom of the container.

It was obvious that White Flower Farm did not include enough pebbles in the kits. I had a bag of river rock in the potting shed, but needed to send Duane to the Dollar Store for more of the glass-like ones. Thank you, Duane. The bulb is then covered except for the top third.

The next step was to add water to the container. The level of the water should not be higher than about one inch below the bulb to prevent rotting. Finally, I placed the containers in a sunny window. I turn them regularly so that the stems grow up straight.

Today, both bulbs have healthy green shoots.


Watching the birds at the feeder and at the heated water dish is another favorite snowy-day activity of mine.

Top: Male Northern Cardinal,
Bottom: Female Northern Cardinal
Top: Black-capped chickadee. Bottom: American goldfinch

Top: House wren. Bottom: White-breasted nuthatch

Whatever the holiday you are celebrating, I wish all of you peace and happiness, dear gardening friends. Stay safe!


Pamela x


I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 

I look forward to visiting your blog in return.