The Start of a New Year (Subtitle: Snow!)

Greetings, gardening friends! I hope your holidays were full of family and fun and all the traditions you enjoy.

IMG_0545Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and now Twelfth Night have all come and gone since my last post. It was a busy season here. After all, like my blog title says, I’ve got no fairies helping me out! Our December in central Indiana was colder than usual. At least, it was colder than last December, and certainly put our new triple-paned windows to the test. They held up well, keeping us warm and toasty and halting the chilling drafts we were so accustomed to feeling around the windows. Still, our heating bill was up over last year, we hope due to the colder temperatures.

Just as the December freeze began to set in, I managed to get a bale of straw spread over the strawberry patch and unplanted perennials still in pots, which I pushed up against the western wall of the house. To ward off some of the severe rabbit predation my yard experiences every year, I succeeded at installing temporary fencing around the recently planted blackberry shrub and a volunteer red maple seedling I plan to nurse into sapling-hood, as well as around the unplanted miniature roses still in their pots. Those little buggers (the rabbits, I mean) really go to town on my plantings. For example, at the base of every purpleleaf sand cherry (prunus x cistena), I commonly find a scattering of twigs bitten clean off, and the burning bushes (euonymus alatus) already sport gouges and teeth marks in the trunks where the rodents (or as I understand is more accurate, the lagomorphs) have gnawed during the famine times of winter. I will wait and see if I have to replace the one baby burning bush I planted last year. It’s being ravaged pretty badly, and I’m out of fencing to put around it.

Today, we are just coming out of a drastic weather phenomenon that hit a large portion of the U.S. during the first week of January. The scientists called it a polar vortex, but we called it Snowmageddon.IMG_0504 Central Indiana isn’t known for heavy annual snowfall or extreme low temperatures, but this year so far, we’ve experienced both. My area received around 14 inches of snow all on one very white Sunday, which was on top of about 3 or 4 inches we already had on the ground. Big, wet gobs fell all day long. Then high winds hit, along with once-in-a-century-type temperatures that dipped to double digits below zero. And the wind chill felt colder than that! For more than 48 hours, the populace was advised to stay off the streets and hole up in their homes. Schools were closed, offices shut down, church services cancelled. I baked loaves and loaves of French bread and a gingerbread cake, as well as roasted a chicken and a butternut squash, which I had cubed along with an onion and some garlic. Hey, all that cooking kept the house warm and cozy!
Now that that’s all over and the routines are back, the long, dreary winter months stretch ahead. But that’s OK. I’ve got quite an imagination about what my garden will look like come May. I can hardly wait. Meanwhile,  below is a photo of what things look like now. Enjoy your spring garden dreams, everyone!