Because we are warm, we garden year round in the Puget Sound basin despite the fact that we are farther north than many cities in the frozen interior of the country. First let me assure you that it does snow here. When it snows, everything shuts down until the stuff melts in two or three hours. We do have winter storms that coat our trees in ice and bring down the power lines. We comment on these freaks of nature because they are freaks.
Currently, it is December third. I have dahlias and roses blooming. We had a bit of frost a week or so ago, but it wasn’t severe enough at my house to freeze the dahlias or roses. We are expecting an ice storm but it may pass us by. My primroses are getting ready to bloom. Many people plant pansies for winter color. I prefer primroses. I have an apricot abutilon outside the living room window that is covered in flowers. On the north side of the house I have enough blooming fuchsias to satisfy our hummingbirds. I plan to go out and harvest for bouquets soon. I would take flowers to the Farmers Market if I were not so busy with other projects.
The down side of the winter garden is that I had to fill the slug traps last week because I found slugs in the kale. Hubby mowed the lawn two weeks ago and it really needs it again. He will need to mow before Christmas. Not only does the grass grow all winter, the weeds love the cool damp weather. Dandelions send their taproots deep into the garden beds while their leaves soak up as much sun as we have. The invasive buttercup invades. I suspect that pests are hibernating comfortably under my fruit trees.
I’m still planting bulbs for spring. Every day I hope to get the last of them into the ground. Perhaps they multiply in the garage where I store them. I don’t seem to be getting to the last bulb. Bulb planting is slow because I weed as I go. I can plant bulbs up until New Years and still have them bloom. After New Years, they might not get enough days of cold in order to bloom.
My neighbors plant their pea seeds in September and get a head start on pea season. I’ve tried fall planting peas but the poor plants get a fungus or mold and wither away.
How much we garden in the winter is subject to microclimates. Storms that come out of the north often don’t come as far south as my garden but may hit friend’s garden four miles up the road. My daughter’s garden is closer to the water than either my friend or myself. She may be out digging in the dirt when we are snowed in. (Snowed-in means I have two inches of very wet snow.)
I am thankful for my temperate garden. I do love flowers and gardening. Still, if the weeds are not to completely control the gardens, I must be out in forty-degree weather digging the things. On the other hand, my winter bouquets are the most beautiful bouquets of the year. I am blessed to live on my island in the middle of the Puget Sound.