winter gardening

Happy 2016

Took a tour of the gardens today, just to see if this mild weather yielded any surprises.  I keep waiting for the hellebores, and was really hoping for that surprise.


The greens are looking good, but no blooms yet.  That’s good.  I will wait until Easter and take another garden walk!  Hopefully they will be sporting more color then – guess they call it Lenten Rose for a very good reason!


The cockleburs are very abundant in one neglected corner of the yard.  I can’t remember what the blooms looked like, but I think they were purple.  The seed pockets are very interesting, and very sticky.  Glad that most are too tall to be attached to Willis as he runs past.

Just as I was about to give up, I couldn’t believe what I saw just under the deck.


Little viola volunteers!  What a really lovely surprise.

I hope your new year is full of wonder and surprise!  Happy 2016!


Extending the growing season

I’ve been toying with the idea of building a cold frame.  There are lots of articles out there that speak of using a cold frame to extend the growing season, but most are used in vegetable gardens.  I tried a vegetable garden once . . . the local rabbits thoroughly enjoyed it!

I want to use a cold frame for my flowers, to help seedlings acclimate in the early spring, and to protect corms and bulbs, as well as my crocks, in the winter.  I also have some daylily plants that I’d like to separate and start in the frame for next year.

I don’t recall ever seeing my dad using a cold frame, so I’m a little concerned that perhaps our winters in Pittsburgh aren’t the right climate for their use.  But I’ll give it a try. (I just called my  mom to find out if Dad had ever used a cold frame.  Of course he did!  I don’t remember because I was very young when he had one.  He tried EVERYTHING!  He grew vegetables, and had lots of success extending the growing season here in the Burgh!)

Size does seem to matter, from what I’m reading.  I’ll need to be able to lift the lid, prop the lid, and be able to reach inside from outside the frame.

Location is another consideration.  I need to figure out what part of the yard receives a substantial amount of sun in the winter.  Not many places to choose from!  I’m considering the small plot between the composter and the shed.  This plot faces west, but my cold frame should optimally face south.  So I may need to move the composter because I think it currently lives in the very best location for the cold frame, facing southwest.

We have an old toss off storm door that has been residing in the shed for a few years.  I’m terrible about tossing things, and always knew there would be a use for this door.  It’s kind of heavy, but the full-length window from the door should be just the right size.  Ha!


My mom’s neighbor has some pavers that she’s trying to get rid of.  I’ll take a ride over there this weekend and see about taking a few off of her hands.  These pavers will be used to create the base for my cold frame.

photo credit:

The wooden frame can be constructed out of some lumber I can get at Home Depot.  (Do I hear another reason why I should purchase a table saw?)  The frame itself should be taller in the back than in the front, to allow the rain to drain off and so the snow does not accumulate on it.

Snow – ugh – I really hope there’s not much of it this year.