Looking outside this morning I see gray skies and a snowy landscape; my husband after stepping outdoors reports a temperature of 21F. Same as for the whole month so far: we've had snow on the ground since the end of January and the temperature has been below freezing most of that time too. Probably it doesn't sound like much if you live in Michigan, but folks, this is Zone 8. Of course, we didn't get the huge snowfalls that hurled much of the eastern half of Italy into chaos: five feet, even ten feet of snow, with schools closed, trains canceled, trucks barred from the interstate (and blocking all the side roads), roof beams collapsing, livestock without feed, water pipes frozen, electricity out. We just got the skirts of the snowfall, perhaps a foot and a half all together, and the temperatures here very likely haven't fallen below 20F, while down in town in the valley bottom it's been 8-10 degrees colder. Cold descends.
We've been lucky, and, well supplied with firewood, water, and food, we've stayed comfortable. Local government has done a good job keeping the roads plowed, and the middle school our daughter attends didn't miss a day.
But I'm really missing the sight of bare ground. I haven't been able to see the garden for two weeks, and I'm developing withdrawal symptoms. I understand better now northern gardeners' passionate wintertime perusal of nursery catalogs. The exciting news is that this cold is going to end this coming week: by Thursday the low should be not much below freezing, and the high in the forties. Oh boy oh boy oh boy, but it just makes me more impatient. I'm dying for a view of wet dark ground, bare canes, the leaves of the earliest bulbs. The garden will even be well watered, at last, after the winter-long drought. The worst of the winter darkness past; the first spring woodland flowers less than a month away.
The "February Fantasy" is the rose order I've been researching and where in the garden the roses will go. I have places for them. The big slide has a double line of roses on its eastern border (just outside the slide itself, I mean), and I can continue that line all the way down to the bottom of the slide area. Roses like this area, improbably as the soil doesn't look particularly good. The slide itself scooped out dirt to a depth of perhaps five feet and carried it down to lie in a spreading jumbled pile below, still on our land. That jumbled area, with a double depth of topsoil, is now mostly rough grass with some baby trees and shrubs in it, and in one spot there's a sketchy path going across to a still-naked pergola on the other side of the slide. I think that sketchy path could be lined with roses, old kinds, especially lanky varieties with climbing propensities, and planted with more shrubs and of course with more trees. The future destination of the slide area is to be a romantic treed ravine. I decided this soon after the slide happened, not being able to think what else to do; and the project has great utility, as the trees will hold the ground and act as a windbreak and give shade. Of course I'll be ninety before the trees are mature, but what are the passing years? Really, I enjoy my plans and their execution.
My fantasy order is about a hundred old roses, and it is realizable. The rest of the roses would line the tractor road up to the end of the garden. The roses I would back up with shrubs, and the shrubs, with trees. Summers are so hot, dry, sunny, and windy here, that almost all roses benefit from some degree of protection. Of course I don't know what the garden is going to look like by the end of summer. I doubt our modest snowfall is going to replenish the groundwater and the reservoir, and who knows what summer will be like. Last year was bad. But if I can keep my courage up, I'll have all summer to dig a hundred planting holes.
So, what's going on in your gardens, and what are you thinking about and planning?