What Do You Do in The Winter?

susanlynne48(OKC7a)September 25, 2011

This is for those of us who experience a "true" winter, with cold temps and precipitation in the form of ice or that fluffy white stuff.

So far, I don't do much, and it makes for a pretty boring long spell. In early spring, I do spend time planning what flowers I am going to plant and/or purchase, seeds, etc.

I pretty much have an idea of what I am going to do, and while that can change a bit, it probably won't change much. I am going to lean toward the single flowering Zinnias, and the Cosmic Orange Cosmos will be back. No getting around the fact that the butterflies and bees love it. I am planning on expanding my annual bed out front to accommodate more Zinnias, Cosmos, and Golden Crownbeard. I have really nice stands of the GC this year, and it is such an attractive plant, too. Am also going to grow some Verbena bonariensis in and among the annuals so I have more of it. The Buckeyes LOVE this plant as do others, but the Buckeyes tend to only choose the VB when they come to the garden.

This will probably be my last year of gardening for the butterflies, so I want to go out with a bang!

I also read a lot, and I hope to hang my bird feeder this year again so I have something to watch outside the window.

But I tend to be very inactive, putting on weight - OH, NO! - and I hate that!

Please share your winter time activities with me, and hopefully I'll get some ideas.


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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


I can't think about winter just yet, I always struggle to get through it. I'll think about this another day. LOL

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Read and I winter sow seeds but I don't try to start any before Christmas. I feel like I have more time after the holidays. I "asked" for seeds for Christmas last year, I ordered them myself and then gave them to my hubby so he could have the kids wrap them. It was my favorite present. : ) I don't winter sow zinnias. I just direct sow those. I'm going to winter sow some tithonia this time though. I have some that STILL aren't blooming yet. They volunteered very late this year for some reason.

I think nearly everybody puts on weight over the holidays so you're not alone. It's like another holiday display on January 1st when you go in the box stores, there will be big stacks of Slimfast, and stuff like that. It will be in the ads too along with exercise equipment.

I may have missed something but why will it be your last year to have a butterfly garden?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 10:44AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Wintersowing is an addiction for me--and trading seeds to do more wintersowing. Check out the wintersowing forum. Even if you don't want to do much planting, the forum stays active all winter, so there's always someone posting. I also stay busy at work and with my kids' school activities. My daughter is a freshman in high school this year, so I'm enjoying my last few years with her in the house.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:23PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

I am not a fan of winter... the only good thing for me is that my son's baseball activities keep me busy because baseball activity really starts to pick up in December in preparation for the EARLY spring season. (Scrimmages start in late February.) I continue to clean out gardens and compost... make notes about what I want to plant. I start searching for the dates of the local plant festivals and put those on the calendar. (Hard to get to some of them because of baseball conflicts.)

My house usually gets the cleanest in the winter because I'm too busy in the spring for the traditional spring cleaning! This year I'm also hoping to take a photography class or two over the winter months. Oh and last year I did compete in the Tulsa Garden Center's photo contest, so that was something else to break up the boring winter months.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 2:36PM
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Lep wise my winters were always very full for me even all the years when I lived in the deep snow frozen north... maintaining food plant and larva for those species I reared all winter there, caring for ovum, larvae and pupae being over-winntered for a future season, and traveling to warmer climates to continue doing lep field work. My home gardens only got what attention they needed when they actually needed them... my main interest was the leps and the gardens were only to support that interest. IOW, I gave up on elaborate gardens many years ago, those specifically to attract and especially those for our own comsumption fresh or for home canning. Instead they were mostly larval food plant gardens and screes that added greatly to the beauty of the property but also did attract nectar feeders as well as egg laying. But any livestock that was left by visitors on my property were mostly just left in place to fend for themselves. My thing has always been field trips to obtain wild larva, and doing hand pairing rather than rely on my gardens. Leps and gardens do go together, but when your a lepidopterist first who did take lots of field trips for futher research, livestock and LFP, the gardens end up taking a back seat.

Neither I nor my family was fond of deep snow or extreme cold, but we loved being in the outdoors and hated being couped up at home all winter. So it also helped that my family and I became quite active in winter sports and other activites to keep the winters from seldom getting boring. A favorite was Nordic skiing and camping where all three of us would get into the high mountain back country for a day or several. We'd enjoy a pack stove lunch on day trips or live off the land when they were longer. Another was ice skating on some frozen lake or river out in the mountain wilds. I often snowshoed in for some winter trout fishing, hunting or traping as well for days on end, but snowshoes were too much work for the family in deep snow so I did those alone. We also took our 4X4 ATV's out sometimes in the winter to explore some trail, or with the 4X4 trucks/SUV's I always had. I remember one of those day excursions where we built a huge igloo and family of snow eskimos along side a trail from items found in the forest and along a mostly river for any others who ventured by there to enjoy (or spend the night in). I'd bet the mention of it to my son would bring a huge smile as he and our dog especially enjoyed that day. IOW winter is what you make it... we chose to enjoy it as much as we could regardless of the cost in effort or expense until spring returned. And when spring did finally come, the last thing we wanted was to be a slave to a garden. The call of the wild was beckoning us. ;


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 5:45PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Nothing to do butterfly wise in winter here except monitor any pupae I have to overwinter. I am a winter-sower and seed swapper though. It makes the winter go by much quicker. I'm collecting tons of seed now through early winter for drying. Then comes the cleaning and inventorying it for trading. Creating my "have" and "want" lists for the swaps. I read a lot of gardening books and go through catalogs to find things I want to try. Then when I actually join some swaps I end up adding things to my want list that I see on other people's lists. Packing up and sending seeds out for the swap takes a bit of time. Then when I get my packages back I have hundreds of packets to sort through, research, and make plant tags for. And that is all before I even start sowing, which takes place mostly January through mid-April. In late winter I order any additional seeds or supplies and start planning the beds and where to put all my seedlings.

I used to just clean up the garden a bit in late fall, order a handful of seeds (because of the cost) in winter and wait impatiently till late spring to do anything outside. Our springs are usually so wet and cold that you can't do much with the soil until May. Now with seed swapping and wintersowing the winter seems a lot shorter.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:27PM
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Pupate, what else!

Seriously, winter is time for seed buying and collecting. Until the ground is literally frozen, I can still clear and burn off old growth. Many seeds will be started indoors.

I will do some hunting this winter, building pens for poultry and cat/moth rearing cages.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 10:16PM
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terrene(5b MA)

We have harsh winters here sometimes! Last winter was brutal, so a lot of time was spent dealing with snow and ice. Had 3 leaks in the house due to ice dams and 3 feet of snow on the ground. Ugh.

I manage to find many garden and nature related activities to do nonetheless. It helps to pass the time. Winter doesn't go by fast enough for me!

- Feed birds and participate in 4 bird counts (i.e. Christmas Bird count, Project Feederwatch)
- Surf gardening websites and plant databases
- Winter-sow seeds, I usually do over 100 containers
- Do seed trades and offer free seeds for SASBE (self-addressed stamped bubble envie) each winter
- Read gardening books
- Take some winter photography
- Take walks in the woods

To name most of them.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 7:17PM
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Great ideas from everyone! I don't venture out much in the bad weather anymore. The ailing body is much more prone to slips and falls, none of which I want to spend the winter nursing.

Terrene - I lived in Mass for a little over a year and it was the most beautiful sight - true Currier and Ives inspiration with the frozen ponds, gorgeous scenery, snow that didn't really melt until spring. I just couldn't take that it lasted soooooooo long....... I have a little white Mazda, and when it snow there (31", a real Nor'easter), it drifted to cover my little car. I had to hire a neighbor boy to dig it out! But, I LOVE the way they take care of the roads and residential streets there. Here in OKC, we have snow routes and only those streets are plowed. I lived in North Grafton, a very quaint little town close to Worcester.

The folks really get into the holiday spirit there, too. My daughter and I went out one evening to a restaurant and one of the customers started a Xmas song sing-a-long and everybody was having a great time! The most fun, spontaneous thing I've ever experienced! I will always remember and cherish that evening.

From there I moved to Dallas, Texas, where snow and ice is limited and the winters are downright balmy in comparison. I liked Dallas, too, very much. Large city with lots of shopping, a multitude of restaurants and great food! Stayed there 2 years before moving back to OKC.

Memory lane here.........


    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 8:16PM
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Susan, do you stil have any red eggplant?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 10:09PM
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I tried to grow it years ago, but the seeds did not germinate. Haven't tried it since then.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 6:51AM
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Pallida(Zone 7b)

I echo Christie's concern. Why will this be your last year for BF gardening? Don't let this last horrible weather year discourage you. Granted, this "ol' gal" couldn't take the heat the way I used to, but I still managed to do garden chores very early in the AM and late PM. For me, gardening is like breathing - can't live withot it!


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 9:12AM
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Susan, I'm the same age as you, and I've slowed down a lot, too, but I couldn't give up butterfly gardening altogether.
I've let a lot of cats raise themselves outside this year, and it's worked very well. The monarch chrysalides that I've found still look healthy, like a healthy butterfly will soon emerge. And the gulf frits and pipevine swallowtails are in their usual huge numbers - I find the chrysalides, some empty, all over the place.
When we had the drought in June, I watered in late evening or early morning. We old gals need to push ourselves...and take Aleve twice a day! :/

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 9:39AM
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I am going to sell my house due to financial changes that will occur when I turn 65 - 2 years from now. I will no longer have the income I have now (it will be reduced significantly; it's the pits to become a true senior citizen). The following summer will be spent getting the yard "salable" so I'll be giving away a lot plants and getting rid of those that most homebuyers are not looking for, and trying to give it more "curb appeal". It's going to be a lot of work.

I'll be trying to find a small apartment with a courtyard area that I can have a few butterfly/hummer plants in, so I won't be giving it up entirely, just a much smaller scale.

I hate to do it, but on the other hand, I just not physically able to handle home ownership, gardening, and all that entails as I go forward. I'll probably keep up with the forum and stop in to say "hey" because I consider so many of you "friends". It's gonna be a reality check for me. But, I am single and finding it increasingly hard to maintain everything on my own, financially, physically, and to be honest, mentally. I'm a worry wart, yes, and I need to not have as much to worry about, lol!

Also, since my daughter has been ill all summer, it's been especially difficult to care for all my stuff and me, and care for her and my 16 month GD. I am there from about 9 a.m. until about 5 or 6 p.m., and she challenges my energy for sure. But she's so darned cute, and it just amazes me to see her learn everything, and she expresses such wonder when she purses her lips, sucks in a bunch of air, and goes "what's that?" I found a Ladybug the other day and let it crawl on my hand til it flew off. She was just fascinated! She loves bugs! I've really had to push it to handle everything this summer. I'm home on most weekends but it's still a time crunch to get it all done.

Kenna will be 10 yo next month, so she's a breeze to care for, when she's home that is!

So that's the long and short of it.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:08PM
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I'm so sorry you're having to sell your house, Susan, but hopefully you can find an apartment you'll be happy in.
A courtyard area would be a good place for you to have at least a few plants!
And I sure hope you post here periodically - we'll miss you if you don't!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Pallida(Zone 7b)

As it is said, "Growing old is not for sissies!", or something like that. I'm 73, living on SS and in the country in a little cabin, driving an old car, that my son keeps running and yet, every day is a blessing as long as I can take care of myself and enjoy God's wonders around me! Wow! Watching the butterflies and humming birds busy nectar gathering around the flowers, and seeing things burst into life in the Spring is breath-taking. I'm sure you can find a condo with a patio garden that won't be so demanding on your health and with your gardening skills, will have a little "Garden of Eden", in no time! Don't quit posting. You will ALWAYS have things of interest to say to we Senior Citizen "Green Thumbs"!!!!!!!!


    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 5:31AM
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Ament(5a SD)

Please don't stop posting, you will always keep those of us younger learning! :) I love to read everything here. I spend hrs reading every single post, learning, laughing and enjoying everything!

Thank you so very much to each and every one of you! ~Tina, Who isn't looking forward to a very cold SD winter!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 6:51PM
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Sorry you're going to have to move Susan. That's something I don't like to think about - having to downsize someday. I already have trouble keeping up. Our yard is over an acre and a half. Winning the lottery would help. : ) I'd love to be able to hire someone occasionally to help me catch up. Hope you're able to find the perfect place with a little space to garden in. You can pack a lot of plants into a very small garden.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Awwwww, gosh you guys are sooooo great! I have made so many friends here - my best friends, actually! I couldn't bear to not be a part of the group here, even sans butterflies and plants!

Christie and Sherry - you guys have such large areas to keep up with, I don't think I could handle that unless I had some help, or a LOT of help, lol! But you make my heart swell with the love you have for the winged beauties of this world. And, Christie, you are right! You can pack a lot of plants into a very small garden. My garden here is very, very small in terms of having a butterfly garden. I probably only have about I probably only have about 1,000 sf right now, but I grow tons of flowers, vines, trees, shrubs, bulbs, etc.

When I first moved here in Sept., 1998 (I began planting in spring 1999), Cannas, a Hydrangea, two Azaleas, Rabbit Ears, two big Pines, a Bradford Pear, and a Black Eyed Susan were all that were planted here. It is surrounded by neighbor's Hackberry and Elm trees. All of the other things I've mentioned growing over the years were added by me. I quit using the back yard a few years back because I just couldn't maintain both the front and back, and the front offered more sun exposure.

It has been a fun-filled adventure to be sure.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:28AM
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