Harmony in the Garden Blog

I’m craving Cabin Fever….

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Living  here in California can be exhausting for a gardener – specifically here in the Bay Area, where our average Winter temperatures only dip down into the 30’s.  Our gardens are pretty much year-round here and always in some state of ‘workability’ in the Winter, always staring you in the face asking when you’re going to come on out and tend to it.

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Right this minute, in fact,  I have many shrubs giving me a guilt trip as I walk out to get the mail – I swear I hear them saying “what can you possibly be DOING inside?  You KNOW there’s work to do out here”  Now, mind you, I love my garden.  I love (almost) all aspects of taking care of my garden – but COME ONE…everyone needs a break now and then…I’m TIRED!  I’m really craving a bit of Cabin Fever right about now!

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Part of me really envies those of you who live in snowy climates, as you get to take a break and sit back and catch your breath….sharpen your garden tools, clean your house, organize your drawers, read a book perhaps.  Or something we don’t do nearly enough – just sit back and admire the structure of your garden.

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I just returned from a week at my parent’s home at Lake Tahoe – where I finally got the chance to just RELAX. While taking long walks in the forest,  I was struck by just  how beautiful nature is in the snow….how the snow highlights the structure of plants and trees and how dormant plants can really shine when there’s so much WHITE everywhere.  Very interesting and beautiful, and very different from our typical colorful, green and busy Winter gardens back home.

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It really became apparent how much Mother Nature’s own landscaping influences the way we garden.

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For instance, the combination of trees above is an example of how I’ve created my own garden…large evergreens in the back, with deciduous trees on the side and in the front.

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Or, how the soothing repetition of the lake’s ripples reflect our desire for swaths of mass plantings in the garden.

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The the straight lines of these icicles mimic the lines of this Chondropetalum – one of my favorite plants…

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And no wonder I have so much chartreuse in my own garden…I’ve grown up collecting Wolf Moss from the trees of Lake Tahoe and have always adored the bright and happy color.  Nothing is more visually exciting than to walk in a winter-white forest and come upon this techni-colored band of trees!

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When so much is covered up by the snow, you begin to notice different aspects of plants – like their form and color.

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The way the white snow and blue sky sets off the yellow branches of the Pussy Willow is stunning – without all of the white around, the yellow color would surely be lost….

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The same holds true for the red twigs of the native Dogwood…adding much needed color to the landscape.

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An ordinary tangle of branches all of a sudden looks quite artistic with the snow accenting it’s structure…

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As does this oh-so-common native Manzanita…it’s red bark really stealing the show this time of year.

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But Oy Vey!  It’s the pinecones that really steal the show for me. The texture of the needles just glow in the sunlight, with these little bursts of brown happiness at the ends of their branches…

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But it doesn’t stop with plants – even common, every-day structures all of a sudden take on an inherent beauty and now’s the time when you start to notice the detail in gates, pillars, bridges….

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Ahhh….it was a nice break.  Pardon me, now as I must be going….I have a ton of gardening to do…..

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25 Comments

  • Rebecca: I really enjoyed seeing where you get your inspiration. Aha, Mother Nature, it is… No wonder you’re such a talented garden designer. Thanks for such an interesting post. Teresa

  • Rebecca: I really enjoyed seeing where you get your inspiration. Aha, Mother Nature, it is… No wonder you’re such a talented garden designer. Thanks for such an interesting post. Teresa

  • Sorry, I’m just not buying it. To be able to be in the garden and have the plants that thrive in your zone. Nice. I do understand the desire for a break. Lord knows I was done mowing the lawn for the season (even though it’s a postage stamp) but me thinks you would miss your lovely gardens if you actually were forced into dormancy.

    • Okay – you figured me out! I must admit that once I returned from the snow…it was really, really nice to have the sun shining on my back. I spent the past 3 days cleaning up my garden (pruning, raking, pulling weeds) and loved every minute of it. But I DO need a break now and then – maybe just not a 3 month long break!! 😉

  • Dear Rebecca
    I share your sentiments exactly! Always things to do in the garden, even in the middle of our winter. I did accomplish quite a bit a few days ago, but where I once would be outdoors working every day or two, I’m now skipping a week or more.
    Do hope you are fully recovered from the ‘bug’ that hit you…. xo Alice

    • Thanks Alice…yes, I’m all better now! Hopefully I’ll be healthy the rest of the year!!

  • Late to the game here, but I think you have your RSS feed back, yes???? I added it back to my reader so I can keep up again.

    I know the grass is always greener (ha), but I swoon at the thought of a California garden I could care for in the winter, especially YOUR garden. Sigh. I guess I only have to wait two more months until I can get out there in my heavy coat, hat and gloves for some pruning.

    • Yes, my RSS is now working again…thanks again for your help & moral support with this nightmare!! I must admit, I’ve recovered a bit from ‘having to take a break’ from my garden and have enjoyed spending 10 hours in the front, just pruning and cleaning up with the sun shining on my back. It felt so good after freezing up in the snow!! Luckily for you, though, you’ll have plenty of time to work on your new – and FABULOUS – blog, without gardening chores to distract you!

  • I don’t know- I like the idea of cabin fever, but every winter (and this is an Oakland winter, mind you!) I spin myself silly with veggie and bulb catalogs, dreaming of how great spring is going to be. Spring is never as great as I imagine it, but it does provide some activities in the colder months. With an actual winter, I’d probably just go crazy!

  • Hello Rebecca, I just found your enjoyable blog. I have only potted plants, but enjoy caring for them and reaping what they offer. Right now I’ve got a nasturtium blossom to eat, calendula on its way, and some peas that look hardy but haven’t flowered yet.

    • Hi Steven – and thanks for ‘stopping by’! Just this morning I was thinking I need to buy some nasturtium seeds and get them in the ground…thanks for reminding me!

  • Gotcha Rebecca. Thanks for the comment about the problems you’ve had. Misery LOVES company.

    So now I’ve added your wonderful presence to my list. Maybe this was good because it has opened me to new and vital writers.

    I’m transplanting olives and edible flowers today and am still picking cherry tomatoes. Aren’t we California gardeners beleaguered?

    • Oh what I’d give to be transplanting olives and edible flowers today in my garden! Alas…I’m long overdue in cleaning up last month’s storm damage, so I’ll be on hands and knees mucking around in the mud. But with a compost bin empty, it’s an exciting prospect to fill it once again! Have a wonderful day!

  • So let me get this straight – when you finally get a week off from your garden, you spend photographing nature shots that remind you of your garden?

    You are a gardening addict for sure girl!

  • Much as we Northern gardeners like to complain about snow and cold — I don’t think most of us would trade it! I love winter nearly as much as all the other seasons — I love the chance it gives me to plan and look and relax and think about the garden, I love the fresh blank look of everything covered with snow.
    Now ’round about March, when it is STILL snowing, it is a different story. But right now: I don’t envy your warm climate at all!

  • Oh, I don’t mind doing a spot of gardening in winter, when I actually have some time off. I didn’t do much for most of summer, I’m ready to pull a few weeds, prune my fruit trees, and spread some compost.

    Great photos! That manzanita looks great with some snow!

  • Believe me, I do feel blessed to have enforced “time out” in snow season. On the other hand, my Christmas was spent where you usually live and we sure enjoyed 62 degrees on Christmas Day and long, sunny walks with no gloves.

  • What a lovely post. I know the feeling. Here in Austin we don’t get a gardening break either. In fact, winter is one of the busier times for me, as I start a lot of projects now that it’s cool enough not to burn to a crisp.

  • Rebecca,
    I have to laugh..because here in Boston with such cold weather this week – we definitely have cabin fever!!! The grass is always greener ;-> I love the way you connect wild places to our designed landscapes and wish everyone had the same appreciation!

  • Nice post, loved the comparisons & beautiful photos…….AAAhhhh Tahoe, one of my most favorite places in the world.

  • What a thoughtful post. I loved the comparison pictures at the top and the striking photos of the pinecones and snow.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your winter holiday with us.

  • Wow – what a compliment! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the post…I was born up there and spent my life visiting my grandparents there (their home, which my grandfather built, is now our family home where all major holidays and vacations are spent) so I have the utmost appreciation and love the Lake – and all the surrounding areas (including Carson City!)…

  • Thanks for taking me home with you. Growing up just over the hill in Carson City, I’ve spent a lot of time around The Lake. never could decide whether I like winter or summer best, it’s so beautiful all the time. Your appreciation of natural elements surely has something to do with your gardens looking so natural and uncontrived.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

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