My Winter Garden

martha cinader
Buddha meditates, surrounded by moss and parsley.

I like living in the upstate of South Carolina. We get four seasons, but winter is mild. It can be drab though. Our mostly hardwood trees just look grey and naked and forlorn in the winter time. We had a warmish weekend, and I stepped out to pull some weeds on Saturday. It’s been so warm this winter that the bulbs are coming up early, and I saw a few flowers already on my strawberries.

Last winter I covered my boxes closest to my kitchen with compost and leaves. They looked as drab as everything else. I decided I wanted them to look green and beautiful all winter long, to give us something cheerful to look at from the kitchen. I put a garden sculpture in the center of each box, and surrounded each with a circle of moss that I transferred from under some trees in the woods. There is a tree over the boxes, casting shade and making it difficult to grow anything that has to have a lot of sunlight.  I threw parsley seeds all around, with partial shade bulbs underneath, that should come up through the parsley in the spring.

The parsley has grown and stayed a brilliant green all winter long. I use it to add fresh greens to our food, and will turn all the surplus under to enrich the soil in the box in late spring. I’m really happy with the results. If I was more ambitious I would hedge the parsley to make it look all neat and tidy, but I’m not.

Meanwhile I had to pull tons of weeds out of the new strawberry bed. Last summer my husband created a strawberry lane to the West Wing Garden. The plan is to fill in around the stepping stones with strawberries. The starters are coming from the rapidly spreading strawberries in the West Wing Garden. They have to be thinned out to encourage strawberries to grow. It’s hard to have too many strawberries between the kids and the bugs and strawberry jam.

Strawberry Fields was an orphanage near where John Lennon grew up. Now there is a Strawberry Fields in Central Park in New York City across from where he was living when he was killed. But before there was any of those Strawberry Fields there were most likely strawberry fields forever all over Manhattan, where they once grew wild and were gathered by Native Americans. We have wild strawberries growing around here too. They are small and bright red, and come up in abundance around the ponds in the spring time. But they don’t taste good. They are hard and taste like straw.

Once I started I had to restrain myself from acting like it is already spring, or that I am a spring chicken either. Slightly sore muscles, red cheeks and an un-choked garden free to spread its roots around, a small step toward what is to come.

A soon-to-be strawberry lane.Chamomile adds some green to the greyness…
Strawberries have to be thinned out to produce more fruit.
Early blooming hyacinth were stunted by freezing temperatures.



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