How to Make an Ice Wreath

I first saw instructions for this project on The Artful Parent blog and thought it was incredibly clever — and I can’t believe that I never saw a similar ice wreath during all the frigid winters I spent on the Great Lakes. If I lived in a cold climate at the moment, I’d be gathering together all the materials I needed to make my own ice wreath, and figuring out where to hang it.

ice wreath

photo courtesy of Jean Van’t Hul at The Artful Parent blog; used with permission

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Winter Jasmine: An Early-Bloomer Often Mistaken for Forsythia

Copy of Jasminum_nudiflorum - wikimedia commonsThis has been an especially brutal winter for folks in many parts of the country — including the northeast, the midwest, and even the southeast, where gardeners are used to having flowers all winter. It’s one of those years when the earliest blooming plants will be especially welcome. Winter jasmine is one of those. It can bloom so early in the year during a warm spell that I’ve heard older Southern gardeners call it “January jasmine.” Continue reading

Surviving the Polar Vortex

Frozen Garden Hose and water pipe connectionMuch of the country experienced an extreme cold spell last week. The weather forecasters called it a polar vortex and depending on where you lived, it swept through with a fury between January 5th and 8th.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the meteorological explanations on the news for yourself, but here’s the way Scientific American recaps it:

“The polar vortex is a prevailing wind pattern that circles the Arctic, flowing from west to east all the way around the Earth. It normally keeps extremely cold air bottled up toward the North Pole. Occasionally, though, the vortex weakens, allowing the cold air to pour down across Canada into the U.S., or down into other regions such Eastern Europe.”

During the vortex, the daily temperatures being reported in Minnesota and the Dakotas were truly mind-boggling – 20 to 30 degrees below zero! Where I live in Atlanta, we had a record low of 6 degrees, combined with an extended freeze where it didn’t go about 32F at all for several days, which is unusual here. Continue reading

New Year’s Resolutions for Gardeners – Why Not Wait Until Springtime? quick search online just yielded hundreds of results for the phrase “new year’s resolutions.” Many of them were articles in a format I just abhor – lists of tips, most of which are neither helpful nor practical; many of which are downright laughable.

But my favorite, if only because it was that rare fresh take on the topic, was an article from Times of India that came up near the top of the search results. I got a kick out of the fact it took a decidedly pessimistic tone. It said:

“Thinking of starting all over again with the turn of the New Year? Don’t bother because making resolutions is a near pointless exercise, psychologists have clarified.”

Here’s what I think: the part that’s pointless is pegging the desire for change to a somewhat meaningless date on the calendar, in this case January first. Continue reading

Cyclamen Is My Favorite Winter Flower

white cyclamenFor many years, I’ve favored cyclamen over poinsettias when choosing a flowering plant to brighten up the indoor landscape at this time of year. To my mind, cyclamen is so much more interactive than poinsettia. From the day you bring it home, a poinsettia begins a slow decline toward the compost heap. Its colorful bracts are already formed and no new ones will appear. Before long, it will begin dropping its bottom leaves and start to appear thin and frail. A cyclamen, on the other hand, will entertain you for many weeks with active growth. Continue reading