Wintry Garden-ness.

Alert: garden nerdery ahead.

Looking around my Winter garden, it’s easy to think that there’s not a lot going on. There’s certainly not the lush and rampant growth of the warmer months. But there’s always something going on in a garden, isn’t there? However silent and sleeping the appearance of things.

one of a row of foxgloves that I planted in the Autumn. Seems happy enough, largely thanks to an absence of pesky slugs and snails.

Always with my early morning cuppa in hand, I perform my rounds, looking closely at each zone and peering in every little bed. Looking for changes, however tiny; seeing what jobs need doing, and planning when I can get at them. I also come upon small gifts and surprises in the form of buds, flowers, cuttings that have taken, (lavender, pineapple sage, hydrangea); or seeds that have enthusiastically sprouted. I have such tenderness for those new growths, as they seem to embody such a trust and faith in life itself.

At the moment I’m thoroughly chuffed with my sweet pea seedlings – here’s hoping the slugs won’t find ’em. Or even a singular slug. It only takes one, doesn’t it?

Sweet peas are an old favourite, and finally having a garden with beautifully rich mountain soil, I feel as though they’ve got a fighting chance. So too my california poppy and cornflower seedlings.

Sweet pea seedlings. With photobombs from california poppy (foreground) and the ever-present oxalis behind.

One of the first things I plant wherever I am, is calendula (along with yarrow). It’s not only one of the easiest things to grow but it provides year-round colour in my part of the world. It’s a fab companion plant, and it’s a core ingredient in my Garden Tea.*  At this time of the year, along with an abundance of lemons, calendula is a sunny dose of midwinter cheer.

Calendula. Otherwise referred to at Rapunzel’s as “Vitamin C”.
Lemon tree laden with lemonade lemons. I swear we’ve been picking them – we just can’t keep up with them! Hoping our neighbour will come and get some, as it’s a tree we decided to share.

Most of my time in the Winter garden is taken up with composting and mulching, using all the wonderful leaf-fall provided by Autumn’s abundant shedding. I’m also having a mad, brave stab at getting some bergamot (bee balm) and English primrose seeds started. I say “mad” and “brave”, because both can be tricky to get going from seed. Although some might argue that they pop up like weeds once established, getting them going from scratch, in seed trays can sometimes be a challenge. That challenge, specifically for me, is not only rosellas and parrots, but also Merlin.

‘im indoors. Often outdoors too. Digging up my efforts.

Merlin is also referred to by all at Rapunzel’s, variously  as “Norman Bates”, “Vlad the Impaler”, and “Big Bastard”, (initials BB). Yes, we do love him, but he drives us completely barking mad with his genius for out and out destruction. High. Maintenance.

Anyway, we shall see. Has anyone had any success or experience starting either bergamot and/or English primrose seeds?

I know that English primrose is now an endangered species in Britain. Which to me is a kind of madness, but it goes to show how much damage weed-spraying does to eco-systems. Anyway, I adore primrose, and want to eventually have it growing beneath my maple tree, and in the woodsy parts of my garden. Also around my yet-to-be-constructed stone circle. A little patch worthy of the druids, perhaps?

Well, toodle-oo for now. I must go and get some work done. xx


*Garden Tea is basically a random picking of herbs for the teapot. Usually always containing calendula, and melissa, and often including rose petals, lavender, yarrow, and thyme depending on seasonal availability, and the mood of the day.

7 thoughts on “Wintry Garden-ness.

  1. mmm, garden porn. lovely!

    i love sweet peas too, and foxgloves. even the name, foxgloves, is enchanting. one of the witchy plants i wish i had in my environs, but they are hard to grow here. sweet peas, along with violets and sweet william and lily of the valley, always remind me of my granny. and yarrow—i need to plant some of that; yarrow is for strong boundaries, energetically speaking. and artemisia, as well, for self-trust and inner strength.

    i didn’t know that primroses had become endangered in britain—how sad. practically every wild flower here is greatly reduced compared to what they were in my childhood. all that damnable poison spraying. i hope you can get them growing—i believe they are one of the plants that are said to attract fairy folk…

    much luck with your seed-starting! i’ve never attempted primroses from seed. actually, i’ve never heard of starting them that way, although obviously one can. i should think the bee balm might be easier. where i live, plants come in two categories: ones that only thrive if directly seeded, and ones that you have to start and transplant. we struggle with unpredictable spring weather, and never know what a given growing season will be like as we straddle two gardening zones.

    speaking of zones and things i cannot grow, what a bounty of lemons. just wow. must be nice!

    that’s a great picture of merlin. he looks like he’s plotting his next offense…my own demonic feline is getting on nicely with her pointless endeavor of destroying the carpet on the stair. it’s down to bare backing thread in many spots, and no part is unaffected. i had wanted to replace it with a pretty oriental runner or a morris print one, but…quel point when she’s only going to claw it to shredded fluff? (BAD KITTEH. sigh.)

    here’s to green garden magic, minimally impacted by a certain dark lordship!


    1. ” all that damnable poison spraying” OH YES! We don’t have any frogs in our little pond, this year!!!! We see less birds. It has been Summer Solstice and I have yet to see any fireflies! We are sick, at this…

      And what blows my mind, because I see so damn much of it, is what they do to their damn lawns! Those little flags which lawn people have to put down, to “tell” people and pets to not walk in treated lawn, for “so and so” much time. WHO tells the birds and the squirrels and the chipmunks and the frogs and……?????????

      -sigh- Must stop. My blood pressure is rising.


    2. Yarrow and artemisia – yes! I’ve been popping these in about the place. Extending my single yarrow patch further. And artemisia is such a wonderful plant in general – fills gaps and seems to flourish even in inhospitable soils. And so, so pretty with its silvery feathers.

      And I am indeed trying to attract the fairies : ) Hence my plan to have primrose growing in my “Sacred Grove”, (which like my “Library” reflects my delusions of grandeur).

      Straddling garden zones can be tricky, can’t it? It’s a gentler climate here – not so ridden with extremes, but we do swing between very hot and dry, and then rain-foresty sodden. I have to have things growing here that are frost hardy, but that can also withstand lots of wet for months, and then not curl up their toes during the dry Summer months.

      Our cats should never meet. It would be world domination within minutes. I feel your pain. I can’t have any pretty baskets within Merlin’s orbit, or they end, like your carpet. xx


  2. Your month of June, is comparable to my month of December.

    It is amazing, always so, to see how your garden can be planted and grow, in this winter of yours.

    Our winter can be deep in cold, ice, snow, frozen ground, cold temps… Because of the stuff I don’t get, about where we are in the Northern Hemisphere… And all the details of where you are in the Southern Hemisphere. Which people who know about such things, would understand. But I just compare my winter with your winter, and continue to be amazed. Silly me, but it’s all I know.


    And with Merlin, -gigggles-, guess you just have to try to keep one step ahead of him!!!!! He keeps you all, on your toes!

    Gentle hugs,


    1. Yes, it is a strange translation of seasons between us, isn’t it Tessa? It can be helpful to think of it in terms of latitude…Melbourne has a 37 degree latitude, so it shares the same latitude as with other 37 degree cities such as San Francisco, Seville, and also Granada in Spain, and Athens in Greece. So you kind of get the gist there with the kind of climate we have at different times of the year.
      We’re similar to a temperate mediterranean climate, but up here on my mountainside we have a rainforest microclimate…so. Yes. A mix of things : )


  3. garden nerdery — joy!!!

    i envy you your winter gardening….i think it must be the perfect gardening sort of weather. i haven’t had much luck with my flower seeds this year at all….other than the calendula 😉 — the weather has been too much of a rollercoaster ride of hot and cold and then with the wretched lack of rain…a very feeble showing. i’ve decided i need to be more organized and get them started indoors next year.

    i think of primroses with the same sort of happiness that i do violets…they’re such merry little souls.



    1. I have to dodge the rain a lot at the moment, Mel. But my word! It’s so much easier to get out in the garden at this time of the year than in Jan and Feb when it’s blistering!

      This year I’m concentrating on seed-raising more than any other year, just because I need to have a very strict garden budget, and it’s certainly the cheapest way to accrue plants.

      And I adore violets! Mine are just shyly starting to pop out now – they are a midwinter flower here : ) xx


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