Sow There! Making the best of the ‘bitter cold’ holiday season 12-1-16

Winter-blooming daphne is a most appropriate holiday gift.
Winter-blooming daphne is a most appropriate holiday gift. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record

Recently I was chatting with a friend about how it had suddenly turned very cold.

First off, Minnesota is cold. My Scandinavian relatives would listen to our Golden State grumbles and tell cold-intolerant California natives to go jump in a (frozen) lake.

Very cold for this part of the world means one week in January when we need to cover the Meyer lemon tree.

We can and will get through yet another winter, because in reality it only lasts for 2 ½ months. From now until the end of December we’ll be power walking through shopping aisles and warmed with overly sweetened coffee drinks. During another week we’ll prepare to rejoice, rejoice, then repair from rejoicing over the New Year. Next we’ll have just a few weeks to shiver in the “bitter cold” before the almonds bloom in mid-February.

As for gardeners, if we really start to feel down in the dumps, we can shop for winter-blooming plants including cyclamen and camellia. I like to start out with a primrose plant on the kitchen table then give it a place in the soil after the plant gets tired indoors.

About the time we can’t stand winter, daphne is ready to pop on Valentine’s Day, preceded by the timely daffodils and flowering quince.


As regular readers know, the Handsome Woodsman died in a car crash exactly one month ago. I won’t pretend that I plan a happy holiday season, but I don’t feel lost and alone. People I don’t even know have sent kind words. Last week when I couldn’t bring myself to write something cheery, a reader sent an email saying he hoped I’d be writing again soon, and that he understands.

Thanks for that.

Each of these gifts of encouragement have arrived at the right moment.

Those in my close circle have made a point of moving closer.

It’s strange to be the recipient of love for two people — the comfort my people want to give to me, as well as the love they wish they could still give to Dave.

The extra care helps on those “bitter cold” nights when all I can do is talk to photographs.


It’s the giving season, and Dave received some going away presents.

Suellen Rowlison of River Partners sent a nice card and said that a tree had been adopted in his name.

I’ve already decided I’m going to allow the oak tree in my yard to grow, the one he repeatedly tried to mangle with the oversized wheels of his 7.3-liter diesel truck.

Thanks as well to the folks who said they planted things in their own yard, while thinking of him.

My sweet friend Sharon made a Dave donation to Heifer International. Families who receive a boost through the group are often given a basket of chicks.

I can only imagine the chicken puns Dave would have made: “I wonder if they know how to raise chickens. I guess they’ll just wing it.”

My friend Katie owns Abundance Flower Designand is dreaming up some fantabulous flowers for the musical memorial. I can’t wait to see how she uses moss for her Handsome Woodsman/musician theme. (I’ll snap photographs for a later column.)

So many others have pitched in to make his memorial this weekend a special event.


Of course, we need to help prop up our local economy, so some gift ideas for your favorite gardener seems like an appropriately cheery topic for a “bitter cold” week.

• Share some love with that guy at the Saturday farmers market who makes bird (and squirrel) feeders. To take it up a notch, paint the contraption in your sweetie’s favorite colors.

• How about a purple garden hose?

• Fill a spice shaker with poppy seeds, available in bulk at Northern Star Mills.

• Bare-root roses can actually be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. They’re dormant this time of year and will never know the difference.

• My stepmom Lynda likes to attach a blank check to a fancy gardening catalog. Locally you can buy a gift card from a nearby nursery.

• Create a handmade coupon to attend a plant workshop, with a nursery shopping trip to immediately follow.

• Colorful rain boots.

• Macabee gopher trap.

• Freesia bulbs.

• A silver-handled trowel engraved with an message.

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