It is February which means I have survived the worst month in Colorado, which is always January. The days are short, ending claustrophobically even before I’ve started dinner, and it is often bitterly cold. The worst is the boring weather–indifferent, icy sunshine pouring from a frozen blue sky, day after day after day. I ache for snowstorms in January, or cloudy days, or something to break up that endless blah cold. It isn’t that I hate winter. I just hate boring January.
And then February arrives and the earth tilts ever so slightly toward summer, and the days progress minute by minute toward dinnertime, then catch it. In February, it can snow a lot, soaking the ground in readiness for spring. If we’re lucky, crocuses might start popping up. The tree branches start to swell.
My gardener’s heart turns to catalogues, oh torturous exercise! Look at those plump tomatoes, those tender flower sprouts, even the clogs and knee protectors. I want to go turn the compost just to smell the earth. I spy the seedling trays and tug them off the winter shelf, wondering when I might be able to begin planting. What to grow, what to grow…..? Potatoes and sweet potatoes, garlic and onions; peaches of course, and roses and petunias. More lavender, which is a very good plant for even the hot dry summer they are predicting here.
What can I start now?
Nothing, quite yet, but I can dream.
It is not predicted to be a great gardening year around here, by the way. The local water board is talking seriously about whether there will be water restrictions this summer, which is VERY challenging for gardeners in this high, dry place. In the back of my mind, I’m already plotting how to maximize my water usage if that turns out to be true. I’ll save shower and bath water and carry it out by hand. (It is illegal to have rain barrels here—every drop of water, once used, belongs to someone downriver.) I’ll erect little tents to shade plants from the hottest sun. I’ll grow drought resistant varieties. I’ll buy a greenhouse and create my own rainforest.
What I’d really like is this:
I’ve been in love with conservatories since my first visit to England. I love them so much that I wrote an entire novel, Lucien’s Fall, about a woman who is determined to save her family gardens and conservatory at all costs—even if she has to marry the wrong man. Madeline saves her conservatory and happily marries a marquess, but I doubt I will build one in the suburbs any time soon.
I will settle for this, which I realized a few days ago will cost less than a new macro lens for my camera, something I’ve been saving for, as a reward.
How do you occupy yourself through the February doldrums? How is the weather in your part of the world? Are you, like me, pouring over the garden catalogues?