Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Solstice Greetings!

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As of a few hours ago the Wheel turned once more and we moved from the waning light to its joyous return. In a few days we’ll be able to see that the days are starting to get longer, something which every gardener longs for at this time of year. We have few plants to enliven our gardens with color now tho a few things do bloom still.

But mostly it’s the time of evergreens, and so we decided to do something a bit different as well as our usual house lights and the Holiday Tree and all. This year we decorated the little Cryptomeria Vilmoriana on our front porch. It greets all out visitors as they come up the steps to our front door. I think it looks great with the little bulbs on it. Not the usual tree to decorate but who cares? It still works for us.

As well as enjoying the conifers and other evergreens in the garden right now, it’s also time to be looking at seed catalogs now and dreaming of what we’ll plant in the spring. And how we’ll be sure to do it right this year and not make the same silly mistakes we did last time, right? I’m sure I won’t do the same foolish things I did last year, will I? I hope not… 😉

I hope you’re all enjoying this relative down time for us gardeners and relish the seasons delicacies that still turn up now and then. Like the “Charity” Mahonia I have that’s been blooming its bright yellow flowers for months now it seems. And the Winter Daphne that’s just starting to bud out in preparation for its so fragrant blooms.

I’m ready for a change already and it’s just Solstice today. I guess I’m impatient, but then I know I’m not really. I just love to see things growing and find the fallow time more difficult. Going within to the darkness of winter is always hard on me and I miss the ability to put my hands in the dirt as often as I’d like to. Time to get into the greenhouse and work there I guess.

So I wish you all a very Merry Solstice and a Happy New Year, and hope that all your gardening dreams come true for you this year. It’s a special time of openness and it’s good to be open to what Nature has to offer, even in this season of cold and darkness. There’s still the Return of the Light and it’s happening now. So go enjoy it!

May this Season of Lights be bright for you and yours,

Steve

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A Garden of Lights

Front Yard Lights

It seems we go a little crazy this time of year. I guess many people do. But what we do is decorate, decorate, decorate. We put up lights all over our garden and house. As you can see in this picture the plants that looked so serene in their winter stasis are now cloaked in the glory of Lights and more lights. We celebrate this as the Season of Lights in fact.

It’s the time of the Winter Solstice and here in the Northern Hemisphere that means that the days are becoming shorter each day and the darkness is coming on strong. Especially at a higher latitude like Seattle where it gets dark by 4:00 now. It’s Time to lighten things up!

In many northern countries there is a tradition of putting lights on trees at this Mid-Winter time of year. And also just to nurture the waning light and await the return of the light of the Solstice. It’s a time when people would get together and share what bounty they had over the winter months when things would become lean and lights did symbolize the belief and hopes that people had that light would indeed be coming back to prevent the dark from taking over the world. Superstition or reality? You decide. Those folks believed that their rituals actually brought back the light and whos’s to say it didn’t, for them anyway?

Plants Lighted

We like lots of color so we put different colors on the plants to emphasize their different natures. The “Sango-Kaku” maple, with its red stems, gets red lights, and the Oregon Green Pine gets green ones. On the left, where you can’t really see it, is a Colorado Blue Spruce and of course it’s got blue lights. The grey Pfitzer juniper is an anomaly since grey isn’t exactly a pretty color so we use yellow white on it, and on the Globe Arborvitae in the center, the Tree of Life, we use golden lights with a mellow glow.

The house is a whole different story of course. There we put up all colors of lights and do so all around the house, concentrating on the roof line and the windows. We get up on ladders and have h0oks up that we re-use every year to make it easy to put them up tho we still staple the others to the window frames.  We intend to put up hooks there too, so as we get older it’ll be safer for us to get on the ladders and put them up without danger of falling precipitously.

We went thru all our lights this year to pick out the good ones and decided that many had to be replaced, so we went to the store and bought a whole bunch of new strings. We’re thrifty so we used a lot of the half-dead strings to do the front. You can’t see them but across the whole front of the property there’s a double string of multi-colored lights on  the Nandina and Oregon Grapes, which look like holly,  and liven it up out there. In the dark it’s hard to tell that it isn’t holly and the sparkle of the leaves and the sinuous line of the lights draws people into the rest of the yard. We get a lot of people stopping by to look at the display even tho it’s really not as outrageous as many people do. But it suits us and gives us pleasure.

Nordman Spruce

Of course we have lights inside too on the Holiday Tree and we got some LED lights to do it this year. We got a Normand Spruce, a new tree to the holiday trade in the last 5 or 6 years we understand. It’s dense and has lots of branches and has a nice fragrance we enjoy getting close  to. We put it in warm water to start with with a touch of sugar and a hint of Chardonnay for good measure. It all helps…; ) We were sparing of the decorations this year and just put on a few to accentuate the lights and the shape of the tree.  I think more people will be using this tree in the years to come as it’s quite lovely and hardy and doesn’t lose it’s needles for a long time.

This may seem like foolishness and a waste of energy to some I’m sure. But it’s only once year and we are really pretty conservative as well as we can be the rest of the year, on electricity and water and everything else. We’re pretty frugal really. But we do splurge on the lights. After all it’s the Season for them, eh? A Beautiful Season of Lights and a Great Holiday to you all.

In Service to the Light,

Steve

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