Snow arrived on January 31st and remained until February 26, except for a few piles where the driveway was plowed, and patches in the shade of the Lady Cottage and gazebo. I don’t know how more northern folks manage the piercing bleakness. It made the month seem very long. Of course it was sunny on Groundhog Day, foretelling 6 more weeks of winter. We’ll see how that turns out. We did have some near record-breaking cold. The lowest temp was minus 12 F. And we had cold for an unusually long period for February, with below freezing temps for weeks, and more snow than usual for this month. The snow finally began to melt…albeit slowly at first on Feb. 23, and then more quickly on Feb. 28th, when it actually hit 62 degrees F here in north central Indiana. At least February ended on a high note! By late afternoon, the potager looked like this…
It was too soggy to take the golf cart out, or to carry a ladder to the top of the Lavender Slope, so the photo was taken at ground level. If it had been taken higher, you could see all of the standing water in the closer paths. Notice how the nearest berry box has a sunken top from the weight of the snow. It was stretched-tight metal hardware cloth securely nailed, so I’m not sure how it sank so far. I bucketed 12 gallons of water off the top before it was light enough that I could lift it to tip the rest of the water off. The “center” box is the spinach box, which I had cleared of snow several times to harvest during the month. The far box covering leeks and carrots apparently has a few small holes that let water leak through, although I didn’t spot any holes when I looked. Interestingly, the spinach that was left totally uncovered looks just as green and happy as the spinach under the berry box shelter. The difference is that the outdoor spinach hasn’t grown at all, while the protected spinach has grown whenever the temps allowed. All in all, nothing was accomplished outdoors at all the entire month, and there was no noticeable change in any of the gardens, other than pruning done by the deer. And for those of you who have steel-trap minds, “No, the primrose bud did NOT open, so there was no outdoor flower at all in February 2021.” In fact, it still has snow over the leaves, but the bud is still there, intact and unfurled, so there is hope for March! In past years, since 2015 when I began bloom records on the gardens here at the house, there have only been two years when there has been an outdoor bloom at all in February. “Cream Beauty” was the earliest arrival in both instances, Feb. 17th in the unusually warm and dry year of 2017, and Feb. 26 in 2018. In all other years, a “Cream Beauty” crocus bloomed sometime in the second week of March. I was hoping to get more flowers in February by adding snowdrops last fall, winter aconite the year before, and moving some hellebores into locations that get more sun in winter, but none of those changes made a difference this year.
Indoors, the seeding has continued with an additional 20 varieties sown: onions, statice, peppers, gold cipollini, calendula, orange portulaca, another lavender, delphinium, another primula, asarina, fava beans, sweet peas, and the dwarf marigolds that will edge the potager’s main paths.
The most exciting variety to me are the “Henry Eckford” sweet peas, which are supposed to actually be orange. They’ve already germinated and are about an inch tall. Still waiting on some back-ordered “Captain of the Blues” to arrive, hopefully soon. Just in case, I did soak and sow the seeds I collected from last summer’s sweet peas, which were very nice. Total varieties seeded to date: 47
Additionally, 192 plants have been transplanted into individual pots this month.
The parade of amaryllis continues, with another “after Christmas deeply discounted” bulb purchased years ago that has bloomed each year since. If there hadn’t been Covid (how often have we repeated that phrase?!?) I would have hit the stores hunting for more of these treasures the week after Christmas. This one is one of my favorites.
Harvested in February: only 1.5 lbs. (spinach, 2 carrots and two very small leeks) The snow was too deep, or the ground too frozen to attempt much else without great effort, which I was not willing to expend!
That’s the review of February, which was not a great month, but we are still here, we did not suffer any power outages like some parts of the country, we had plenty to eat, and there were some beautiful sunsets the last few days of the month, like this beauty.