In one of my past lives, I was a social worker in East Orange, New Jersey, for the state children’s agency – I remember one of my many co-workers was an interesting guy who one day shared with me his belief that Christmas had been artificially placed in the middle of the world’s most depressing time of year, specifically for the purpose of adding a little joy to an otherwise gloomy and dreary season – an interesting concept, and one that has, frankly, taken on a stronger significance the older I have become. And moving into the Northwest of the U.S. has only reinforced that same significance.
Let’s hear it for Christmas!
As I emerged into the early morning light today (7:45), I noticed the last few potted dahlia hanger-on blooms on the porch, and I thought to myself, Isn’t it nice that there still is some of nature’s beauty, even as the season turns to enter its least “flower friendly” period. And that thought led to another – Why not bring just a tiny bit sunshine to my own soul this winter, and occasionally seek out those few members of nature’s world which refuse to cease blooming, regardless of the season? I’m quite sure that if I’m willing to get out and look around a little bit, I can find those members of the plant world that refuse to join the crowd.
And so I have determined to do just that – I’ll call it Project Bloom. Each month this winter, I shall venture forth to find the bravest of nature’s flowers – those who choose the most inhospitable of seasons to burst into bloom, and to celebrate the joy of life – why should we not join them in that joy, and feel better for the effort itself? And then I’ll do a post here on the blog to share with others, who may just need a little winter joy as well.
I’m quite willing to take bets on this – I’ll bet that I find MUCH more of nature’s beauty than anyone could imagine was out there! And even with my own optimistic attitude, I’d bet that even I will be surprised just how much is out there, waiting to be seen – and appreciated.
I’m going to begin at what is locally recognized as the unofficial start of the winter season – November 1st. There will still be some nice Indian Summer days (maybe) during November, but few could argue that the annual shift in weather patterns has not already begun, bringing us steady light rains on a regular basis, and an almost constant supply of clouds. When this weather pattern has set in, we know we’re about to have it with us for the next six months – with maybe only a peek of sun on one or two days a week.
I’ve painted a rather dismal forecast, haven’t I! Could there possibly be a bright side? Well, yes, there is. What folks tend to forget about all those clouds and gloom is that they are exactly why it doesn’t get brutally cold here in the winter. As long as the clouds are present, the warmer air close to the surface of the earth cannot escape into the atmosphere. Only rarely do we get a combination of a clear, sunny sky, and a fast moving low system with Arctic winds bringing icy cold down upon us. Such occasions may bring the temps down to the mid teens, but such an occurrence is truly rare, and may only happen once every 5 or 10 years. My friends back east are often shocked to learn that we have neither air conditioning or central heating in our house – we have a wood burning fireplace in our living room, and it is easily sufficient to keep us snugly warm.
Yup, the clouds may eventually cause Cabin Fever, but in the meantime, they are keeping us comfortable and just mildly depressed.
It’s taken me a goodly portion of my twelve years here in Oregon to get a sense of just how early our spring actually is – I now realize that we may have one of the slowest emerging Springs in all the U.S. – and I think we’ll find evidence of this fact with our little Project Bloom. In fact, the month of December may well be the depth of winter’s grip on nature’s plants hereabouts – but come January, my bet is that we’ll begin to find emerging green shoots, swelling buds, and even a few blooms to cheer us in our quest.
So -without further ado- here are the Project Bloom entries for Nov. 1st., our unofficial beginning of winter.
Yeah, you’re right – it wasn’t very hard to find Project Bloom candidates in November – but come next month, and we’ll have a different story – Or will we? Stay tuned and find out!
Very nice. Enjoyed the colorful flowers. Mallows are quite beautiful. Have a few perennial hibiscus and the one had blooms up until yesterday. We had frost last night in Fountain Hill, so I don’t know if any blooms are left. Happy Winter!!!
Thank you, Frances – and we send our best winter wishes your way as well!
Thanks for stopping by and chatting.
This is a great project and I am really looking forward to the next instalment. England is so odd, I have daffodil shoots already, the Glastonbury thorn in my front garden is in flower; it is supposed to flower at Christmas, so it is six weeks early, the peonies which I cut back only yesterday have new buds peeking through the soil. There is always something in flower here. I found a snapdragon the other day, must have grown from a packet of wild flower seeds I threw around a few years back, or maybe a bird brought it in.
Is your mystery bloom a verbena? I have something that looks vaguely like that, called verbena bonariensis, self seeds everywhere…
Yes, of course its a verbena! (enjoy your memory while you have it – they’ll come a day …) It was one of the few perennial flowers that I was successful at growing from seed – and I transplanted them out to a bed in a front corner of our yard where there’s a community mail pickup station (20+ mailboxes) – I try to get no-maintenance perennials in there – but the verbena is one of the tall variety, and in late summer, it just tips over and lays on the ground – and I’m not gonna go out there and stake every one. So I tried to replace them with Canna Lilies but of course the verbena keeps showing up every spring anyway.
I think you must have very similar weather to us – I was in your area in the early 70s on our way to Wales – we went from Brighton, around the SW coast up to Wales – we really liked the area, and quite surprised to see Palms.
Our weather is quite strange this year – we’re now having weather that the tomatoes would have enjoyed this summer. But that may change in an hour!
Doc, what a beautiful blog you have! Your flower photos are so cheery, I’m going to be really interested to see what you can find over winter. We’re heading into summer here in the southern hem, but it’s still quite cool…
Oh, I’m jealous! I really dislike our winters, mostly because of the gloom and the wet cold – but nature is amazing, and I’m excited about discovering lots more than I ever thought was out there. It’ll be fun.
I’m so glad I put your blog right at the top of my Yahoo news feed – this was such a great post, definitely made me happier than anything beneath it – volcanoes, plane crash, bankruptcies & breakups of the stars, etc etc – thanks for giving me something more pleasant to read! Your flowers are beautiful – these are great pix (mmm, & I love verbena, it smells amazing!). And I applaud your project, it sounds like a really healthy one. Please try to get lots of indoor light yourself this winter so you might continue to bloom – it really is supposed to help.
Btw, why do I keep learning new things about your earlier life – I didn’t know you ever worked for a children’s agency!!
Looking forward to December’s post – maybe I’ll send you guys some cut flowers for your Christmas table just to be sure you have something beautiful to look at.