Frosted Impatiens

I am pretty sure that those gardeners who garden in climates where there is no killing frost, no forced dormancy, no real end to a gardening season, secretly envy those of us who have gardens that die back and go dormant for several winter months.

Why would they be envious of us?

Because in the winter, we northern gardeners get a rest!

I don’t know about others, but I usually just let the garden sleep through the winter and go about doing some non-gardening things like reading gardening books, studying seed catalogs and thinking about what to do in the garden in the spring, the spring of my perfect garden.

(What? Those aren’t non-gardening activities? I’m not getting my hands dirty or using pruners or a hoe when I do them, so they can’t be gardening activities. Therefore, they must be non-gardening activities, right?)

I have time to do all of those non-gardening activities because I don’t have to water, plant, harvest, deadhead, or mow. I just do what I can in the garden in the fall until it’s too cold and dark to do any more and then let the garden fend for itself until spring.

Some northern gardeners put on a good show of whining and lamenting about the end of the growing season. They do it every year, in person, on blogs, through pictures. They’ve mastered it with whines like…

“The killing frost has finished off my vegetable garden.”

“I miss the smell of dirt.”

“I would love to have some flowers bloom.”

And my personal favorite…

“Blowing snow off the drive is a poor substitute for mowing.”

In spite of this well-practiced routine of whining, which I’ll admit to occasionally participating in at times, I’m on good terms with the killing frost. It starts the process of wiping the ‘slate of the garden’ clean for me in the fall so I can start fresh, and renewed, in the spring.

I’m so good with the killing frost that I have chosen to express it in an artistic way. By moving the camera when I took the picture above, I created abstract art.

I call it “Frosted Impatiens”.


  1. MMMMM, I am thinking a tad like Jackson Pollack w/that whipping camera action!

  2. Some of us even use that enforced rest to remove the dirt from inside the house, a little known practice called housecleaning.

  3. We are in for our fist killing frost of the season. I am looking forward to it. I'm ready to move my activities inside. Our summer was so hot that we spent very little time outside.

  4. If only there were a way to grow plants inside the house. (Maybe one could call them "homeplants?") For those people who can't live without the smell of dirt and stuff. Maybe some kind of hollow tube filled with luminous gases, to simulate sunlight. Homes lined with pipes to carry water from far away.

    I know, I know, I'm a dreamer. Unrealistic. Eccentric, possibly crazy.

    Or maybe just toxicly sarcastic. Whatever. My own issues. I'll go now.

  5. Our Nebraska winters have been hanging on, stealing time from spring, and now the killing freeze came on time. I was hoping the fall would at least last a little longer.

    What can I use as an excuse for not keeping my house clean now, the computer, maybe? I really do want to keep it clean, but it does not stay clean, and I don't like that, so I'm not always so motivated to keep after it.

  6. I sincerely hope I do not have to resort to housecleaning! I would like to get some winter projects done though and I too am ready for the garden to rest. I won't miss watering.

  7. Ummm, nooo, Carol, sorry. This Southerner is not envious of the killing frost and black-and-white winter. Sure, it would be nice to see a couple of days of snow each winter, but I'd want it gone by the next day. And I love our temperate winters. After our warm and pleasant fall and spring, it's my favorite season of the year. ;-) What I envy are your cooler summers.

  8. "I am pretty sure that those gardeners who garden in climates where there is no killing frost...secretly envy those of us who have gardens that die back and go dormant for several winter months."

    So, so wrong.

    I lived in a cold winter climate for two miserable, soul-sucking years. I would need a course of antidepressants to get through winter if I couldn't go outside to visit the garden or work in it.

  9. Carol, I'm with you! I am usually ready for that first killing frost. Mainly so I don't have to water any more. I start out in the spring lovingly watering all I have planted-but by Aug, I am sick and tired of dragging around a hose or carrying gallons of water to the potted plants.

  10. Very clever of you to have made such a lovely picture of frosted impatients. I too enjoy the break in gardening. Sometimes it takes me a moment or two to realize I don't have to water or deadhead something. Luna still makes me walk in the garden every day though.

  11. I have reached the point of being quite physically tired (from gardening) ... so I am quite looking forward to a bit of a break. Then I go into my studio - and that's a whole other story!

  12. Carol,

    I've just discovered that I am a semi-evergreen gardener! (Cameron at Defining Your Garden) I will sort of garden this winter, puttering around in my brown landscape. The garden will be exposed for all to see; no blanket of snow to cover it! Semi-evergreen gardener's job will be to plant more evergreen for winter interest! Then I am taking a break!


  13. Although my climate isn't as cold as yours (zone 7) I'm still grateful for the winter to come. However, by February, I want spring to come again and for me, February is the shortest and cruelest month.~~Dee

  14. Yeh right.....and give up playing in the garden 12 months out of the year. When I need a break, can I come visit!!! I grew up as a child in Zone 5. Makes me get a chill just thinking about it. My blood is too thin now to go back. But you enjoy the break.....and stay warm!

  15. We had a patchy killing frost last night, too. Some of my amaranth are wilted this morning, while others are upright and fine. My eggplants, which are the last things veggies I had growing in the garden, are all wilty-looking today,too, so I'm going to go out and take the rest of what I can from those plants, then compost them.

    None of the above, by the way, look nearly as pretty as your impressionistic impatiens!

  16. You're right -- I would love frosts to kill off some of my weeds instead of having to try to eradicate them myself! And a slightly cooler climate would enable me to grow some fruits I like.

  17. I am indeed a little envious of your enforced break from gardening activities. Used as I am to being able to garden pretty much year round, I'd probably be stir crazy in a week, though!


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