Foolish Flower!

Foolish flower! It’s November! It shouldn’t be blooming now.

I bet I know what happened. Last weekend and early last week, it was darn right warm for November, with high temperatures in the lower 70’s some days. So a few flowers bloomed, like this lilac, probably just checking it out to see if it was safe to do so.

It wasn’t! November has “corrected” itself, and returned to its normal temperatures. And the normal temperatures are cold, with low temps in the lower 30’s and highs in the lower 50’s.

November really is the “gateway to winter” here in Indianapolis.

It is in November that our percentage of sunshine drops to 41%, whereas in October it was 65%. Not until March will we have at least a 50% chance of sunshine each day.

It is in November that we are likely to get our first measurable snowfall of the year.

It is in November that we gardeners realize that the gardening season is over, at least outdoors. (Or it should be over, but some of us haven’t quite finished the cleaning up and putting away that must be done in the fall, so we will be doing that in the cold).

But don’t despair for us northern gardeners, we find ways to keep gardening alive in the winter.

We get Amaryllis bulbs and grow them for holiday bloom.

We force bulbs like Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) and Hyacinths to bloom indoors. I like for these to bloom after the holidays.

We read and re-read seed catalogs and make all kinds of lists of seeds we want to get for spring.

We watch over our houseplants and hope one or two will bloom, giving us something to post for bloom day on the 15th of each month.

We open up bags of potting soil and breath deeply of the earthy odor and then stick our hands in it and feel the texture of the dirt.

We buy candles scented like cut grass and burn those on cold winter nights.

We read gardening books and magazines and dream of warm days. We try to remember what warm days are like. Brrrrr...

We read the blogs of southern gardeners who are still planting and working outside in their gardens and leave little comments like "Oh, I wish I could be outside gardening right now". (But we are really programmed to have this rest period, so just ignore those comments. We don't mean it. We are enjoying our rest, at least from now until after the New Year. Then we start to go a little stir crazy.)

See, there is a lot of ‘gardening’ we can still do in the winter! So don’t despair for us. This happens every year, we’ll be okay.

Really…Who really wants to be outside on days like this?

(By the way, I made up two of the above things we northern gardeners do in the winter, can you guess which two?)


  1. I am planning to embrace my composter this winter: to make lots of compost. To faithfully turn it. It will be ready when the sun comes back in the spring.

  2. Carol, Sometimes I wish for a rest from gardening. But I have to say, I don't wish for days without sunshine. Okay- I'm going to ignore all your comments this winter and know you don't mean them. LOL

  3. I'm not sure which ones you made up, but I know that I, for one, do not stick my hands and feet in topsoil nor do I burn candles with the smell of cut grass:) If we didn't have winter, my house would never get cleaned!

    I would be astonished at your lilac, except I have had some blooms on my crab apples the last few weeks. I think some of the plants were confused what season it was, but there's no confusion today--we've even seen a few tiny flakes of snow.

  4. That link is great.

  5. We've had Bradford pears blooming here recently and my bridal wreath spireas both threw off a few blooms. In our case, I think they were confused by the infamous Ike.

  6. I do not think you burn candles that smell like grass, because I don't really remember seeing many candles at your house. Since I have to guess 2 things, my ssecond guess is that you don't smell the potting soil. Do they made a potting soil candle? Spring is only one season away.

  7. Wow Carol! Lilacs in November! Who'd have thunk it!

    The only one on your list I don't do is burn candles that smell like grass.

    I've already been ordering seeds - I have five years of pent-up veggie gardening energy to cut loose now that I've finally appropriated some prime lawn real estate from my husband and started a raised veggie bed for next year. I couldn't wait for winter to start picking out seeds.

  8. I'm glad u added a little comedy back in there at the end, cause I was about to cry.~~Dee

  9. I think the following were made up:

    "We open up bags of potting soil and breath deeply of the earthy odor and then stick our hands in it and feel the texture of the dirt."


    "We read the blogs of southern gardeners who are still planting and working outside in their gardens and leave little comments like 'Oh, I wish I could be outside gardening right now.'"

    Was I correct?

    I must be one of the few who think paperwhites should be outlawed from indoors! I think they stink! Felder Rushing gave me one a long time ago and I gave it back.

  10. I can only be sure of one, the candle.

  11. I have a hippeastrum blooming out of season by about 5 months.

    In Austin, I think we're seeing plants tricked into flowering when it rains after months of drought. Temperature is less a factor here than the amount of rain--at least that's what I've observed in my garden.

    Your 4-season plants are probably more sensitive to temperature than our all-season plants.

  12. Hey Carol,

    I like the image of my Northern Garden Friends sticking their hands and feet in the dirt while breathing in grass scented candles! You can keep the paperwhites I don't like their fragrance...give me the grass scented candles! I don't know about the rest of the southern gardeners, but I am looking forward to a rest and time to think. Gail

  13. Well, I do not put my hands in potting soil in the winter. That would be too cold! I don't do candles of any kind, and if I did, I don't think I'd choose grass scented ones. I am not organized enough to force bulbs. I think I'm willing to wait for spring for those. So, of those three, I'm thinking two of those are the ones you are referring to.

  14. It sure did get cold! Brrr....
    I'll be working outside in the cold with you and wishing that the sun would come back. As a northern gardener, I don't burn grass scented candles and I don't stick my hands in potting soil during winter just to feel it.

    Any tricks for growing the bulbs indoors this winter? I read that you should plant them 7 weeks before you want them to bloom.

  15. i have a crazy cosmo plant that put all it's energy into making a thick, hearty stalk, no blooms, all summer and fall. then, in late october it sent out a ton of little buds, and just bloomed like crazy late last week. last night, they got hit hard by the freeze. but it was fun to have that late color surprise, (even if it was kind of silly on the part of the plant)!

  16. I followed the lead to the grass green candles and now am all set to settle in for a long winter's nap!

  17. I'm guessing the potting soil and candle options also...although if anyone deserved a grass scented candle it would be you! I know it's not the southern gardener option... gardeners would be gardening everyday if they had the choice!

  18. Yes, in some ways it's good to have that winter rest and some time to plan and dream. I suspect I wouldn't appreciate spring quite so much if I could garden year round.

  19. Hmm, I am believing the grass scented candle and even the nose in the potting soil, but don't remember comments that say you wish you were outside gardening. Now the seed lists I know for sure are something you enjoy!

  20. All of those....and more! Do you think the flowers would mean so much if they were around all the time? I think the grayness of winter makes one appreciate the past and future blooms oh so much more!

  21. I think they all sound plausible! In fact, do you know where I can find a candle that smells like freshly cut grass? I'd be all over that right now!!! :)

  22. Carol, so sorry but I happen to be one of the southern gardeners who works straight through the winter. Still I will gripe and complain about the cold wearther even though it rarely freezes.

  23. I'll stay mum on the year-round gardening issue, but must turn into Aunt Annie for a minute and hope no one is breathing in the scent of potting soil...
    most of the stuff we buy in bags like has components that are classified as "nuisance dust". It's not exactly dangerous but can cause temporary irritation. Read the labels - some soils with fancy additives warn you to use gloves, too.

    Since your family reads your blogs, Carol - adding that link to the green grass-scented candle may have been the equivalent of sending a letter to Santa!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  24. The weather is always wacky that's one thing that never changes. I planed a TON a fall bulbs about two weeks ago, I went out yesterday and the shallowly planted muscari already have already put up their leaves! EEEK!


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