What's A Gardener to Do in Winter Time?

Just because it's Winter does not mean I am not pining to get out and garden. Funny, that - I thought I would welcome the down-time. I do, but I fill it with reading books, blogs, plotting and planning for what changes will happen for next year's garden. 

However this past weekend, the garden lust bug bit me so strongly, I HAD to visit a nursery, so I popped by Portland Nursery, a lovely large nursery just down the street from me (for good or for bad. They have most of my paychecks, believe me). I hadn't bought anything since probably October so it was time. 

In keeping with my Backyard Habitat Certification Program theme and wanting to add native plants as much as possible, I was thinking all along of replacing the Scot's Pine which I blogged about here with this lovely Pinus contorta 'Murrayana' which I had seen around nurseries. I ended up planting a gorgeous Leptospermum lanigerum or Tea Tree, but still wanted one of these. So, when I saw one in a gallon sized for 1/3 the price of the larger ones I had seen earlier this year, I snapped one up.

Here he is! Isn't he cute? 

 Kind of a fuzzy pic but the curvy nature of the trunk shows up.

 And so small! He grows so slowly, only 3" a year, so I figured with my garden logic that I can place him virtually anywhere! Here's the stats from the tag:

Pinus contorta 'Murrayana', native to Oregon's high elevations, slow growth to 3" a year. (That's inches, not feet!) Sun, dug from the Diamond Lake District by permit. 

Here are some stats from the Theodore Payne Foundation website:

Also known as lodgepole pine, tamarack pine, Sierra lodgepole pine, Sierra-Cascade logepole pine.

Can form dense stands; Highly recommended for snow or freezing temperatures. Versatile: can hand both wet and some dry conditions. Does not tolerate shade or fire. 

Plant Family: Pinaceae
Plant Type: Tree
Height by Width: 50-80' H x 20-25 W"
Growth Habit: Tall, upright, narrow canopy
Deciduous/Evergreen: Semi-deciduous
Growth Rate: Fast
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Preference: Well-draining
Water Requirements: Drought-tolerant to moderate
Cold Hardy to: 11,000'
Flower Season: Cones
Flower Color: Cones
Endangered?: Not Listed
Distribution: Klamath Range, High Sierra and Cascade Ranges, San Gabriel Mtns, San Bernardino Mtns, San Jacinto Mtns, Great Basin, Oregon, Northen Baja
Natural Habitat: Lodgepole forest, wet meadows, cold places, in mixed conifer forest

 This website mentions that growth is fast, I read elsewhere it is slow, so I'm hoping for the slow route. In any event, I'm happy with my little purchase and will photograph him once he's in the ground a little later on this spring.

OK, what else can a gardener do in the middle of Winter? Get outside and hike, I say! So David and I took a short but sweet hike on Christmas day to Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

A beautiful and easy hike, very family-friendly, we also pet lots of doggies along the way.

While hiking along, I thought I'd like to remember Christmas 2013 for more than just presents, I wanted some kind of special memento for David and I. We kept seeing these fabulous lichen-covered twigs and had an idea to collect some and make a wreath. So here it is.

I don't know how long it will last but for now it makes me smile every time I pass through our door, memories of an outdoor Christmas day.

There it is! A few fun activities to keep the restless gardener occupied. Happy New Year and Happy Gardening to everyone! 


  1. Those lichen-covered twigs are the best! I've been collecting a few every time they fall from my Douglas firs, but it's slow going. Congrats on the new plant. I need to do some nursery-visiting too.

    1. I know, Alison - aren't they great? Yes, visits to the nursery definitely help me during this dark time of year.

  2. I LOVE that wreath! I keep seeing bits and pieces when I walk Lila and after I collected for Christmas decor I was just leaving them be. Now I've got a new project, thank you!

    1. Thanks, Danger! Easy to do too (thankfully for me) - got the structure thing for the wreath at JoAnn Fabrics for a couple of bucks if you don't happen to have one around the house. Would love to see it when finished! :)

  3. That wreath is beautiful! I too am itching to get out in the garden. I noticed today that the freeze didn't deter the popweed at all.

    1. D'OH! Ever the popweed....right? That stuff can survive a radioactive hurricane.

      Thank you for your kind words! And I think I owe you a huge thank you for my first agave from the plant swap?? THANK YOU!!

  4. fifi lafontaine2:26 PM PST

    I think that is the prettiest wreath I've ever seen! Also, I love the Murrayana pine. I think I have one and if I could figure out how to copy and paste a link here to the picture I have of it, i'd ask you to I.D. it for me. (Techno-lameness!)

    1. Techno-Goddess, more like it, Fifi! Photoshop skillz? You haz em. Thanks for the compliment! Email me a pic and I'll do my best

  5. The Gorge is such a wonderful place to hike. I love your Christmas Day activity and the lovely wreath result! And your cute little pine is the perfect size and growth rate (you hope!) for your urban garden. I need to get out to a nursery myself!


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