January gardening

“Jardin,” the French word for garden, doesn’t really have that much similarity to January but, in this season of dark days and unrelenting snow, I’ll take whatever I can get. In fact, right about now, I’d even take eight solid hours of digging weeds in exchange for spending the same amount of time watching – and measuring – the falling snow.

My room is white (well, officially off-white; I wanted a neutral shade so as not to clash with Mother Nature) – anyway, it is neutral (more or less) except for the plants crowding every window. I lack the heart to destroy any that want to live so the place does tend to resemble an overgrown (if not as healthy) jungle.

What were “reasonable” house plants when they arrived, now sit on the floor and still reach the ceiling. A corner shelf was built over a Norfolk Pine. The plant there now has obliterated shelf and the lovely clock on it. Someday . . .

And someday I will also write about the avocado. Or the lemon I just picked off its tree. Or the first of the figs (16!) enjoyed not that long ago. Or the bananas that promise fruit – in a few more years.

Now I relish the pink geraniums that happily enliven the table. The window box was moved inside before the first frost but the flowers continue to do their thing (and hold on) through much of the winter. When some droop and the petals fall, I only have to run upstairs to cut a new bouquet. The African violets provide color as well (when I don’t overwater as I tend to do) and the “pineapple” plant has two blooms. There’s a bud on the gardenia as well as my hopes that some of the lemon buds can hang on this time. That plant positively hates being in the house. About now, I really can’t say I blame it.

It’s all quite wonderful and, for me, a continuing source of amazement.

However, what’s with the weeds?

Chickweed has all but threatened to take over. The dirt surface especially in the avocado and lemon would be totally green if I weren’t constantly yanking out the weeds.

I know many things want to get in when it’s cold and miserable outside. Mice especially. Obviously weeds as well.

I don’t really mind the “work.” The green smells of the season that only the pages of my calendar really believe is coming.

Heavens! A hint of sun! One’s heart lifts – and immediately sinks again as the clouds win out and the snow, in lesser flurries, continues.

I turn the Tchaikovsky down to better hear the bird song. How joyfully they chirp! I envy them their faith.

My jungle is happy for even a touch of brightness and will stretch toward the windows that guarantee nothing and deliver even less. I’ll keep on watering weekly (whether they want it or not; I make the rules here) and eventually even this will pass.

They’ll thank me once they can be outside again.

Believe me, I know just how they feel.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to