The shop this time of year is one of my favorite seasons-but that did not happen by accident. For years I would watch the good gardening days winnow away, and dread the coming of the dark. My late fall activites would center around cleaning up, putting away, cutting back, protecting-preparations for the desolation to come. I still do this. But there are ways to take the garden with you, when winter calls.
The shop makes no bones about it-all of our materials and ornament relate in some way to the garden. Mossed topiary cones can cover a favorite pot brought into the foyer for winter. Lots of kinds of pine cones can find their way into winter garlands and pots; a plain oval pine cone wreath with a burlap box says gardener in residence. Rob’s steel rings wrapped with brown corded lights can be hung from a tree branch in a dark corner of the garden.
An amaryllis growing on a window sill is not only a comfort, they bloom spectacularly and triumphantly in the winter months. We like them beautifully packaged in a growing kit for gift giving.
I wish we could be open day and night, at this time of year. Some materials look so beautiful on a sunny day, but we are fast approaching the time when our sunny days will be at a premium. What looks good on a gloomy day, or a day that goes dark at 4pm in afternoon? Faux white berry stems, anything red, whitewashed eucalyptus, and glass look great outdoors on a grey day.
This English made pot brush makes specific reference to the garden. It is a sturdily made handcrafted object that needs to do nothing more than sit there, and be admired. It reminds me of a place I very much like to be-that is enough. It would be a great centerpiece for a kitchen table-dressed up with a bow for the holidays.
Dried natural materials, subtly colored in greys, creams and browns, can be dramatic in winter arrangments, provided they are used in big enough numbers, or dramatically lit.
Rob walks Larry every day in fields nearby. It took numerous trips to collect enough milkweed pods to create this stunning arrangement which he then lit dramatically in the shop. A single milkweed pod in a glass bottle can be just as interesting. If you collect the pods as the seeds are emerging, they need to be lightly sprayed with Dri-Seal-a sealer specifically made for natural materials. Otherwise, you will have milkweed seeds floating in the air-everywhere.
I took these pictures of all of the rooms in the shop last night. I like to have a record of what we do; this does look like the garden to me. Rob set giant natural bleached branches into big pots filled with white play sand. The sand holds the branches exactly where he wants them. They are hung with paper, wire, and felt snowflakes, felt mushrooms, and stars, felt owls and birch bark balls. Our pots are full of twine ball picks, berries, and assorted natural materials.
I know there are people who read here that cannot stop by. I hope these pictures of the spaces give a sense of the look of the shop now.. It is to my mind and hands, a big space-almost 10,000 square feet. The work of creating a holiday or winter display, whether in a shop or in a home, involves lots of small objects and lots of time. I only have so much time in a day. I would rather devote more time to creating something from the season, as this leaves less time for for mourning the passing of the garden. My butterburr garden is flat to the gound, and mulched for the winter. It is a big brown blob of a space; there is nothing to be done for it. But nothing on earth is more forlorn than empty pots in the winter, as there is a season to celebrate on its way. There is no need for pots to sit idle all winter.
I have said before that holiday and winter lighting is a form of landscaping-I stand by this. I am not so concerned about the lighting in my summer garden, as the sun takes care of that until very late in the day. But my winter landscape needs light. How I choose to do that is part an alternate form of gardening.
The shop greenhouse space goes quite dark in the late fall, given how low the sun is in the sky. Rob takes special pains to light the at space beautifully. There is light directed from the top down. There is light on the walls. There are light garlands on the floor. We have holiday trees that are lit from within.Every material can be transformed by the quality and intensity of the light put to it.
We are better ready for winter than we were a month ago, and looking forward to our winter gardening.